All posts by Bardo N. Nelgen

In Defense of AIDA (and other 1@1 concepts…)

— a modern e-tailer’s takeaways from early 20ieth century hardselling theory

Undoubtedly there are things that get better the more often you cook them up: e.g. sour kraut, bean stew or chili con carne. And then there are those whose state tremendeously degrades away from “desireable” with every re-heating, but that nonetheless are getting boiled-up over and over again. Deep-frozen pizza and marketing-paradigms obviously belong to the latter.
 

Salesology in the early 1900s
 

It was no sooner than in 1898 when one of the early experts of American sales theory, Elias St. Elmo Lewis, came up with the concept, that described the structure of a typical selling process as it may be encountered by a typical salesman of its time:
 

Attention
which needed to be grabbed, in order to spark the customers’
Interest
for which it was the salesman’s job to turn it into
Desire
for the customer to buy the product, and thus taking the necessary
Action
to complete the deal.

 

This is the way A.I.D.A. has been taught ever since. Over the years, however, many people forwarded and developed the idea without any regard of its original intention: Some praised it as instructional guide, which it isn’t as it only shows the stages of a sale, rather than any advice on how to reach them. Others thought it to provide a universal structure for largely any kind marketing/sales process, which it cannot deliver as well, since it has been constructed for a mainly direct-selling audience with their particular requirements in mind.
 

So shouldn’t we finally put this thing to rest in our history books as a 19th/20ieth century legacy item? Hm. Not so fast…
 

It wasn’t until the advent of the internet and e-commerce, that for many industries the ability to deliver perfect direct-buying experiences has become essential to both their survival and everyday business. This comes to matter even more, since most online-experts and first-class web citizens like programmers, designers and writers have never encountered any type of selling education. Many of them are now trying to make up for it in rather expensive ways (notice the boom in web analysis and multivariate testing within recent years…!?), and a lot of people nowadays become ”experts“ on the run at challenges that had actually been believed to be solved for an entire century now.
 

Among the most impressive tools for modern-style product show-offs (probably beside video keynotes shot in front of large audiences… ;-)) is the pitchpage.
 

A forever-long/high-running webpage, that concentrates solely on selling a single product or service by deploying the entire arsenal of modern online technology, including (but in no way limited to) detailed imagery and packshots, video presentations, animated visuals, interactive 360°/panoramic images, customer credentials, along with fact sheet and demonstration downloads.
 

Crafting a working pitchpage is an art, which (as of now) only few have really mastered.
 

Different from other kinds os online presentation, pitchpages provide the necessary linearity required for a show to successfully build up suspense and momentum — which is hard to achieve otherwise and has for long been missing from non-linear interactive media.
 

Keeping that in mind, skilled authors finally have the means to make use of proven rhetoric concepts for their online promotions and sales. Just as they have aleady got used to offline e.g. by deploying the Heath brothers’ SUCCES(S) framework, Zig Ziglars long-running/going hardselling encounters or Cialdini’s ”50 Scientifically Proven Ways“ to get to ”Yes!“.
 

QR Chalking viable to mark-up the real world?

 
Well, admittedly my first experiments’ results proved less than wonderful. As you can see, I went with a QR shape made of card board, diligently hand-cut from the Amazon package the chalk spray came in.

 

screen, spraychalk and shape to add a "quiet zone" around the pattern

 

While the first tests using white paper instead of chalk colour under the Matrix shape turned out quite promising, the final result on asphalt was not readable at all, despite having added the mandatory "quiet zone" around the actual code display (not shown on the picture) before running the readability tests.

 

 

Anyway, with future expriments I’ll start with a more even surface as a background and less colour, so that the individual squares hopefully will not bleed into each other as much as they did with this first print.
 

Will keep you updated about future outcomes.
 

Missing the customer — how your brand’s
street cred suffers from poor execution

 

How would you come to describe the emotional reationship towards your insurance provider? Pure business? Not viable? Suspended? Well, then you are probably not alone….
 

Ad: Help when it matters most.

 
Being quite aware of the difficult standing with clients in their industry, the Zurich insurance company lately came up with a quite innovative and ambitious concept for their Normadz® offering to hit the road and probably every other location frequent travellers would find themselves in a hassle. With a target market of "anyone using a Blackberry on a regular basis" they set up "help points" at Europes most frequented airports i.e London Heathrow and Frankfurt, where a lot of their targeted customers were likely to pass by on a regular basis.
 

At these service outlets travellers can get free internet access, basic concierge services and, of course, an introduction to the Nomadz service, which provides from a mixture of emergency alert and rescue services to concierge style amenities.
 

To make sure the effort gets noticed, e.g. at Frankfurt airport the entire way from the main check-in hall to the help point has been plastered with fullsize ads making often heard (bold goes without saying) claims like "Need a question answered?" or "Help when it matters most.".
 

