We Are Oblivious to Hidden Cues That Affect Our Perceptions and Actions

This may not work on hormonally-hit teenagers (sorry weary parents) yet you might try it with friends, customers or colleagues. Suppose, for example, you’re tired of the dirty cups in the office coffee nook. Try spraying the air with a lemony scent reminiscent of a cleaning agent.

When those sloppy colleagues smell it they are more likely to tidy up. That’s what several psychologists have discovered, including Jonathan Haidt, Henk Aarts, Aaron Kay and John A. Bargh. Malcolm Gladwell describes some of Bargh’s “spooky” experiments that demonstrate the power of this effect.

This technique called priming. We are usually unaware that it is happening to us.

Yet it affects our attention, memories, performance and relationships. It prompts us taking a certain action, such as cleaning up that nook or alter an opinion.

Here’s another example. Yale students who’d volunteered to be part of a study were sent, one-by-one, down a hallway to the study they passed a lab assistant in the hallway.

As the assistant’s hands were full, holding a clipboard, textbooks, papers and a cup of either hot or iced coffee, he asked each student for a hand with the cup. A few minutes later the students read about a fictional person then ranked that individual on a range from warm, thoughtful and social to cold, selfish and less social.

You guessed it. Those who’d held the cup of hot coffee were more likely to rank that individual more positively than the students who’d held the iced java. They were “primed” to do so. Bargh and Robert Wyer relate this effect to “the automaticity of everyday life.”

As you’ve anticipated, priming can prompt “good” and “bad” behavior. See how Derren Brown “turned the tables” on persuasion experts – two thoughtful advertising executives with a priming “trick.”

We can also use this psychological nudge on ourselves to make better decisions or to simply feel better.



feel better



DiscoverAbility: Translating Lessons Publishers are Being Forced to Learn into Ways You Can Sell More – with Others

Publishers are slowly waking up to the fact that their “greatest challenge” “in the digital age” is discoverability,discover6_556611ab60 notes Laura Hazard Owen. Yet what she writes is increasingly true for almost any kind of business or other organization, whether it yet sells online or not.

To be more easily discovered, hone  these seven traits:

1. Be the easiest to find on any screen, from online to mobile apps — created by others or by your business. Increasingly those are the first two places we look for something. Then involve others in your story so they can become part of it, remix it and tell others, as Peter Gruber suggests.  That makes it more discoverable.

smashingideasrandomhousebertelsmannlogo_thumbThat’s why Bertlesman-owned Random House bought interactive, Smashing Ideas – to involve people more deeply in their content so they would share it and learn and make happy memories – with others.

And that’s why the collaborative video editing community, Stroome is rapidly growing. It enable people to share and remix video, often turning it into something greater they want to share. Imagine partnering with one or more people there to co-create a video related to your content. TEDxUSC, for example, partnered with Stroome to create a video scavenger hunt for their event. strome

2. Be the most recommended online. What specific kinds bragging rights and other benefits accrue to those who tout your organization? Keep finding more ways to reward authentic, high-quality testimonials.

3. Host the most popular online community for people to share and compare ideas on why and how to use the products or services they can get from you. This isn’t relevant to some businesses yet it is to any that sell a variety of products or services from multiple vendors. Plus any member-based group from clubs to civic groups and professional associations.netflix-big

4. Offer a Netflix-like feature that also allows buyers, renters or members to make recommendations and to easily see what is most popular with those who share your tastes. Enable recommenders to make their name visible, if they wish, so they can build reputation as they can at GoodReads or, more simply, via a “Like” feature. Such social features generate value for the host of the online community as well as for the most popular contributors.

According to Paid Content, Google eBookstore appears to be planning a Netfix-like e-book rental service. Your business, too, can become more discoverable and can keep people involved using a recommendation system that builds participants’ reputations.

recommendRecommendation systems that build reputations also makes clubs and other non-profits and causes more discoverable and valuable. Use it to attract more kinds of support, and to hone your mission and model of service in ways that supporters show they most value.

5. Sell More Digital Content

If you sell content of any kind, turn it digital, if you haven’t yet done so. If you sell a physical product, sell and/or give away related guides, games, situation-specific advice and sponsor online contests to pull the best advice out experts who sell to the same kind of people, your current or prospective customers or suppliers.

