Payoff by Dan Ariely

Read This Book: ‘Payoff’ by Dan Ariely (Book Review)


If you’ve ever spoken with me about books, particularly “business-type” books, one author I always mention as a must-read is Dan Ariely. As the James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University, as well as founder and director of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, Ariely’s work on behavioral psychology has provided groundbreaking revelations and insight into the decision-making process, and the not-quite-rational way in which we make our decisions.

As a marketer (and a once-upon-a-time psychology major) I find the research into these topics particularly useful, especially when your job is to help build out strategies specifically designed to guide people to a desired outcome. After all, that’s pretty much what marketing is – using psychological principles to guide behavior and perception.
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Leadership Lessons from Team-Based Videogaming

Leadership Lessons Learned from Team-Based Video Gaming


I’m a gamer. There’s no argument about it. I’ve been enamored with video games and all the different opportunities they offer in interactive entertainment and experiences ever since I first put my hands on a Nintendo back in 1988. This means I’ve played a lot of games in the last 30 or so years, across multiple platforms and genres. They’re part of my life and absolutely have an effect on how I think about and frame problems and their solutions. And the other night, as I was thinking about the qualities of what makes a strong leader, I was brought back to my experiences as a gamer and how those experiences have helped me to become the type of leader I am.
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The Revenge of Analog

Read This Book: ‘The Revenge of Analog’ by David Sax [Book Review]


I’ve spent my entire professional career selling digital products online. For the last sixteen years I’ve disrupted (some would say decimated) a good portion of one of the oldest publishing industries in the world: sheet music.

When I started at Musicnotes.com as a lowly marketing assistant back in 2000, the concept of buying online had gained some traction … but the idea of buying a digital, virtual, item was still completely foreign to the general consumer. Keep in mind that this was before iTunes had even launched. Apple didn’t introduce us to the concept of buying digital music until January of 2001. Amazon didn’t even launch its Kindle e-Reader until 2007.

As technology evolved and people became much more accustomed to the concept of buying a digital item online, the world changed. I was a cheerleader of the benefits of digital distribution. In the sheet music industry, like many others, it solved a ridiculous amount of problems … such as print inventory, delivery logistics, cost of physical goods, lead times to print, how big a print run would be and even the very process behind which decisions were made as to if a product was financially feasible to even exist.
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Toys R Us Coupon

Coupon Psychology and Presentation Is a Subtle Art


$10 off $100? That’s stupid!

That’s what my nine-year-old son thought of the Toys R Us Coupon that came in the mail the other day – especially after I explained to him that it was $10 off $100 or more. Not just $10 of free toys.

But as I explained it to him, I started going through a dissection of the art of manipulation and psychology in how a coupon is both determined and presented. I’m pretty sure I lost his interest right around the part where he realized he didn’t have $100 so the coupon was, for him, useless … but that didn’t stop me from thinking about it all.

In my time as a marketer, I’ve obviously done my fair share of couponing. It’s just part of the world of marketing – especially when you’re selling direct to consumers. What some people don’t think about though is the amount of psychology that can go into what coupons we offer and how the offer as well as how its presented can have a tremendous impact on the business when you use the coupon to try to influence customer behavior.

The whole concept of a coupon is simple: give someone a discount so they are more inclined to purchase. At their simplest you can use them to drive traffic to your store (or increase in-store conversions) and get a boost in sales. Its why you’ll often see coupons at ends of financial quarters or other times when sales are lagging or need a last-minute boost.

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Every Customer Has a Problem

Marketing Basics: Every Customer Has a Problem


Every customer has a problem. That’s one of the most important marketing basics to remember.

Not a personality problem like fear of emotional commitment (although have those as well) or a customer service type problem like a major complaint about your return policy. Instead they have a problem that you or your product can solve.

It’s your job to figure out what that problem is, how to help them solve it, and to let them know you can.
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Marketing Books

Marketing Books Essentials: The 5 Best Books for Marketers


Go to any book store and you’ll see there are a lot of marketing books out there. Amazon currently lists over 62,000 marketing books in its marketing category.

And that’s just taking into account the books that are specifically tagged as being about marketing. That doesn’t include general business books, pyschology books or others that while not specifically marketing books, are still useful books for marketers.

I read a lot. And while I haven’t read all 62,000+ marketing books that Amazon lists, I’ve read my fair share. And of those, there are five in particular that I believe to be essential reads for any marketer.
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Fender Guitar

Fender’s Struggle to Get Guitars Under the Tree (And How To Make Your Brand Relevant Again)


As Black Friday looms near and the holiday shopping season kicks off in earnest, it seems Fender Guitar may be struggling for a spot under the tree for a shiny new guitar. According to a recent article from The Salt Lake Tribune, Fender’s marketing is battling flat sales due to that old foe, competition for mind share.

While people have been saying the guitar is dead for quite a while now, Fender’s fight for relevancy in a modern world full XBoxes and iPhones, a crumbling infrastructure for the arts and music, and a general lack of use and excitement around the guitar in modern music is one that, in my opinion, can still be won. But it’s going to take a lot more work to get there than just standard marketing can do.

I’ve argued for a while now that in order to build a strong brand, you need to encourage behavioral change. Yes, it’s possible to ride along on the waves made by others and sell popular ancillary products, but when you’re in a position like Fender is, where frankly there’s nothing out there in the greater zeitgeist that’s increasing the demand for guitars, you’re fighting an uphill battle.

As I like to say: If you can’t get anyone to do it for you, you might as well do it yourself.

And that’s what Fender and other companies are going to have to realize. It’s part of my Inspire, Aspire, Perspire theory of marketing.

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Amazon’s Trying a Fascinating Price Display Change


Earlier today I was over on Amazon, doing my daily obsessive check to see if anyone’s written any new reviews of any of my short stories or novels (I’m a writer on the side) and I noticed something pretty fascinating. The change is subtle, but it’s definitely there. Also I’m not sure if it’s a test or an a full-fledged rollout … but as minor as it may appear, Amazon has made a major change to how they are displaying product prices in search results.
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