Ad: Need to get online before you fly?  Ad: Need a question answered?

 
However, as the accompanying – and after two years still not quite complete – website suggests, some not entirely thought through points come with the promotional demo:
 

You won’t get any assistance (or even the free internet service) at these spots outside regular working hours, not on weekends and, of course, not on holidays. And the loudly advertised power outlets are available for free to passengers all over the airport anyway.
 

empty Zurich Help Point

Left-alone and all monitors dark (except for reflections and the advertising):
The Zurich „Help when it matters most”-stand.

 
Though, isn’t exactly this the core benefit of any insurance offering (and even more with the one being promoted)? A service providing "help when it matters most" and not "when it comes along the cheapest"!? Just as emergencies don’t use to restrict themselves to opening hours.
 

You may now argue, if there is a lot of sense in keeping such promotional stand occupied at times, when salaries for the operating staff are higher, with the number of prospective contacts decreasing at the same time. But if, as with insurance, your entire industry’s main USP is to be reliable come what might (and with the advertised offer even focussing on this fact…), then saving on the pennies for an approach to publicly demonstrate it may backfire quite rapidly. Because if already your very own promotions fall short of delivering the advertised values, how will then your services do for a customer?
 

So think again when planning the next pitch to prospective customers: How can you have the way you deliver your presentation support, rather than contradict, the message you want to send out? Get this answered right and you’ll be surprised by your audience’s honest and welcoming reactions.
 

 

Working @ Starbucks — the other way…

No, this is not about making the perfect frappuccino. Nor about being member of a union.
 
It is about the observation at my favourite Starbucks outlet that more and more creative class freelance professionals seem to discover the cozy local coffee shop as a convenient replacement for working alone or in home office.
There is lots of well-brewn and affordable “cheap-refill” coffee available throughout the day, enough space and stylish interior to host client conversations, as well as large-enough tables for team-meetings. And free wifi along with your cellphone ready on the table makes sure, nobody needs to notice you’re not, well, “at work”.
 
While the ability to check your e-mail at the coffee shop isn’t exactly new, the idea of regularly going there for work, just as you would normally to an office (read: from early morning just until the late afternoon, when she location starts to get occupied by the more noisy “private” coffee-sippers) at least for me seems put new perspective on it.
 
As an interesting alternative/supplement to the contemporary co-working movement with probably somewhat less cross-pollination intended, working at Starbucks however doesn’t come without benefits on the house:
The coffee shop gets its rooms filled at times of the day when commonly “to go” is the appreciated bestseller. Fortunately, at the same time, the new guest group won’t alienate the more traditional customers by staring a their laptops with a shining blue glare spread over all their surroundings (as common in the early days of free wi-fi offered in cafes). The aforementioned screen-workers just by their nature flee from more lively visiors during the afternoon hours, who regard the coffee outlet more as their favourite Third Place, rather than a work enviroment.
 
And even though Starbucks management by now may as well not have fully gotten the actual business potential coming with providing public co-working space — their prospects definitely have.
 

The Semantic Web is Meaning Less
(at least to search engines…)

 
When recently launching my SemaWorx SEO and Internet Marketing Shop here in Leipzig, I had been carefully considering, where to put the focus of the work, in order to prevent ending up in the same pot with all the other more or less notable SEOs in the area.
 

So I initially thought it to be a great idea to deploy my existing experience of semantic data logic for search engine optimization. This has become increasingly popular lately with the rise of RDFa and adoption of commerce ontologies like Good Relations through major search engines.
 

As experience in this field is not easily replicable, the knowledge about and deployment of Semantic Web technology could have made for a great USP.
 

But after playing around with these fresh options for a while and much to my disappointment, I discovered that (at least a the time of this writing), most relevant search engines, including Google, do not actually parse the semantic markup, but rather string-search it with the rest of the respective page.
 

What may sound quite reasonable from an efficiency or productivity point of view, unfortunately also misses an important opportunity derived from the triple-nature of RDF data: To match and co-relate information across different domains, which could help filter a lot of false positives out of search engine results. This leads to strange feature restrictions, like the ability to recognize only one product per page, which makes semantic markup rather useless e.g. for catalogues or category overviews.
 

That said, apart from the early island solutions like Intel’s Mash Maker, by now not a lot of companies have successfully managed to use structural data of semantically rich webpages to co-relate it with content from other domains.
 

Nonetheless, I’ll dare to offer semantically enhanced SEO services, which we create for use with Google’s Universal Search or Yahoo!’s Monkey Business, as fully query-able semantic data endpoints, so not not only search robots, but any application willing to use and promote the outcomes will be able to use these in real time.
 

Sounds intersting ?  Wanna give it a try ?  Then you are very welcome to get in touch with us via the Semantic Search Engine Optimization site.