Psychology, Sales and the SMstudy Guide

Could a beer seller’s story about their purple wisteria saving the day help you?

When the story is an example of using psychology and emotion-driven sales, it can and probably should. London Pride accomplished this with their advertisement featuring a uniquely ancient wisteria plant: “The purple genus has been steadily scaling our brewery walls since 1816. It’s the oldest in England.”  It seems the Brits value their past, their national pride and their wisteria.

“London Pride beer uses emotion-driven marketing … that hooks the reader with a memorable story about something Londoners are familiar with and proud of,” says Kath Pay in Leveraging Psychology in Digital Marketing.

A Guide to the SMstudy® Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMstudy® Guide), makes a similar point: “The most popular blogs choose topics that are of interest to a large community. Successful blogs have something interesting, useful, or creative to share, and do that sharing with an engaging style.”

How does one leverage psychology in his or her marketing efforts? SMstudy® Guide’s book Marketing Strategy explains one of the ways: “Psychographic segmentation is primarily used for consumer markets and involves segmenting buyers along one or more psychological variables including, but not limited to, the following—Attitude, Personality, Values, Fears, Lifestyle, and Life stage (e.g., early childhood, youth, young adult, newly married, married with young children, married with teens, empty nester, elderly and retired).” This type of segmentation begins the process of researching and analyzing a target market’s psychological profile.

“To make the path to conversion clear, you must understand the psychological cues that prompt action, and then consider the entire customer journey, using both implicit and explicit directional cues,” says Pay.

How can you find the cues that prompt consumer actions? The SMstudy® Guide helps here, too, suggesting the use of behavioral segmentation and explaining, “There are five variables that can be used for behavioral segmentation.”

Needs: Users are segmented on the basis of their needs related to a product. Here it is important to understand the users’ category and brand purchasing motives, their value systems and their perceptions in order to draw a composite image of each user and his or her needs.

Consumption Behavior: Purchasers may not be the direct consumers or may not be the only consumers for a variety of products. Therefore, consumption patterns for these products should be considered separately.

Purchase Behavior: Users are segmented on the basis of their purchasing patterns. Some of the patterns are non-user, potential user, first-time user, one-time user (also referred to as “one and done purchasing”), repeat user, former user, product/brand loyalty-based user and early adopter.

Communication Behavior: Users are segmented on the basis of how much they communicate about the product with others before, during and after purchasing. In this respect, opinion leaders are particularly influential as they are knowledgeable about, or are regular users of, particular products; are very vocal about their views regarding such products; and command the attention of other potential customers. In addition to examining how these users communicate, it is also important to understand how they prefer to receive communication. For example, what types of media do they consume?

Consumer Purchasing Roles: Consumers can be categorized based on their roles in the purchasing process. Individuals take on one, several or all of the following roles in the purchasing process: initiator, influencer, decider, buyer and user. When segmenting based on consumer purchasing roles, businesses will often target influencers rather than buyers in an effort to connect with those with the most influence on the purchasing behavior of the group.

Looking at the traits that put consumers in each of these categories provides cues to their motivations and the directions those motivations will lead them.

Using some practical suggestions from can help leverage psychology and make people think that buying from you is a good idea. Cheers.


Out with Innovation, in with Maturation

Apple will be 40-years-old on April 1st. It is no longer the young hip company that many of us still see it as. Technically, it is a middle-aged company, so maybe it is time for some mature decisions when it comes to its products.

Yesterday, Apple released a list of new items that are to be available in the upcoming months. The first is the iPhone SE. “It looks like the iPhone 5S, Apple’s last 4-inch phone released in 2014, but has the same processor and graphics performance as the iPhone 6S. Inside is Apple’s A9 chip, which doubles the speed of the iPhone 5S. It can use Hey Siri, the hands-free voice assistant, has a 12MP camera, and shoots 4K video. There is an NFC chip inside so the phone can work with Apple Pay,” said Apple CEO, Tim Cook.

For a company that was deemed the most innovative company by the Boston Consulting Group in 2015, it seems to be slowing its pace with this new release. But why?

Apple sold over 30 million iPhone 5s last year. There is a demand for a smaller, less expensive phone, so it only makes sense that Apple would market to this audience. But for a company that focuses on innovation, this new release is out of the norm.

