What I learned about marketing from one of the biggest blunders of my career

What I learned about marketing from one of the biggest blunders of my career

Early on in my professional career, I learned a difficult lesson that will stick with me for the rest of my life. You see, I’m a trained engineer, and what matters to engineers is building things that work the way they were designed to.

So when I developed a commercial data analysis product based on my Ph.D. research, this product did what it was designed to do incredibly well. Not only did this product improve accuracy and decrease costs associated with measuring DNA using a method called qPCR, it actually pushed the envelope on what this method is capable of measuring. My product was truly a scientific breakthrough.

...Yet when it came time to sell this product, none of that mattered.

My company had trouble selling even a single copy of this software.

I was dumbfounded. I could not understand how something that was such a significant breakthrough would not be adopted by every biotech scientist.

Eventually, it dawned on me…

...Nobody will do business with you if you cannot effectively communicate what it is that you’re offering.

It didn’t matter that we had the best product of its kind on the market if we couldn’t effectively tell potential customers why they should use it. We were a company of scientists and engineers trying to sell a product that none of us knew how to sell effectively. We were all so excited about this product that we thought it was obvious why someone would use it.

We were dead wrong.

Since then, I’ve become a student of human behavior and influence. I’m fascinated by what the fields of behavioral economics, psychology, and neurobiology have revealed about the human brain and how we are influenced to make decisions.

Over the past few decades, science has shown that the human brain operates very differently than most of us imagine, especially when it comes to making a decision about whether or not to buy a product or service.

...In fact, science is validating what has been known by savvy marketers for over a century:

  • Selling is not convincing someone to buy
  • ...Selling is inspiring someone to take action

This means to sell your product or service, you need to get your customer emotionally invested in your product or service.

This is not quite as hard as it sounds.

In fact, it’s pretty formulaic.

It turns out, humans have evolved to respond emotionally to social cues. Dr. Robert Cialdini discovered that there are six social cues (also called social triggers) that humans have evolved to respond to. They are:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Scarcity
  3. Authority
  4. Consistency
  5. Liking
  6. Consensus

In a series of blog posts, I will discuss each of these social triggers in more depth. And I will discuss how you can ethically use these triggers in marketing your freelancing services to get a steady stream of customers, get more business from existing customers, raise your rates, and grow your business organically.

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In the meantime, check out this video from Dr. Robert Cialdini:

Do you have ideas about how you might be able to use these social triggers in marketing your freelancing services? Let us know in your comments below.