All Marketing Is Human-to-Human Marketing (Regardless of Your Industry)

The following is an excerpt from The Strategic Marketer: Effective, Low-Cost, and Practical Marketing Strategies From the Agency Trenches, the upcoming book by Patrick Schober, the founder of Poetica Marketing. This excerpt has been modified from its original format.

Most marketing is labeled B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer). And most companies stick to one or the other depending on their business model.

Salesforce, the software company, is a major B2B company because they only sell to businesses.

McDonald’s, the fast-food restaurant, is a major B2C company because they only sell to consumers.

Some companies, like Dell, straddle both arenas. The “Dude, you’re getting a Dell!” commercials were geared toward household consumers in the early 2000s, but I recently received a flyer in the mail from Dell Technologies, which focuses on marketing to businesses and IT teams.

Depending on whether your company is primarily B2B or B2C, you probably rely on different marketing and sales techniques.

But I want you to forget about “B2B” and “B2C” when it comes to marketing.

Instead, I’d like you to remember one thing: All marketing is human-to-human.

Humans, after all, make the final purchase decision on everything.

If you’re not convinced, go to the store and walk down the pet food aisle. Take a close look at the dog food packaging. Depending on the brand, you’ll likely see succulent chunks of chicken, carefully sliced arrangements of bright orange yams, a scoop of wild rice, and maybe even a few vibrant green beans to balance out the rest of the colors.

They don’t add those ingredient images to the packaging so the bag stands out to your dog.

They do that for you.

Even though the product is meant for canine consumption, dog food companies spend significant amounts of money making their packaging more appealing to pet owners—people.

This is human-to-human marketing.

If you connect to your prospects, leads, and existing customers as people, you can make significant emotional connections that simplify your marketing strategies and improve outcomes.

The Ongoing Resistance to Human-to-Human Marketing

Not all companies are open to a human-to-human approach, especially those companies that have a history of formality in their marketing efforts.

To be fair, it’s difficult to go against the grain suddenly, especially when you’re in an industry where customers expect a certain sort of stuffiness.

For example, if you manufacture life-saving surgical equipment for surgeons, your customers likely expect a serious, calculated voice with a hint of optimism in your copy. There’s no space for jokes on your product packaging; a life-saving business is a serious business.

There’s a similar level of gravity in the funeral industry. Sure, your marketing copy can have a tinge of hope for the afterlife of the deceased, but the tone should reflect the somber mood of the target audience.

Still, there are many opportunities to inject a human element into your marketing, even when you’re tied to a very specific, traditional approach.

Case Study: Balancing Human-to-Human with B2B Tendencies

One local company I work with is extremely resistant to change, especially in its marketing tactics. They serve a very mature client across sophisticated industries and they’ve historically relied heavily on brand reputation and traditional marketing techniques to bring in new customers and retain the ones they have.

In many cases, their marketing is pretty dry: Here’s a new product we developed, here’s how it benefits you, here’s how you can get it.

It’s not really the type of strategy that works well on social media, and social media was something they were curious about—but not exactly enthusiastic for.

Their own internal members, who are mostly 50+ years old and unfamiliar with the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn, didn’t see how it could effectively impact their business.

To their credit, social media wasn’t very impactful—not at first, at least. They treated their social media presence much like the rest of their marketing materials: They continually focused on their own business instead of thinking about what their target audience cared about.

I recommended a fundamental shift in their marketing tactics, focusing largely on LinkedIn, a platform where they were more likely to connect with decision-makers interested in their products and services.

Taking their limited time and budget into consideration, I recommended this small shift to start, focusing heavily on LinkedIn:

  1. Highlight their individual team members in their posts on a more frequent basis, and be sure to tag those individuals in those posts. This gets their people out in front, which emphasizes the humanity within their communications.
  2. Use quotes about their products and services from their expert team members, and tag those individuals in the subsequent posts. Again, this mixes a human into a very dry topic, and it also highlights that individual’s expertise while growing their audience.
  3. Write one article a month from the perspective of one of their in-house subject matter experts, highlighting one of the business’s most popular products or services. Here, we’re again highlighting an individual’s expertise, and we’re essentially writing blog content on LinkedIn designed to be consumed on LinkedIn, which builds the individual’s professional community while highlighting the brand’s impact.
  4. Share all of this content through the company’s other social media channels.
  5. Encourage all of their other team members to share the articles written by their peers. (While this proved to be a difficult task, the results were promising when people did engage—for reasons we’ll explore in Chapter 6.)

