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Lee Odden

SES San Francisco Keynote Interview: Susan Bratton on Persuasion Marketing

By Lee Odden     Interactive Marketing, Marketing PR Conferences, Online Marketing, Search Engine Strategies

susan bratton SES San Francisco is coming up fast and when I discovered that Susan Bratton was giving the opening keynote presentation and on a topic that I have been interested in for years, I wanted to make sure we did a pre-conference interview. For backstory, I met Susan the first time at an ad:tech conference in Chicago while she was the conference chair. That was the same conference where I first met Frank Gruber and David Berkowitz so it was a great networking experience. Since then Susan and I have crossed paths a number of times at events like SXSW and online.

Susan is a real pioneer when it comes to Online Marketing and media. She’s the CEO at Personal Life Media and hosted the famous DishyMix podcast since 2005 interviewing numerous digital marketing industry leaders. Besides serving on the board of several technology companies, Susan is the founder of two industry associations, the IAB and the ADM. At SES San Francisco, Susan will be talking about Conversion Triggers and Persuasion Strategies for Digital Marketers.

The power of persuasion and the role it takes within online content marketing is really a key aspect of online marketing and something that has had a lot more play in the advertising world than SEO or PPC. In this excerpt of our recent interview, Susan gives a preview of her SES keynote and talks about how she’s learned from experience the value and best practices of “getting into the psyche of your customer” to improve online marketing results.

Lee: Coming up very quickly is SES San Francisco. It’s probably one of the largest Search Marketing conferences in the world. You’ll be doing the opening keynote Tuesday, Aug 16th at 9am. The topic, Conversion Triggers: Persuasion Strategies for Digital Marketers is a really engaging, intersting and compelling topic to me because a lot of what we talk about on our blog and in our consultancy is about empathizing with customers and understanding what their pain points are, what is it that they need and what will inspire them to do what you want them to do.

I’d like to talk about the role of Persuasion Marketing. What is it? What might it mean to an audience of a couple of thousand people who are accustomed to a world of keywords, SEO and link building.

Susan: I can’t think of a better audience to present the concept of Persuasion Marketing to than a group of SESers because everybody in that audience lives and dies by choosing the right keyword phrases and reaching an audience that way. They already have a solid foundation of understanding of how important it is to “get the words right”. So, I feel really lucky to be able to do a keynote for them.

I’ll tell you what I’m really doing: Lee, you know you’re like me. Before we got on the interview today, you said “I’m a constant, a lifelong learner” and I’m with you., We’re both like that and so many of the people who follow us are. They want to know what we’re doing, because they’re lifelong learners too. Since I started the Personal Life Media business and started creating information products, all of my products are sold direct to consumers online.

In my keynote I’m actually going to be presenting a case study. I’m going to tell you what Persuasion Marketing is and then I’m going to show you how I used it. I’m literally today, right in the middle of a 4 day product launch for a brand new product. You’re going to laugh when you hear the name of it: It’s called “Revive Her Drive”. Pretty much every man who’s been in a relationship for more than a couple years is interested in taking the intimate life of his woman to the next level. And a lot of times it goes down instead of getting better. You’d think the more we do stuff the better we get, but a lot of times, life gets in the way.

So, I’ve written over 30 websites in the last 2 1/2 years of my business, selling these online information products. And they weren’t converting. I didn’t know what I was doing. But I really studied the information product marketers. Those guys know how to get someone to land on their page and make a purchase, better than anyone else that I’m aware of. Rememer how we used to say the Adult world were the leaders of information technology and if anyone could figure it out, they could? I don’t think that’s true anymore. It think it’s the information product marketers.

So, I’ve been studying how they do landing page conversion and with Google constantly changing what they want, tier one traffic sources are difficult to get, you can’t do squeeze pages and long form sales letters anymore, it’s a constantly changing landscape. These guys know how to speak to their customers. No matter what the landing page looks like, or no matter what Google’s making you do today to buy traffic from them, they know how to speak to their customer in a way that’s riveting. That connects, that grabs them by the guts and says, “I need this thing.” And that’s what I wanted to learn. That’s what I wasn’t getting right.

For the last 2 1/2 years I’ve been going to school. I’ve found my mentors and I’ve said, “Please gurus, tell me what I need to know. What should I be reading? What should I be learning?” And over the last 2 1/2 years I’ve read a ton of material, I’ve taken a ton of online training. What I did for SES, I pulled it all together and now that I look back and see all that I’ve learned, here are the 10-12 big things that I’d recommend you put your attention on, in order.