Offer prizes, from your business and from others who want to reach your kind of customer. Make the names of winners highly visible on your site, not just when they win but forever. Shine a spotlight on them in other parts of their lives and reflect in the glow of expanded exposure for everyone. Do this by asking participants, “ What other organizations and individuals shall we notify when you win?”

6. Adopt the Easiest Way to Sell the Same Content to More People

Translate your content (guide, reference, course, etc.) into other languages. That may appear obvious yet here’s the facts that may spur you to act sooner, if you have not already: Barnes & Noble’s foreign-language e-books are now growing faster than their sales of English e-books—increasing over 100 percent each month, according to Patricia Arancibia who manages international content for the bookseller. That’s a strong indication there may be pent-up demand for other kinds of content, from vocation-specific learning course material to product ordering catalogues.

For starters, try Spanish. 50.5 million Hispanics live in the United States, according to the 2010 census. That’s 16.3% of the population and more than half of our nation’s growth in past decade.

7. Provide the Best Value and Price in Real Time

Establish the capacity to swiftly change prices. Writes Owen, “When Perseus Books Group set out to learn more about pricing, Joe Mangan, COO, said they realized how little they knew about it: ‘Online retailers were repricing books every two or four hours.’”garden-ants-trees-shrubs-bushes-flowers-rock-stone-brick-03

8. Enable People to Get Something Done Better, Faster and Easier — so More People Choose to Do it

Join forces with other businesses and organizations that serve the same situation. For example many people would enjoy a flower garden or other landscaping around their home or on their condo balcony. Yet more people might get one if the service was seamless. That is, they could go online, guided by experts and other user recommendations to buy the native plants that work best in their area.

Some might also want to have a landscape plan drawn up, one that includes a checklist of what to buy. Clicking to another part of the online community buyers might select the nursery, delivery options and gardeners to plant and/or maintain the garden – plus related professionals, from fence and patio makers to arborists. Such an online community enables buyers to make smarter decisions faster.

Happy buyers — and the vendors that serve them – may proudly post online their dramatic “before and after” photos. Most active recommenders and/or biggest spenders may get bonus gifts from one or more of the participating suppliers that gain visibility by making offers that cite those gifts.

Such a local online community might be hosted by a national firm that makes, say, plant food. That corporation might have a templated online community design built that can be modified for different locales. The corporation hosts the online community for local nurseries, landscapers and gardeners to join, as well as for the individuals they seek to serve. The company gains visibility as the major underwriter and manager of the online community. It could post legal language to prevent liability from the members’ information or service provided. It would provide, multiple online ways for buyers and providers to offer ideas and recommendations.

What are other online methods to make an organization more discoverable? I’d love to hear your real life examples and your “what-if” dream scenarios.

Serve Your Customers’ Situation Better by Partnering

Three real-life, partner-based success stories show you how to attract more customers whileTrust spending less on promotion.

How can you adapt these approaches to your kind of business so more people discover you, often through vendors they trust, and are eager to buy?

1. Together Become a Bigger Location-Centered Magnet to Attract More People

Two tenants in a struggling strip mall in Vallejo, California began sharing space and cross-promoting their services. That attracted other nearby businesses. Now several medical offices, a beauty salon and some restaurants have morphed into a virtual co-op – doing better together than they were on their own.

The medical-related services (Jackson Medical Supply, Cal Nurse Training Institute, dentists and doctors) sometimes offer each other’s’ patients or clients free screenings so they get a warmed-up introduction to prospective new patients.

All partners also joined forces to hold a party and a fundraiser for the city’s needy.

baby_cuisine_cover_onlyk3little 2. Serve a Specific Niche Better Together

Baby Cuisine author Shane Valentine shifted from serving mommies to also creating fresh food for the elderly when he partnered with another business also located in his Marin County, Living Well provides a broad mix of medical, logistical, safety and lifestyle services that enable older people to live longer in their homes.living-well

Meeting with Living Well’s caregivers Valentine customizes healthy versions of familiar comfort foods – like fried chicken – that many seniors cite as favorites.

3. Serve a Very Specific Situation Where Partners’ Jobs Are Easier With You Involved

libre_shirtAfter watching her mother staining clothes while taking her dialysis treatments several times a week, Megan Stengel and her partners began designing functional yet attractive clothing with hidden zippers and other alterations.

Their firm, Libre Clothing, now partners with grateful dialysis clinics, hospitals and the National Kidney Foundation to make it easier and more comfortable for their “mutual market” of patients to undergo chemotherapy, dialysis or other treatments requiring intravenous lines, catheters or infusion tubes.