The reasons behind all of this:

  1. Instead of pushing content out from a faceless brand, we could push content from actual people with friends and family and thoughts and emotions. This helps followers connect with the brand on a more human level.
  2. The subject matter experts could boost their position within the professional community while being easier to connect with than a cold, emotionless brand.

Slowly but surely, the plan worked. Compared to the rest of their content, the posts and articles featuring their team members (especially their team member’s friendly faces) worked much better—consistently earning more than triple the engagement and impressions their general content earned.

There’s still much to do. Their accounts are generally small, and the communities surrounding their team members aren’t enormous, but the company is now benefiting from:

  • Better insight into brands that are closely paying attention to their content and team members (thanks to LinkedIn’s detailed reporting)—potentially beneficial to their salespeople.
  • Increased engagement across all channels—which provides us with better insights when creating content in the future.
  • Increased website traffic, which leads to more opportunities to create online conversions and sales.

By continuing to invest in more thoughtful strategies, this company can continue to evolve and make human connections with their target audience.

This case study is a valuable reminder: Even historically B2B companies have an opportunity to inject humanity into their brand. Doing so can quickly make them more relatable, and that relatability makes them more approachable and easier to trust.

Creating Human Connections

If you’re not accustomed to approaching your marketing from a human-to-human perspective, this can feel like a jarring change.

That’s OK. All change feels weird at first.

But if you can commit to approaching your target audience where they are to solve the problems they’re facing, you’ll experience better results.

Here are some ways to help you get started:

1. Emphasize people to create value. Begin by putting faces ahead of your logo in much of your marketing (a topic we’ll dive into momentarily). Yes, your logo matters, but it’s worthless if people don’t have an emotional connection to your brand. If you’re a solopreneur, this likely means you need to show your own face more often!

In addition to your marketing, you can forge these human connections through many other alternative avenues:

  • Provide an outstanding product/service experience – Example: Patagonia. Patagonia has built its reputation on developing durable products, and any damaged Patagonia product can be returned for repairs.
  • Provide outstanding customer support – Example: Zappos. Shoe company Zappos has become legendary for its world-class customer service!
  • Tell the human side of your brand story through your marketing materials – Example: Toms. Another shoe company, Toms has always emphasized its philanthropic efforts as much as its own products.

2. Give a face to your products and services. In today’s digital world, it’s never been easier to connect with your audience as a fellow human. A few strategies:

  • Use video. Create videos on YouTube and other social media channels explaining your products and services. These don’t have to be high-quality productions with Hollywood budgets. Instead, many of today’s biggest gurus rely on a simple webcam and microphone, and more simply hold their phone in front of their face!If you’ve ever come across an influencer whose Instagram profile is packed with “reels,” there’s a good reason: videos work at garnering fans and converting leads. In fact, algorithms on many of today’s most popular social media platforms have been modified to value videos over simple text posts or image posts, meaning a video has a better chance of showing up in the feed over a still image.Anecdotally, I can tell you that my engagement on Monster Riff increased significantly when I started posting videos to IGTV (a place for long-form videos on Instagram) every Saturday in a series I call Saturday Music Suggestions.The videos are simple, and they’re only about 5-10 minutes long. All I do is set my phone on my desk with myself in the frame, and then I detail three albums I listened to and was excited about in the previous week. In my post copy, I then tag the bands and the albums I just mentioned.

    Afterward, I create a simple thumbnail image for the video—a text overlay that says “Saturday Music Suggestions,” the Monster Riff logo, and the covers of the three albums I discuss.

    The process is pretty simple, but the end product is engaging enough to get people to watch and get involved. Better yet, they specifically mention these videos when they reach out in my Instagram DMs or via email to solicit feedback on albums or Monster Riff services.

  • Start a podcast. Yes, I know, this isn’t 2006 anymore. Once upon a time, podcasts were the hot new thing, and everyone asked, “Should I have a podcast?” The same thing happened during the app craze: “Should my company have an app?” Now, I’m not telling you to start a podcast willy nilly. If you start one and it’s terrible, it’ll reflect poorly on your brand—and that’s not necessarily something you can risk.I do have one for Monster Riff (it’s called Monster Riff Presents), and although I only have a few episodes under my belt and the audio quality is something I’m constantly working to improve, the results have been interesting. I’ve noticed that some of the people who’ve reached out to me for the first time after listening to the podcast have a very casual tone—as if they already know me.On a certain level, they do. I give all of my thoughts and opinions and even some of my personal backstory during the podcast, so they know more about me than I do about them.And since they already know, like, and trust me, that makes the first conversation go much more smoothly, especially if I have to end up trying to sell them on something.