The company is well aware of the fact that they aren’t going to lose customers due to this mature, thought-out decision thanks to their brand loyalty. According to Marketing Strategy, book one of the SMstudy® Guide, “This metric (brand loyalty) is reflected by how many customers purchase a brand repeatedly. It indicates the commitment that customers have towards a brand and is the basis of a strong relationship between the brand ad its customers. The underlying metrics for brand loyalty may be the percentage of repeat customers out of total customers, the frequency of repeat purchases, and the degree to which other brands are also purchased along with the brand under consideration.” With a bit more than a billion Apple devices in live use around the world today, the brand loyalty is definitely there.

Since Apple is a 40-year-old company that has made a name for itself in the world of innovation, it is a smart move to put on the innovative breaks when it comes to the iPhone and focus on what the people want. And what they want is a phone that fits well in their hand, has a great camera, and runs quickly. Really, who does use all of those extra features anyway?

This doesn’t mean that Apple won’t be launching the iPhone 7 at their regular release time in September (and it better be amazing … and if it’s not, I will probably still purchase it), it just means that the company thought good and hard about why 30 million people chose the smaller, cheaper iPhone 5 over the more advanced iPhone 6S.

We all have to grow up someday, even Apple. It is enlightening to see the company break free from the Peter Pan Syndrome and make responsible decisions to further their brand and their company. But we all look forward to what it will come up with next. My vote is for holograms, anyone else with me?

For more interesting articles, information and resources visit

OOH, Electronic Billboards

More than six thousand digital billboards light up America’s roadways, yet, we’re still in the dark![1]

We thought that—with the explosion of social media, the long (waning?) reign of broadcast advertising, Internet advertising, and more—billboards, like sandwich boards, were becoming a thing of the past. Yet, according to the association, there are more than 158,000 standard billboards (also known as “bulletins” in the trade) and 165,500 posters (the slightly smaller sized billboard common in urban settings). Then there’s “billboards” on the sides of trucks, 2,700, and wrapped around buses, 205,000. That’s a lot of OOH (Out of Home) advertising!

This exemplifies something that Marketing Strategy, book one in the SMstudy® Guide series, says: “Rather than viewing the changes as completely replacing the earlier practices, Sales and Marketing approaches should be viewed as a continuum where recent innovations can co-exist with earlier practices.”

If you have been following our posts at SMstudy, you may remember that we have addressed the idea that old ways stay and can continue to be profitable even in the midst of great innovation.[2] OOH advertising offers two examples of not only how older approaches can remain relevant but also co-exist in symbiotic relationships.

As the numbers quoted above show, billboard advertising is alive and kicking in today’s innovative age. One cause of this is that “the brevity of OOH’s copy is ideal for driving traffic to a website,” according to OAAA. In cities with the fifty worst commutes, Americans spend from 32 minutes (with 8 percent of this city’s commuters spending more than an hour) to 42.6 minutes (and 25 percent spending more than one hour) one way.[3] That’s a lot of time spent slowly moving with the traffic flow. The vast majority of Americans spend from 30 minutes to an hour driving to and from work. Include the time they spend traveling for other purposes and that’s like having an arena’s worth of people idling past every billboard.

Co-existing can be more than just parallel existence at a distance. For example, “OOH reinforces television messages when viewers are away from their homes during the course of daily activities,” says to OAAA adding, “Television is expensive. OOH improves the efficiency of a television campaign buy by driving down CPM costs. OOH reaches light TV viewers who are younger, mobile, and more affluent than heavy TV viewers.”

OAAA points out that “younger, mobile, and more affluent than heavy TV viewers” also describes Internet users. This becomes an important insight when the marketing team considers its product’s marketing mix. “In a differentiated targeting strategy, a company directs its marketing efforts towards two or more segments by creating a different marketing mix for each segment. Each marketing mix for this strategy typically varies depending on product features, distribution methods, promotion methods, and pricing,” according to Marketing Strategy. As each market segment is targeted, the team develops a mix of “promotion methods.” These methods can include conventional mass media marketing and fragmented new-age marketing (aimed at channels such as Internet, social media, and mobile devices).

The old and the new not only can exist side-by-side but they can flourish. And that’s something to OOH and ah about!