Partner Up to Create Media-Attracting First-Evers

meetupMeetup and GE’s partnership startled many people who wrote about it yet the companies had a sweet spot of mutual benefit. They both serve people who care about clean technology. So joining forces to launch a crowdsourcing contest for best ideas for a smart grid made sense.

Each company has a different “personality” and could reach people in different ways. One was a global corporation (that will reward winners) and the other is a small, young company that enables face-to-face gatherings – many of them centered on outdoor and environmental interests.

There’s something innately interesting to reporters about big/small company partnerships as American Express confirmed years ago when it co-created evening events (turned into ads and a coffee table book) at picturesque diners like San Francisco’s Fog City Diner.

As with the GE/Meetup partnership, a global corporation, American Express, benefitted from the colorful, credible “faces” offog-city-diner-0002-big.jpg smaller, local partners. Plus American Express also became a part of in-person experiences while paying the tab that the smaller partners could not afford – generating more visibility for the credit card firm and for the popular local bistros than any of them could have in a “solo” promotion.

See the movie, Waiting for Superman, in L.A. or N.Y. and get a $15 voucher from DonorsChoose to give to a classroom of your choice. The movie producers, Participant Media and the online donation portal have an overlapping “mutual market” – people who want to improve education.

waiting-for-dfileVia this campaign the backers of the movie motivate more people to see and talk about the movie while the non-profit gets introduced to a fresh audience of donors, many of whom may stay involved.

This campaign provides a clear, specific and time-limited reason for parents and school administrators and teachers to talk about it to secure money for a classroom.

Want a way to stand out from your competition? Like to attract more “customers” and resources without spending more? More »

8 Ways to Co-Promote Products or Projects

fans-of-sparks2Even when novelists dream of fame and fortune few probably dream this big. Lucky Nicholas Sparks.

Even before the screenplay is written a partnering-inclined movie producer joined forces with a publisher to launch a huge promotional campaign for the book from which it will be made – Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven.safehaven

This is a first.

The partners’ plan is to build buzz and momentum for the September 15th book launch and continue the campaign through next year so that avid fans share the news and fill those movie seats when the movie comes out.

The producers of the movie, Eat Pray Love have partnered to co-promote many tie-in products, yet they might have generated more sales by starting sooner – adopting a similar book/movie build-up.

dearjohnOf course it helps that Sparks has a jaw-dropping track record. Each of his previous books usually has over 2.5 million copies in print. Six have already been made into films. In case you’re interested in the winning formula, Safe Haven is an action thriller and a love story. Some call his formula schmaltzy yet the books sure do sell.

Grand Central Publishing is the publisher and the movie producer is Relativity Media, the firm that’s delivered a string of hits including Mamma Mia! and Evan Almighty.

As Randall Cox, head of Relativity’s digital properties suggests, “The social community has evolved to the point where audiences want to be engaged, not just sold to.”

Here are eight elements of this leveraged partnership that smaller businesses or other organizations could adapt and emulate: More »

Super Way to Attract More People While Spending Less

I was often bored in school except for Mrs. Dodge’s high school English class. She scared me. Not just each week but each day she required us to write an essay. She was my Superman. That daily deadline set me on a lifelong path of loving words and leaning into deadlines.

teacher1For all those great teachers and those lost students who didn’t have a Mrs. Dodge, the upcoming movie Waiting for ‘Superman’ is a provocative call to arms. It follows the lives of five public school students in a lottery, each hoping to be among the lucky ones who get into a good (charter) school.

After seeing the movie, DonorChoose founder, Charles Best was so outraged that he joined forces with the movie producer and the publisher, PublicAffairs, in a smart partnership to get more people motivated to support public school reform.

Why write about a movie in a blog about the power of partnering?waiting-for-superman-image-copy

Because it offers another specific example of how businesses and not-for-profits that serve the same kind of people can come together around a sweet spot of mutual benefit to generate more money, visibility and other support for an advocated action than they could alone.

As I describe this partnership think of the emotional hot point of your work or interest – and your top goal. Then look for other businesses and groups that share that passion in better serving “our” common situation – and how you could join forces to reach and involve more people.

Here is the movie-centered partnership then the four steps you can take to adapt it to your situation.

Offer People Multiple Ways to Participate

Prior to the October release of Waiting for Superman by the social activist film production company Participant Media, partner PublicAffairs produced a companion book. Each book will include a unique code that those who buy it can enter on DonorsChoose.org and have $15 donated to the school or their choice.