    If you can dedicate yourself to the effort involved in regular, high-quality podcasting, you can create a new lead generation tool that pulls in highly qualified prospects.

  • Become the face of the brand. I know many business owners who are reluctant to publicly promote their brand with themselves at the face of the company. It seems backward, but it’s an understandable response for those individuals who are uncomfortable with the spotlight.Taking the spotlight is necessary, however, especially if you’re flying solo, as you are the brand. If you feel uncomfortable as the face of your brand, remember: People like you more than you think. Those who care will become your cheerleaders, and they’ll help promote you as well.

3. Leverage reviews. Testimonials from living, breathing people are powerful forms of social proof. And your testimonials can fit everywhere—your website, your marketing materials, even on your products.

If you’re not actively asking for reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or anywhere else your company has a presence, now is the time to do so. And don’t worry so much about the ratings; it’s OK if you occasionally receive four or three or even two or one stars.

Research from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center and PowerReviews found the sweet spot for reviews is somewhere between 4.2 to 4.5 stars because it indicates that you and your brand are human. You might not be perfect 100% of the time, and you might not provide the perfect product or service for everyone, but the knowledge of where your brand might come up short compels people to trust you more.

In other words: Seeing a slew of 5-star reviews may feel too good to be true. And if you have detailed reviews, both negative and positive, those can be extremely helpful for potential customers who are doing their research ahead of time, as they can filter through consumer opinions to see how they align with their own priorities.

All of this can be used in your favor, like on a sales page where your customers might need a testimonial or review to help push them over the edge.

Always use your reviews to your advantage. And if you don’t have any or many reviews yet (and many small businesses don’t), it’s time to get moving. Your reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Tripadvisor, and other platforms can be extremely influential in your discoverability and in consumer decisions.

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to procuring reviews, ask your closest clients and regular customers for help first. Even a small handful of reviews can give your company a boost—and you can use their words in your own marketing!

4. Use case studies as examples. I included a case study at the beginning of this chapter for a few different reasons:

  • Case studies are stories, and stories are fun and easy to remember.
  • Case studies are teaching tools.
  • Case studies are relatable.

Most importantly, though, case studies demonstrate how an idea can work in practice—instead of in theory.

When you leverage your case studies, you immediately demonstrate that you’re capable of generating the desired results your customers are after.

The Subtle Art of Persuasion In Marketing

As you pursue deeper human connections with your target audience, remember that marketing best practices are deeply steeped in human psychology. And while I don’t want this chapter to turn into a dissertation on the human mind and the way we make decisions as consumers, there’s value in spending a brief amount of time discussing the subtle art of persuasion. If you read this section and find you’re really passionate about persuasion, check out Robert Cialdini’s Influence, which is often recognized as the golden standard in persuasion best practices.

The concept of persuasion and influence in marketing is essential to our overall marketing strategies. As marketers, we’re ultimately trying to compel people to buy a product or service—but we can’t always jump to that step right away.

Instead, we first have to establish trust and awareness with our target audience. Sometimes that means persuading someone to watch a compelling video. Sometimes that means persuading them to read a compelling email. Sometimes that means persuading someone to sign up for a compelling free trial.

Simply put: Persuasion is one of the most powerful skills you can develop as a leader and marketer!

With that in mind, let’s review some of the most common persuasion tactics you’ll come across in marketing:

1. Reciprocity – Reciprocity is simply making someone feel compelled to do something for you because you did something for them. Examples:

  • A snack food company sends a micro-influencer a bag of their new cheese curls so they’ll share them on social media.
  • A company that publicly volunteers time and resources to a popular nonprofit and broadcasts news of its service to the rest of the community.

2. Scarcity – One of the most common marketing tactics out there, scarcity relies on our fear of missing out on an opportunity, whether it be purchasing a product, service, or experience. Some of the most common examples:

  • Airplane or hotel websites listing how many seats/rooms are still available while someone is actively shopping.
  • Online coaches running advertisements saying they’re only taking four more clients before closing their course to the public.

3. Urgency – Closely related to scarcity, urgency focuses largely on the limitation of time. Common examples:

  • “Limited-Time Offer!” written at the top of a newspaper spread.
  • Offering 50% off for the next 24 hours.