For more interesting and informative articles on sales and marketing, visit

[1] This datum is according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) in their OOH (Out of Home) Formats on the OAAA site at

[2] As in our recent blog, “Pushing the Envelope: The Case for Paper,”

[3] “The 50 Worst Commutes in America.” (1/28/16) MSN; News. Retrieved on 4/12/16 from

Going Native

Native advertising has been around for a patch now. “Pay-to-play” content began appearing in newspapers (and later over the airwave) as early as the 1910s. Native ads, as noted by the SMstudy® Guide, “blend in with their surroundings” and “are promotional pieces attempting to look like the material to which they are adjacent.”

So, native ads, compared to “regular” ads, feel a lot like editorials, but are in fact ads dressed up to look like legitimate editorial content and all that that denotes, in particular, “free of influence.”

For much of their existence, at least from the news/editorial camp, native ads have been the harbinger of the breach in the ever-threatened levy between editorial and advertising. In addition, they were met with a fair degree of criticism for their deceptive nature. Deceptive because, by its core definition, native advertising is “a form of advertising that matches and blends in with the medium it appears on. Ads use the same form as the content contained in the medium,” according to author Vishveshwar Jatain, and when done well, it should cause no “disruption” in the reader or viewers experience and blend in such a way as to “dupe” them.

Criticism of native advertising has lessened over the years and native ads are, in fact, seeing a rebirth in our current digital landscape. This isn’t the first time native advertising has morphed to fit in with new technologies. At every step, it has adapted, whether it be radio, television and now…the Internet. Darwin would be impressed.

But simply adapting to a new environment doesn’t necessarily account for its renaissance. For this, we need to delve into the huge financial hit the news media took when the public caught on to the idea of “free” online news. While for many of us a great boon, free online news has led to a drastic decline in subscribership. Pile on the abundance of virtual advertising space currently available (compared to the finite space of a newspaper) and we begin to understand the severely limping revenue streams news outlets are wading in. This financial pinch (stranglehold) experienced in the news media landscape led to a shocking reduction in funds for 1. paying journalists and 2. paying for resources so journalists could do their jobs. For a peek into the harsh takedown of news media in the mid-2000s, visit paper cuts, a site that tracked layoffs and buyouts at U.S. newspapers between 2007-2012.

At the same time, we saw the rise of content marketing (related to the decline of news outlet’s ability to provide quality content? Perhaps a topic for another blog). Based on current research and data, we, the people, are overwhelmingly fond of content marketing, but only if it provides relevant, valuable information. We’re fond even when we know it’s an ad!

And even though the concept of deception and the potential breach of the great wall dividing adverts and editorial is still a thorn in the side of ethically-fierce news folk,  native advertising is back in action and is a natural ally of content marketing.

Whatever the reservations of some legacy news outlets to native adverts, some sites don’t suffer the same ethical hemming and hawing. In fact, some have found very innovative ways to pro-actively manage the content marketing that appears on their sites.

Forbes, under the leadership of Lewis Dvorkin, has created a department called BrandVoice (originally AdVoice) to focus on the content needs of its advertisers. Headed by Forbes Media chief revenue officer, Meredith Levien, BrandVoice is a division of Forbes completely separate from the editorial staff. BrandVoice has hired editors, reporters, designers, and so on in order to offer high-quality content to its advertisers. And business is booming. In fact, Levien sites BrandVoice as the main factor for the company’s high revenue in 2012, a five-year best.

Other outlets who have embraced native advertising are Buzzfeed and The Onion, the 34-year-old satirical news outlet. Onion Labs, a division of Onion Inc., offers its top-notch writers to advertisers for content development with the added bonus of extreme hilarity.

From the Onion Labs web page:

“Onion, Inc. has perfected influencing some of the hardest to reach audiences in the world, through intelligent, insightful and often hilarious content.

Through our content services division, Onion Labs, we offer that influence to brands. We’ve combined the greatest comedy and pop culture writers in the world with some of the most decorated advertising minds in the business.

Onion Labs works with each client to understand the brand’s strategic goals, then builds custom content solutions that are distributed through both Onion, Inc. and client channels.”

And as the good word spreads (a recent Pew Research report notes a major uptick in investment, in 2012, ads rose 38.9%, to $1.56 billion following a 56.1% increase in 2011), other outlets are testing the waters as well, including Hearst, Time and Conde Nast.

So, all signs point to content marketing channeled through native advertising as a direction worthy of investigation, at least from a marketing standpoint…however, maybe not the sort of investigation diehard journos would like to see.

