Spanning the globe for insights into human behavior and persuasion.



How to Get Rich Slow

As I've stated earlier, I believe great persuasive power comes from appealing to an audience's higher motivations with unchangeable truth. What I haven't written about is how to do this effectively.

The fact is, finding the nuggets of truth that appeal to people's most important values is extremely difficult. Putting those truths to use is even harder. It's much easier to market to our lower motivations -- greed, power, lust, etc.

A few years ago I worked for a Salt Lake City publisher/retailer called Deseret Book. They produce books, music and other products primarily for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Back in 2000 or 2001, they retained the services of a national research firm to help them understand what their audience valued most. The idea was that if they could know what was most important to their audience, they could use that information in their operations, their publishing, their retailing and, most importantly, their marketing.

They got some great data from that research (however, I'm honor-bound not to share it). But, in my opinion, they have yet to put the research into effective practice. They've come close. In 2002, after I had left the company, they introduced a new slogan -- What Matters to You Matters to Us. I believe they were trying to communicate that their audience could find books, music, video, software and other products that matched with their core values. Brilliant, I thought. But it wasn't more than a few months later that I saw them using a different slogan -- We price match for you.

Talk about an about face. Why move from a classy, meaningful slogan to one that is so... bleah?

Since I wasn't with the company at the time, I'm not certain why they made such an abrupt switch. I have a few theories, though. The execs at the time I worked there were infamously impatient. Maybe they didn't see immediate impact in cash flow. What's more likely is they were looking over their shoulder at the competitor, Seagull Book (yes, as wacked as it sounds, there's competition in the LDS book market). Seagull had been making steady inroads into Deseret Book's customer base, staking the claim as the place where you'd never pay full price. When I worked at Deseret Book, Seagull was hated, jeered ... and feared.

DB executives would do well to take the advice of Howard Mann of DIG Tank -- Lose Your Nemesis.

If I knew how to mass produce value appeals, I'd be a millionaire. Honestly, I don't know that there are seven habits or 12 steps that any company can use to even slowly produce value appeals. I believe the journey will be different for every company. But like any branding effort, value appeals are definitely NOT a get-rich-quick solution.

Okay, spill the beans! What CAN you tell us about the results of the research done for DB? Anything?
Full disclosure: I wasn't involved in the information gathering, and I was only tangentially involved in the information analysis, so I couldn't give you much authoratative background, even if it wouldn't put my head on a legal chopping block. But think about it... the research was conducted on Latter-day Saints, and they tried to determine what it was they valued most. If you know anyone from that demographic, you probably have a general idea of what's important to them.
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