Five star general and 34th president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, is credited with saying, “Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”
To influence someone doesn’t mean that you make the decision for them. Rather, it means that you present persuasive reasons for them to make a decision that you want them to make. They’re still deciding, you’re just helping them make your decision.
Basically, you show them why they should be motivated.
If you’re trying to get people to make the decision to click your link, read your blog post, download your eBook, subscribe to your feed, request your quote, buy your product, or purchase your service, you must influence them in a way that makes them motivated to do so.
If you’re trying to get people to make your decision, you must influence them in a way that makes them motivated to do so.
How can a marketer accomplish this?
Motivate by appealing to your audience’s needs
When I say “needs,” some critics get hung up on the definition of that word – assuming that I’m referring only to physiological needs.
For instance, skeptics will say, “Someone doesn’t need high-end designer shoes in order to survive. They might want them, but they don’t need them.”
I beg to differ.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Back in 1943, Maslow got it right. People have all kinds of needs.
Physiological – They need to have food to eat and a roof over their head.
Safety – They need to be safe and secure in their environment.
Social – They need to have sense of belonging within their social circles.
Esteem – They need to feel respected and well-appraised by others.
Self-Actualization – They need to feel like they’re continually bettering themselves.
Each product or service on the market for people to purchase has the potential to fulfill a certain type of person’s needs in at least one of these categories.
For instance, high-end designer shoes can fulfill a person’s social or esteem needs, helping them fit into their sphere of social interaction and gain the esteem of those around them.
The shoes are a social statement that elicit a reaction or induce a perception from the people around them.
Suffice it to say – There are a lot of things that people need. It’s our job to communicate how your offer fills one or more of their needs.
Write to address people’s needs on any, and all levels
When you’re writing web page content, blog posts, ad copy, or call-to-action text, this concept of influence and motivation should affect how you write your content.
In some way or another, it needs to appeal to one or more of these categories of needs.
While everyone’s needs fit into at least one category of Maslow’s hierarchy, different types of people have different needs within that system.
In order to understand the specific needs you should be targeting, you must first understand the type of person that would be most likely to buy your product.
You do this by developing buyer personas, thorough descriptions of a fictional character that represents a specific demographic you’re intending to reach with your marketing messages.
Rynn Jacobson, a content writer on our Fannit team, has written a great post on Buyer Personas. If you’re looking for more information on how to formulate personas, I would highly recommend that you read her insights.
The next question would be, “How do we write copy that effectively addresses our persona’s needs?” For that, let’s talk about getting people to do stuff (that they already want to do).
Getting people to fulfill their needs
People are kind of complex. They have all of these needs, are motivated to fulfill those needs, but aren’t impulsively buying everything in their path just because they feel they need to.
There are other factors, obviously. According to Dr. Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University and author of the Fogg Behavior Model, any behavior has three components. We’ve already covered motivation, so let’s keep going.
Ability is probably one of the most easily misunderstood factors in influence. We tend to think of ability as a simple yes/no statement.
He is able to lift 200 lbs. She is able to run a marathon. He can’t do this, she can’t do that.
The truth is, we all have different abilities to perform a specific action based on our time, money, will, energy, and certain perceptions that we have about that action.
In other words, what is simple for you may not be simple for me, even if our competencies are the same.
Let’s say that, for some reason, I’m hyper motivated to get a nice sportscar. I perceive the need to look good in my sportscar, enjoy the envy of my peers, whatever. But I don’t have the money on hand to buy it.
My ability is below the minimum necessary to achieve what I want to achieve. Now, if I feel that I really, really need that car, I may take out a loan or get a second job.
Now my ability is above the minimum necessary, and I can go get my flashy sportscar.
Increasing my ability is much more difficult to do, though.
A smart dealer could have reduced the required ability by offering a downpayment and low monthly payments. Now it is simple enough for me to get my sportscar. Vroom!
A huge part of how able we are to do things are based on perception.
Take ecommerce as an example. Here’s an awesome chart by statisa on shopping cart abandonment:
You can see that, just below “Decided against buying” is the awful truth: many people see websites as too complex. They’re trying to spend their money, but just couldn’t do it.
This is like telling people that they shouldn’t buy from you. You are, in fact, influencing people to do the opposite of what you wanted.
It wasn’t that they were physically incapable of figuring it out. It’s that they didn’t have the ability to do it.
How do we write copy that makes things simpler for people?
- Remember the audience.
A group of electrical engineers are likely going to know a heck of a lot more about electrical currents than some random guy off the street.
Write your content in a manner that is appropriate to the audience you are trying to reach. No one likes acronyms they don’t know or terms they don’t understand. Nor do they like to have their intelligence insulted. It’s a fine line.
- Look at your purpose.
Remember that simplicity is not a single faceted thing. Rather, it is a complex set of factors not least of which is perception.
If people think that something will be more difficult than it actually is, they will likely see it as simple. Making something appear more difficult than it actually is can therefore be a benefit, not a drawback.
Triggers come in a variety of forms. They can come from routine behaviors, or external factors.
Buttons with compelling copy, forms that promise and deliver solutions to problems, and phone numbers in easy to read fonts all are triggers for online users to do certain actions right now.
Even the most innocuous links to relevant content are, in fact, triggers.
Triggers are also doing much more than influencing you to do that one thing right now.
They influence entire behaviors. Take any contact form you’ve ever seen as an example. You don’t just fill it out and click the button.
No, that is just the beginning. Now you have an entire sequence of events before you that you will now need to participate in before getting whatever it was you wanted.
That trigger, painless though it is, is a commitment to seeing something through. Here, let me give you an example:
Those of you who have seen our homepage in recent days have doubtless seen this trigger.
Clearly, we’re appealing to people who have marketing problems- an ideal group of people for Fannit to provide services to.
Clicking on the Download button takes our illustrious users down the funnel to a landing page that asks for a little bit of information, and a checked box that gives people the option of requesting a consultation.
It’s a bit early to tell, but it’s already apparent that this trigger is a much softer sell than the large and in-charge form that was there before.
This trigger is much more than a simple download link.
It first calls out to the real or perceived need these visitors have, then facilitates that motivation to fulfill the need through simplicity.
The decision to click this button requires little effort, nor does the execution of the action. However, this sustains people through the landing page experience and maybe, just maybe, makes them want to keep that check box clicked before getting their download.