For more on sales and marketing, visit


“Native Advertising Shows Great Potential, But Blurs Editorial Lines,” Mediashift, Terry Thornton. April 2, 2013.

Onion Labs,

Native Advertising Summit: Beyond Church and State

The Ultimate Guide to Native Advertising, Joe Pulizzi, Jan. 7, 2014.

“Native Advertising is Not Content Marketing,” Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute, Aug. 25, 2015.

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, The State of the News Media 2013: An Annual Report on American Journalism.

“Native Advertising: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know,” Vishveshwar Jatain, Go Native or Go Home, Aug. 7, 2015.

The Search for Social Media Insights

It may be time to recognize that data collected from social media will not so easily reveal its immediate impact on a company’s sales (as we’ve said before, it’s proven to be a bit slippery). But this doesn’t mean the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater. In finding ways to prove its value, social media marketers are changing the conversation away from a cause/effect relationship between a company’s marketing and its ROI to a deeper understanding of social data’s value. And as it turns out what it offers is way more valuable- the unprecedented parse-able social insights of a population.

In a recent post, we explained that the number one problem facing social media marketers today is tying social data to an increase in the bottom line (or the sales of a product or service). The challenge of “proof,” in turn, was making it harder to make a case for additional investment in social media marketing.

We said, “Demonstrating the value of the social programs within the company was, in fact, the top challenge noted (60%) by survey participants consisting of 600 media marketing professionals.”

The State of Social Marketing 2015 report by Simply Measured states, “Companies of all sizes and maturity levels are struggling to prove the value of their social programs. Social media activities can be difficult to quantify, and marketers are trapped between readily available “vanity metrics,” such as Likes and followers, and difficult-to-measure objectives such as brand awareness.”

We went on to suggest that unless there’s a collapse of the capitalist system, better tools will surely arise to address the challenge. But we also noted, of equal, if not greater importance, would be the ongoing discovery of more creative and accurate ways to query the data.

As marketers hone in on methods to extract the gold nuggets of consumer intel out of the mountain of information, they’re hitting upon the true capital of social media- the most comprehensive picture of consumer behavior, sentiment and decision-making process they’ve ever been blessed to lay hands on. This might not be the smoking gun that ties directly to a sale, but, in fact, presents many more gifts in the long run as John Donnelly III, SVP of global sales and marketing at Crimson Hexagon, points out.

“One of the most effective ways to glean consumer insights is by analyzing social media conversation… sales teams are realizing that social media is rife with information about what their prospects care about, how they consume media and what motivates their decision-making,” said Donnelly.

Based on Donnelly’s presentation and other insights, here are some ideas to consider when taking the dive into social data.

Get granular. Almost any question a marketer has regarding brand perception, market competition and the general sentiment of people discussing a product or brand can be found through social media analytics, so ask away.

Getting granular also let’s marketers zero in on microsegments of the population that either are or can be Word-of-Mouth advocates for a brand or product.

Word of Mouth is the golden standard for all marketers. The ability to target Word-of-Mouth advocates on social media can be the difference between success and failure. Writing for convice&convert, Devon Wijesinghe discusses the importance of Word of Mouth and how it can be used.

“This rich source of information comes in handy when you’re looking to generate Word of Mouth about your brand. Tapping into the “right” market segments—segments whose interests and values are aligned with your brand—can be the catalyst your campaign needs,” Wijesinghe said.

Layer trending topics on top of a hyper-targeted market segment (both bits of information available through social media data analysis) and a marketer has made a happy marketing marriage.

Focus groups may be passe according to some, but testing is still very much a part of the marketing strategy. From a product standpoint, social media insights can reflect the strengths and weaknesses of a product’s lifecycle as well as the effectiveness of current marketing efforts. Filling the role of the modern-day focus group, social media insights are also valuable for taking the temperature of the public on an idea such as a logo or slogan, a product or service. Testing the social media world’s tastes and perceptions allows for adjustment before launching, saving money and perhaps even preventing a catastrophic mistake.

Social media data is virtually limitless (pun optional) and social media marketers are stepping up and learning how to use it best. We expect to be reading many more social media data “hacks” in the future. Stay tuned.

Visit for additional articles on sales and marketing.


