By Tom Trush
Did you happen to notice the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards' TV commercial that's in heavy rotation right now?
It offers an incredible lesson in marketing persuasion.
In the advertisement, a fake financial firm is set up on the 48th floor of a prominent office building. People are then invited in for a short presentation from a man who claims to be a financial advisor.
What they don't know is that the guy is actually a professional DJ with zero financial experience. In fact, he just knows a few financial-sounding phrases, dresses well and looks friendly.
You can watch here: https://youtu.be/e_Ql_7NCk0o
The CFP Board of Standards set up the experiment to prove that anyone can claim to be a financial advisor. They also wanted to show that any seemingly bright, well-educated consumer could fall for the trick.
And, sure enough, many believed they were meeting with a real financial advisor, describing him as knowledgeable, capable and trustworthy.
A similar situation -- with an opposite perspective -- played out with Paul McCartney in 1984.
McCartney was filming a movie called Give My Regards to Broad Street. During production, producers put him in front of a London railway station and asked him to perform his song "Yesterday," one of the most covered songs in recorded music history.
Check out the experiment (which made it into the movie) here: http://youtu.be/O4zT7VhpDcQ
Much to McCartney's surprise, not one person recognized him. Passing people viewed the singer as just another street performer. So they saw little reason to pay much attention.
Hard to believe, isn't it?
An entertainer described by Guinness World Records as "the most successful composer and recording artist of all time" was instantly transformed into an ordinary musician because of a change in environment.
Of course, if you turned on your TV tonight and saw McCartney playing at New York City's Madison Square Garden, you'd view him as someone with a high level of musical talent -- even if you didn't recognize him.
After all, he's on TV and performing at a famous arena.
So what's all this have to do with marketing?
Well, here's the reality:
Prospects decide whether your marketing message is worthy of attention by assessing quality and context.
The experiments I just shared with you refer to context -- or the environment where the information is consumed.
Think about it ...
How often do you give greater trust to published material? After someone writes a book or gets published in a high-profile publication, credibility follows.
You could post identical information on a pile of napkins (or even a flyer, email or website) and it wouldn't carry a fraction of the credibility offered by a published piece.
How and where you use your marketing materials determines the importance prospects place on them.
A couple months ago, I had a strategy session with a financial advisor wanting to offer a new service. It requires a client make a considerable time commitment and invest nearly $60,000.
The advisor's plan is to drive traffic to his website to generate leads. Problem is, the website is the equivalent to McCartney's dirty railway station. The design is outdated and the message gives prospects little reason to pay attention.
Furthermore, nothing is in place to position this financial advisor as an authority on the service he sells.
Sure, he has a special report that serves as a lead magnet. Yet the format looks like something my 10-year-old daughter could put together on her iPod Touch.
It's not something that matches a high-end, exclusive experience.
The message inside the report might offer incredible insight. Yet no one will see it because the context is so poor.
So remember, while quality content is critical, you must deliver it in proper context so prospects view it as valuable.
Tom Trush is available at http://www.writewaysolutions.com