What I realized in looking back at all the things that I learned is that Persuasion Marketing is really 4 key elements. I’ve been a tech marketing chick for 30 years now, and I never knew this, I never figured this out until now. And that is, if you understand these 4 basic areas, I think this can have more impact on your conversion rate than anything else you can do. Because everything else is a short term tactic. Whether you’re learning to make Facebook pages convert, or learning the latest in search marketing strategies or whatever it is. Those are tactics that come and go. I’ve learned that from programming so many sessions at so many conferences for so many years. This year it’s search, next year it’s email, next year it’s video. It’s always something new. It’s an arms race for marketers in the technology arena.

But the fundamentals of understanding how to viscerally, emotionally connect with your customers so that they think to themselves, “This brand gets me.” That is a fundamental skill. I looked back at everything I did and it seemed that there are four key areas of knowledge that you need to know, that all fit together, that are “synergistic”, yes I’m using that word again. I’ve decided it’s a good word. I’m not back on “paradigm” yet, but I’m starting to use synergistic.

The four realms of Persuasion Marketing:

The first is Neuro-Marketing – The psychological triggers of influence, persuasion and action that we can get people to take, in a good way, to serve them, help them and not waste their time. We want them to find us and if they’re our person, we want them to know they’re our person and we want to create a relationship with them and support them with whatever it is that we do.

The second piece is Copywriting – This is where search marketers have a massive competitive advantage over any other kinds of marketers because they understand how important words are. They understand semantics, the value of all of that.

The third is Storytelling – This is where you go from, “These are features and benefits” to “Here’s a person who used my product or service and how it changed their life.” We tell a good story in dialog because you know, we all love a good story. When someone tells you, “Let me tell you a story”, your ears perk up.

Last is the notion of Structured Communication – You can think of this as a sales funnel, but it goes a lot beyond that to a series of emotions a customer goes through before they make a commitment to you. What do you need to tell them, in general order, before they’re going to be a “yes” to what you have to offer.

These four areas work together beautifully and each has their own disciplines and logic. When a customer experiences it, it’s compelling.

Lee: And it’s compelling what you just said in terms of what you just said. In terms of the model to go by, my interest is really piqued here. When you talk about storytelling, that’s something that’s been a meme, increasingly and reminds me of something I learned a long time ago: Facts Tell, Stories Sell. I really appreciate you talking about that.

And also the notion of having empathy and understanding of customers and the emotions they need to go through before they can make a commitment. That’s powerful stuff.

Susan: You have to feel your person.

Lee: In the world of SEO or search marketing at large, the ways in which those online marketers are trying to understand consumers, besides collecting data from web analytics or other data sources as part of the buying cycle, is the notion of keyword research. What words are in the mind of the searcher. What does your customer care about? Then that manifests as an action, such as a search. It’s an interesting thing to think of how powerful it would be for a search marketer to tap into the neural marketing aspect of what your talking about, copywriting and storytelling while still being keyword relevant, I think is very compelling.

Susan: What Garth (One of Susan’s Guru’s) taught me was, is that you should enter into the conversation that your prospect is having in their own mind. So when you’re writing to them, the words you should be using, would be the same words they have in their head. Using keywords is a really great start, but there are a lot of other strategies, that I’ll outline at SES. I’m going to show how I used those strategies to create Revive Her Drive.

Lee: SES San Francisco is coming up pretty quickly, August 15th-19th and actually, SES is part of Connected Marketing Week, a Mecca of learning for online marketers. I’m really looking forward to your keynote in the morning on the 16th. Any party advice or tips that you’d like to share?

Susan: The way to think about neuro marketing is to think about a human body and brain being an operating system and that it responds in certain ways to certain influences and triggers. Robert Cialdini teaches you standard sequences of human behavior. He teaches principles, like the principle of contrast: “Normally this sells for $17.95, but today and today only we’re offering it for only $7.95 and here’s why.” So it sounds like an expensive thing for cheap. Or the rule of reciprocity, or the rule of obligation, or the power of consistency which goes to trustworthiness. These are principles that you can learn that are ways humans typically behave when given these conditions. Those principles are really important to understand.

Also, Joel Sugarman’s psychological triggers like, humans’ desire to belong or to collect things. Also, objection raising or objection handling. You can’t start by overcoming people’s objections when you first connect with them, that comes later in the structured communication. You start to understand what we respond to as humans, but where it goes in the funnel of their emotional evolvement. As the relationship is evolving, you’re going to need to deal with as a marketer, these different components. Those are a few things that are important to learn. It makes sense that you start at the core understanding with neuro pshychology, then think about the pictures and the words, then tell stories instead of just bullets, and put it in a proper order. I hope that clarifies, that there’s a way to learn this and way to lay it into your work.

Lee: Yes it does. Thank you Susan!

Be sure to check out Susan Bratton’s keynote at SES San Francisco on Tuesday, August 16th ant 9am. You can also visit her deep library of podcasts on DishyMix.


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