Momentum Builds to Join, Once You Have Your First Partners More »

Co-Create S’More Customer-Attracting Events

smores2From Palm Springs to Puerto Rico s’mores were being servedcampfire poolside, at the bar and outdoor fire pits and as self-serve “s’more-gasbords” and for children’s “cooking” demos by hoteliers and and restaurateurs – all in celebration of National S’mores Day on August 10th.

Together they created more buzz for this enticing reason to dine than any one of them could on their own – and so can you.

smoresingredientsAnd they could have generated even more visibility if they’d involved more partners.

As any former Girl Scout like me fondly recalls this snack of roasted marshmallows and melted chocolate, sandwiched between graham crackers was a part of our campfire tradition.

Imagine if the associations of restaurants and of hotels had invited the makers of those ingredients and the Girls Scouts to join in the celebration – plus an inspiring unlikely ally.

Some restaurants, for example, might have offered free s’mores as deserts that day to any group of that chose to dine with them when one of the group could show proof that she was once a Girl Scout.alumnae_logo2

As well, what if next year’s celebration was announced with an insert offer in the packages of the ingredients – good for a free s’more desert at any participating restaurant or hotel?

Another partners’ package insert might include a “How to Hold Your Own S’mores Party.”

Both the offer and the “how-to” guide would also be available on the web sites and described in the social media campaigns of all partners.

Together the partners:

Multiply the number of prospective customers they reach.

Dramatically reduce their promotional costs.

Are more likely to attract media coverage for their “first ever” story.

Besides a fun, interactive event that includes a free offer usually attracts more interest and participation than an advertisement.

Most any consumer-serving business could suggest that its industry association coordinate a day in which all members and other partners join forces around a single kind of customer-attracting experience.

Think of a demonstration by a celebrity expert, ritual, “best of…” contest or a share-and-compare or speed-consulting event that taps a trend.slop

More Elaborate Ways to Profitably Partner

*Dec 14 - 00:05*1. Literally get closer, sharing space.

Hawa Sidibe’s hair salon is inside the Great American Laundromat in the Bronx.

Medical office buildings, filled with all kinds of medical professionals, aren’t new yet increasingly more kinds of complementary  businesses are also becoming bigger customer magnets by being more conveniently co-located for their mutual market of clients.

You can get closer to prospective clients and offer your clients more convenience by clustering with others who serve the same kind of people:

a. Lease space within another office or lease out space within yours to people who serve.

b. Be located adjacent to another outlet(s), perhaps sharing an internal door.

c. Co-rent retail and/or common space with another office or business.

d. Share conference or demo space with others.

2. Sublet space from or to another kind of business that serves some of the same kind of patients/clients to bring more foot traffic and revenue for both:

A bridal shop shares an interior door with a men’s formal wear shop.

great0noc1_t300The Great Outpost now sells outdoor gear at a store that is right next to the Great Smoky Mountains State Park.

A childcare center operates within Google’s main offices

Noah’s Bagels sells Starbucks Coffee.

A food operation leases space within a hospital or motel.

Pizza Hut moves into Days Inn.

FedEx’s leases space at hotels.

Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits outlets are in Kroger markets.

A post office and bank lease space within a supermarket.

An accessories store leases space next to a clothing store, joined by internal doors.

A college leases space to a travel agency.

Buy One to Donate One

Sell more and feel good doing it by “doubling up to do good” like these companies.

lionballIndistructible ball

Imagine inventing a soccer ball so tough that even a lion can play with it for hours and not puncture it. Better yet imagine that kids in refugee camps can kick that “futbol” across sharp rocks, broken glass and even against the razor wire fences that surround them, knowing it will endure.

Best yet, you are donating a ball each time customers buy one. That’s the Double Good that One World Futbol offers.

Energizing ball

In an odd coincidence another soccer ball maker doubles up to do good in a different way. sOccket makesosoccet a ball that generates and retains energy when it is kicked. It creates enough energy for Africans to charge a small electronic device or a LED light. Soon sOccket will be selling it to Westerners as a fun toy, telling customers they are paying for the balls to be given away or sold cheaply via their non-profit partners, the first of which is Whizz Kids United.

uganda_mum_2_sTwo onesies

Buy a cotton baby body suit called a onesie from the Tasmanian company, Baby Theresa, and they donate another to orphanages or poor mothers through non-profits that serve them. They take their motto from Mother Teresa, “If you can’t feed 1,000 people, then feed one.”