4. Social proof – Social proof, which we mentioned above, is when a company relies on customer reviews, industry awards, or similar trophies to demonstrate that they’re a trustworthy, reliable company. Some examples of social proof you’ve probably seen:

  • Using a review from a customer in your marketing materials.
  • Hiring a local, national, or international spokesperson to represent your brand. (We’ll discuss influencer marketing in our next section.)

5. Authority – Closely related to social proof, authority is about demonstrating you’re the go-to vendor in your industry. Examples:

  • A quote from a subject matter expert or critic on the front of a book. (You might notice one on the final cover of The Strategic Marketer!)
  • Wedding photographers using the Best of Weddings badge from The Knot on their website to showcase how consistently high their reviews are.

Weaving these concepts into the rest of your marketing tactics can be incredibly powerful for your long-term success, so look for opportunities to use them wherever you can!

Leveraging the Power of ‘You’

Another major piece of the persuasion puzzle is speaking directly to your target audience. Unfortunately, that’s an area where many small brands struggle.

In fact, one of the most common problems I see on company websites and marketing materials is ab innate obsession with talking about themselves.

“We offer the best prices!”

“We have the best selection!”

“We won the people’s choice award!”

Early on in the sales process, people don’t really care about you or your company. They care about what you or your company is able to do for them.

That’s why it’s so important to keep the focus on your audience throughout your marketing copy. The easiest way: Use more you-focused language.

Let’s take a look at those phrases above and revise them ever so slightly:

“Me/We” Language Original: “We offer the best prices!”

“You” Language Rewrite: “You’ll find the best prices!”

“Me/We” Language Original: “We have the best selection”

“You” Language Rewrite: “You’ll find everything you’re looking for!”

“Me/We” Language Original: “We won the people’s choice award!”

“You” Language Rewrite: “Thank you for making us the winners of the people’s choice award!”

Now, each of those rewritten sentences could be workshopped and improved even further, but you can already see the improvement. When you speak directly to your audience and talk about the value you bring them—the way you can meet their needs, concerns, and desires—you’ll perform better in your marketing.

A Useful Exercise

Try this exercise to audit your marketing materials: Look through your website, social media, and all other materials and note everywhere you use “we,” “me,” or “I” language. In each instance, ask yourself:

Does this sentence need to be about me/my company?

If not, see how you can rewrite it to focus on your target audience.

The results will be much better.

As a more immediate example, take a look at how this book is written. I’ve frequently tried to address you (and most good business books will do the same), and that makes it a more compelling and educational read than starting every sentence by talking about myself.

Understanding Influencer Marketing: Enlisting Humans to Sell to Humans

One concept that’s closely related to persuasion is influencer marketing. Influencer marketing has been around for hundreds of years, and it has endured for one simple reason: It works.

In fact, the ROI on influencer marketing can be outstanding. Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2020 report found some marketers earn up to $18 for every dollar they invest in influencers. The average marketer posts an ROI of a little under $6 per dollar invested, but that’s still a massive return—and it’s better than many digital ad campaigns!

Influencer marketing is especially popular today among younger age groups. Research shows they’ve grown up seeing advertisements everywhere they look in the digital world, and they want to know they can trust a brand to solve their problems before making a purchase.

What Counts As Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. One of the most common forms occurs through social media with prominent celebrities. For example, a lipstick manufacturer might pay Kim Kardashian West to push their product to her 230 million+ followers on Instagram—allowing them to get in front of millions of people who look to Kim Kardashian West for fashion advice and recommendations.

But influencer marketing also includes:

  • Shaquille O’Neal (the former NBA star) representing the Epson printer brand through social media ads.
  • A small town partnering with a beloved former mayor on radio spots and TV commercials to encourage people to attend an upcoming car show.
  • A snack food company distributing their custom cheese puffs to a variety of Instagram influencers who have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers.

In its simplest terms, influencer marketing is whenever a company relies on someone with influence over a certain group of people to promote a product, service, or brand. Take note: As we’ll explore in a few moments, being famous doesn’t necessarily make you an influencer!

Identifying the Right Influencer For Your Brand

Identifying a great influencer for your brand is harder than it seems. Instinct would tell you anyone with a sizable following would be a good fit, but that’s hardly ever the case.

As an example, let’s think about the Shaquille O’Neal and Epson example I mentioned before.