“How to Sell Smarter Using Social Insights,” Devon Wijesinghem

“Supercharge Your Selling Strategy: The Power of Social Data,” John Donnelly,

The State of Social Marketing- 2015, Simply Measured,

Great Teachers Deserve the VMEdu Authorized Content Partner Program

Great teachers are rare. Great teachers should be prized for what they give to the world. A great teacher should not have to slog it out alone, wasting precious time taking care of the tedious work that must be completed in order get thier courses recognized and propeled to success. This is where the VMEdu Authorized Content Partner (V.A.C.P.) program can come in handy. The V.A.C.P. program offers to take on the heavy lifting of course preparation, presentation and management, leaving great teachers with time to do what they do best…teach!

The VMEdu Authorized Content Partner program provides real advantages for teachers who are ready to get the word out about their courses!

The V.A.C.P. program lets teachers create and upload courses through an easy-to-use cloud interface called the VMEdu Course Builder. Everything related to your course, including videos, test questions, case studies, flashcards study guides and more can be included. And have no fear, the VMEdu technical team is always available to assist with course creation or any other technical assistance. There is no cost for creating or uploading your courses, and zero licensing fees.

The creation of a mobile app is another perk of the V.A.C.P. program. VMEdu can create a mobile app to support your courses with both your company name and logo. This app can be used by students to experience all available  courses as well as provide students with flexibility they need in their learning experience. Apps can be downloaded from the Google Play Store (for Android App) or Apple App Store (for IOS App).

In addition, VMEdu has a global partner network of more than 750 Authorized Training Partners (V.A.T.P.s), and if so inclined, teachers can sell courses to the VMEdu A.T.P. partner network. Prices are set by the teacher and VMEdu assists in reaching out to its large network of corporates, colleges/universities, training companies and individual trainers. This helps increase reach and at the same time garners additional customers and revenues. More specifically, if a course relates to sales and marketing, teachers may consider selling their courses through, the global accreditation body for sales and marketing certifications.

VMEdu understands that managing classes can take up a ton of valuable time, so they’ve created an easy-to-use portal where teachers can manage course-related activities such as student access, course financials and course reporting.

With all the benefits of partnering with VMEdu, teachers now have an option that makes sense. The V.A.C.P. program is the accommodating, helpful, time-saving platform that teachers need, so they can focus on the important work of teaching.

For more detailed information of the VMEdu Authorized Content Partner program, visit

Targeted Advertising using Facebook

Sales and Marketing has evolved significantly over time going from the Barter System of 1000 years ago to Traditional Marketplaces, Seller’s Marketplaces, Conventional Mass-media Marketing, Fragmented New-age Marketing to today where Internet enabled business models have helped marketing evolved further.

In the past through our blogs, we’ve touched upon this evolution. In this blog, we will focus on the internet enabled modes of marketing specifically Facebook Marketing. With most customers now continuously spending their time online, businesses globally have understood the value of targeting them through the online mode. While the traditional methods of targeting i.e. TV, Radio, Newspapers etc. help is reaching to a larger audience fast, they are ineffective in terms of targeting a specific segment of the audience.

If a business wants to target a specific audience segment, you need to create a customer persona and then set-up filters to target and find the relevant audience. To target relevant audiences, Facebook helps you segment your audiences using these filters:

  • Location: Reach customers by City, Country, even Postcode
  • Demographics: Target people based on demographics like age, gender, relationship status, education, workplace and more
  • Interests: Define your ideal audience by their interests, hobbies and Pages they like on Facebook. This may be based on their listed interests, activities, education, job titles, Pages they like or groups to which they belong.
  • Behaviours: Reach people based on their purchasing behaviour, device usage and other activities

Besides these regular segments, Facebook has two advanced filters known as Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences.

Custom Audiences: Custom Audiences let you reach customers you already know with ads on Facebook. If you have a customer list or data from your site, such as purchaser email addresses, you can upload a list of email addresses or phone numbers of at least 100 people to get started. You can also build audiences from the people that visit your website or from people who use your mobile app. You can create a maximum of 10,000 Custom Audiences for those from your website or mobile app.

Lookalike Audiences: Lookalike Audiences helps you create new audiences based on traits from one of the following sources:

  • Custom Audiences: Upload a list of your existing customers using Custom Audiences. Then use Lookalike Audiences to find people who resemble that audience.
  • Website visitors: Install a Facebook Pixel on your site. Then create Lookalike Audiences based on people who’ve visited specific pages on your website.
  • Page fans: Use Lookalike Audiences to create an audience based on people who like your Page.