Since you can’t walk in their shoes …

When you buy a pair of durable canvas walking shoes from TOMS shoes, they donate another to shoeless kids in South America. Or you can literally take the next step and join a Shoe Drop group to hand-deliver them. You’ll feel even better knowing that South Americans get jobs making those shoes in “no sweatshop” conditions. Because the shoes are mainly sold online more of the profits can go towards donations while customers also get good value.

souls-4-soulsOther footwear makers are following in TOMS steps, doing good by doubling up are Soles4Souls and sturdy CAT footwear. Hint: For visibility, it helps to be the first seller of your kind of product to double up.

Buy a pair. Give a pair.

Get high fashion Fillmore eyeglasses in Tennessee whiskey tortoise (or warbyother kind) from Warby Parker sent to your home, with a free “no questions” return policy, knowing they will donate a pair to someone else who really needs it.

persnickety3Dressed up to do good

Buy a frock and Persnickety Clothing will give another one to a girl in Nicaragua. Akin to TOMS they hire sewers in the same country who earn “above-average” wages.

Like all smart partnerships this approach leverages the benefits for all participants – and you can too.

The business wins:

  1. Donating what it sells is more cost-effective than giving money.
  2. Such donations highlight the quality of their products.
  3. They gain a halo in their market as customers give, media covers the story and word of mouth spreads.

The participating non-profit wins:

  1. As an active partner it can participate in deciding who most needs the donations and when and how they should be given away.
  2. It also attracts media coverage for a “first ever.”

3. Other businesses then want to donate products through them.

4.  More individuals want to donate or otherwise participate in the movement that’s created.

Those in need win:

  1. They get high-quality items because a company not only wants to do good it also wants to show off its great products.
  1. They get items they really need or want because the non-profit that matches them to the donation is very familiar with their situation.

Customers win:

  1. They get to feel good buying something they want knowing their purchase is helping someone who really needs it.
  2. If they want to feel generous they have the extremely convenient option of paying a lower price for a third product to be donated.

Other ways to partner to leverage support of a cause so all participants win:

1. This year up to one million community volunteers get free admission to Disney Parks in Florida and California. They are certified as volunteering for at least a day by Disney’s non-profit partner, the clearinghouse, HandsOn Network.

wash-smart2. To spur more people to donate cast-off clothing and get them clean so they are ready to give away, New York Goodwill partnered with the cleaning products maker Method in an attention-grabbing campaign dubbed “Wash Smart, Give Smart.”

Method staff drove through the streets of New York in a specially-made, glass-walled truck - a “mobile laundry room” to collect clothing from individuals, then wash, dry and deliver it to Goodwill outlets.

3. Through its foundation, Home Depot partners, in three ways, with KaBOOM to build playgrounds:

• Donates money.

• Supports employees in volunteering to construct of the playground

• Uses its expertise to recycle and re-use local materials in those projects, showing community members these skills as they do.

As a company, support your employees in using their expertise in partnership with a cause.

As consumers, buy from such companies, telling them you like what they are doing.

Useable Insights:

1. Attract the right partners to leverage your capacity to serve or to sell more – and to savor greater success together?

2. In this uncertain economy where it behoves all of us to be frugal where are the people that are beyond frugal and in dire need of what you sell?

3. What reputable organization knows those people very well so that they could distribute your product directly to them when you make your own “Buy one. Give one.” offer and join forces for the greater good of all partners?

Ten More Proven Ways to Profitably Partner

gift-card1. Encourage multiple sales with gifts

BENEFIT: Repeat business and client satisfaction.

HOW TO DO IT: Offer a gift with the purchase of a “bundled” collection of your dental services or products. Your gift is provided by your partner. Your clients can receive it by taking the gift card you give them to the partner’s office or outlet. You reciprocate this offer, providing a gift to your partner’s clients who receive it at your place.

2. Co-sponsor an educational event to serve the same market

BENEFIT: Advertising and publicity at reduced cost contribution to your community, stronger appreciation and loyalty from patients, and contact with potential patients.

HOW TO DO IT: Find partners who reach the same market. Share costs for production and marketing of an event that combines the interests of the partners, and the market they want to reach. More »

with Kare Anderson

Partnering can be your greatest multiplier of opportunity. In an uncertain economy we seek fresh ways to increase profits—without increasing overhead. (more...)