As a basketball fan, I like Shaq. But as a marketer, I don’t understand this play from Epson. In an influencer marketing campaign, Epson should look for someone who has a sizable and engaged following that appreciates office products and cares about Epson. Sure, Shaq is a recognizable celebrity, but I’m nearly positive the cross-section of office supply purchasers and Shaq fans is fairly limited.

Instead, Epson would likely have seen better success trying to connect with a household name that’s better known for their business world prowess. A few potential examples:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Tony Robbins
  • Guy Raz
  • Arianna Huffington

Any of these individuals would have been a better fit because they’re all known for their business acumen and office experience. Promoting a printer wouldn’t feel totally out of place for any of them.

As we move through the next few sections, remember: A good influencer for your brand is anyone who has influence over a portion of your target audience, not necessarily someone famous.

Finding the Right Fit

The ideal influencer for your business will have two major selling points:

  1. An engaged following that aligns closely with your target audience.
  2. A “sizable” overall follower base. “Sizable” in this context means any number of followers that aligns with your overall goals. If you’re aiming to sell 10,000 widgets in a single campaign, you probably don’t want to work with a total of one micro-influencer with only 10,000 followers.

Multiple tools are available on the market to help you identify potential influencer partners. As of this writing, products like Upfluence, BuzzSumo, and Awario can help you identify numerous starting points, but you’ll still have plenty of research left to conduct (which we’ll discuss in the next section_.

Although it’s critical to choose influencers who can help you achieve your goals, don’t overlook the power of micro-influencers—those individuals with a relatively small but engaged follower base. Under the right circumstances, micro-influencers can be incredibly impactful to your bottom line, and they’re often less expensive than bigger influencers.

In an ideal world, you should also seek influencers who have built up their following through their own original, industry-related content on your target platform.

To illustrate, let’s revisit the Epson-Shaq example. Shaq has nearly 20 million Instagram followers, but most of those individuals follow him because of the celebrity status he’s earned through his sports career—not necessarily because the content he posts is especially funny or creative.

Returning to our previous point, Epson might have seen better results from that campaign by partnering with someone who:

  • Is recognizable to your average office worker or household.
  • Is known for their business experience and leadership.
  • Has a large, established presence on social media.

Vetting An Influencer Before Working Together

When you’re vetting an influencer for a potential campaign, you should ensure that they can have an engaged audience that’s likely to buy your products or services. Before passing along a contract, consider asking these questions:

  • What does your creative process look like when you create content on behalf of other brands?
  • How many times have you worked with a brand like mine before?
  • What sort of results did you generate while working with brands like mine or in my industry?
  • What sort of measurable results from past campaigns can you show me?

If the influencer is relatively small or inexperienced, they may not be capable of providing these numbers, but that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker. If their fans are genuinely engaged and they’ve created high-quality content in the past, they may be capable of generating results for your company.

Instead of using your entire influencer budget on them, you might consider using a smaller portion of it to test them out on a trial basis.

Tracking Success

As with all of your other marketing efforts, track your success when working with influencers. Some strategies you can use:

  • Add UTM codes to the end of any URL you provide to the influencer so you can track any website traffic they generate. (Note: You can track UTM code performance in Google Analytics, a free tool from Google.)
  • Provide them with a special promo code to give to their followers. You should then be able to track this promo code in your sales platform.
  • Pay close attention to your metrics across all of your social media channels before, during, and after your campaign together.

Influencer marketing can feel scary because it requires giving up a certain level of control over how your brand is presented in the real world. But the results speak for themselves. When you choose the right influencer partners, you can see a massive ROI on your marketing.

Leveraging the Lock-In Effect (And How to Overcome It)

While influencer marketing is a worthy marketing tactic, it can require a significant financial investment to launch your campaign. When exploring new ways to leverage human psychology in your marketing efforts, leverage the lock-in effect.

What’s the lock-in effect? The lock-in effect is essentially that small tug that forces us to stick with the companies we know instead of trying something different.

As a business owner, marketer, and consumer, you’ve undoubtedly created and fallen to the lock-in effect in some capacity.

Think of all of your repeat customers who come back time and time again. It’s not just your friendly smile and outstanding service that keeps people around. It’s the lock-in effect.

You’ve likely experienced the lock-in effect in your own life as a consumer. Examples:

  • Windows/Apple Products. If you used a Windows computer last year, you’re probably using one this year. If you had an iPhone last year, you probably have an iPhone this year. We, as people, don’t like learning new operating systems or technology, and we have a preference for the one we’re more familiar with—even if the alternative accomplishes the same basic tasks in the same amount of time at a lower price point.
  • Grocery stores. Once you’ve found a store that is conveniently located and you’ve learned the basic layout, you’ll likely continue shopping there for the majority of your shopping adventures—even when they raise the prices on your favorite goods.
  • Churches. People have every right to shop around when it comes to churches, but the community aspect (both the friendships developed within the congregation and the power of sharing a common belief) of a church prevents most people from ever leaving. If a religious person lives in the same community their whole life, there’s a good chance they’ll attend the same church for their entire life as well.

In each of these cases, you could easily switch—but the lock-in effect often means you’ll need to exert more effort than switching is worth.

Strategies For Creating the Lock-In Effect

So, how do we create the lock-in effect? Any business can create a lock-in effect, and you’ve likely already done so to a certain extent. And while there are more nefarious means of locking people into a contract or service (some gyms, for example, require you to cancel your membership in person, which may be just annoying enough to shrug off $30 for another month), we want to take a more respectable approach.

Some strategies you can employ:

  • Be consistent in your quality and performance. In many ways, being consistent is more important than being the best in the industry, though you should generally strive to be better than your competition. If people know they’ll get good service/products every time they visit you, they’re more likely to stick with you.
  • Be convenient—in all aspects. There are many ways to unpack the word “convenient.” You can be convenient in terms of location, price structure, type of offering—the list goes on and on. A few common examples that aren’t reliant on location:
    • A hotel that has an in-house bar and car rental/shuttle service.
    • A bank that offers robust online banking options and mobile services.
    • Amazon’s ability to offer 2-day delivery on many of its products.
  • Share your awards and accolades. People want to take pride in their choices, and they’re more willing to stick around if they have a reminder that you’re an award-winning company. We discussed the idea of social proof earlier in this chapter, and it’s important to the lock-in effect.
  • Share your values. Your values can help people connect with your brand. Toms, the shoe company, has built an enormous brand by donating shoes and profits back into the community. Their shoes are stylish and comfortable enough, but it’s often the feeling of helping to give back that has their customers returning to buy a second or third pair of Toms.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it should be enough to help you get started. To generate even more ideas, pay close attention to your customers and target audience. What do they want or need that your competitors aren’t already providing?

Strategies For Overcoming Your Competition’s Lock-In Effect

Your competitors have their own lock-in effects working on their behalf, and that means their customers are unlikely to come to you—unless you can overcome the competing lock-in effects.

I don’t want you to stoop to smear campaigns against your competition. Instead, there are many other strategies you can use to pull consumers away from your competitors and into your own business.

If your company provides any sort of service (investing, insurance, law firm, real estate, etc.), much of this can be addressed during the sales process. Some common protests you’ll hear from prospects—and potential responses you can use:

  • Protest: “I’ve been with [competitor] for 10 years.” Potential response: “That’s great! I value and respect loyalty as well. When was the last time they sat down with you to address your individual needs?”
  • Protest: “[Competitor] just makes it easy.” Potential response: “I can respect that, but is that all you’re really paying them for? You should be getting additional value in other areas, right?”
  • Protest: “[Competitor] always does a good job.” Potential response: “[Competitor] is a strong company with a strong reputation. We actually share many of the same clients, as my company is able to do [assorted capabilities], while [competitor] doesn’t offer those services.”

For retailers and online stores, where foot traffic and web traffic are critical, overcoming the lock-in effect can be easier—but you have to be strategic in your approach. Some examples of strategies that can help you overcome the lock-in effect include:

  • A persistent, targeted ad campaign. We don’t discuss advertising much in this book, but it can be the trick needed to pull your target audience away from their typical vendor. This is especially true in cases where the lifetime value of a single customer far outweighs the acquisition costs!
  • Rely on the persuasion tactics we just discussed, and wrap those tactics into your overall marketing copy, imagery, and videos.
  • Make it as easy (and exciting) as possible to switch. There are options to get creative here. Email discount codes for first-time shoppers. Use EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail, commonly used by restaurants) to get your offerings in front of local clientele. Offer a buy-one-get-one offer for a limited time to new shoppers.

Remember: Getting people through your sales process is one thing, but getting them to come back is much different—and much more important. Continue to focus on building the lock-in effect, and you can ensure your customers continue returning to your company for years to come.

The Strategic Marketer will be available to purchase online in September 2021.