Why Selfishness Is the Key to Successful Marketing


Philosophers [must] become kings … or those now called kings [must] … genuinely and adequately philosophize.” —Plato

Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS Institute, remarked about Plato’s quote in The Marketer as Philosopher — “One might substitute the term ‘marketer’ for the term ‘king.'”

In order to best communicate as marketers, we need to sometimes slow down and ask “why” we are doing the “what.” This includes considering the reasons for the various elements of brand collateral, images, calls-to-action and testimonials we insert onto our pages.

I recently came across a test that highlighted for me some of these challenges that marketers often face when balancing the “why” and the “what.”

That’s why in this post I want to show how we can use the MECLABS Conversion Heuristic to really drill down on these specific elements while giving you a process in which you can apply a methodology to creating and optimizing all of your marketing collateral.


MECLABS Conversion Heuristic


This heuristic is just that — a heuristic. This means it is simply a mental shorthand used to convey an idea or approach. This is not a mathematical equation and you cannot solve it. However, it does work similarly to an equation in the idea that the coefficient preceding the letters indicates that value’s level of importance.

Therefore, motivation, with a coefficient of four, is more important in the conversion than anxiety, which only has a coefficient of two.

With that being said, let’s start by evaluating the customer’s motivation on a page and how each element can cater to that motivation.


4M (Motivation)

Whenever a customer clicks and changes pages there is a brief moment of confusion. The customer knows what they are looking for — the question is, are they where they want to be?

This is where we must be sure every “what” on the page that supports the “why” of the customer is here.

The visitor to this page is most likely looking for more information about the product. For instance, they may be comparing this product’s benefits to a competitor’s product, or searching for finer points such as functionality, compatibility or implementation.

Things like a proper layout, eye path and bulleted lists are especially important when considering your customer’s motivation. A customer’s level of motivation determines how much effort they will put forth on your page to accomplish an objective. The less motivated a user is, the more likely they are to bounce off the page.


3V (Clarity of Value)

The customer has landed on the page and determined that this is, in fact, what they were looking for.

Now the question is, how clear is your offering?

Clarity of value and motivation go hand-in-hand. The more motivated visitor will push through less clear messaging, while someone with little motivation will terminate the conversation as soon as something does not make sense. 


2(i-f) (Incentive subtracted by friction)

Have you ever signed up for one of those “free” giveaways only to be taken to a “quick survey” to claim your prize, then to another survey, then another page, until you finally give up?

I think we all know better now, but a few years ago probably everyone fell victim to that rabbit hole of friction at least once. This is a perfect example of an incentive being offered that you may want, but the friction present in the process subtracts from the desire to obtain the incentive.

“In physics, friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces. In marketing, friction is the psychological force resisting the forward motion of the prospect,” Flint McGlaughlin has said.

This idea manifests any time we offer anything from a free product tour, or the main offer itself. I may want what you are offering but how hard is it to get?

One example of an incentive is something like a “free product tour,” which may be enticing depending on how motivated the customers are to learn more about the product and watch the demo.

I think we can all agree that clicking on the “free product tour” button is not terribly hard to accomplish. However, if I am not sure that I want the incentive, how difficult is it for me to decide?

Forcing a customer to slow down and process information can be especially hurtful to conversions.

Flint has said, “The forces of the product and prospect value propositions are intensified by velocity. The probability of a conversion increases with increasing velocity.”

This idea of maintaining velocity in the sales funnel is vital and should be a constant “gut check” in our minds.


-2a (anxiety)

“Anxiety is lethal to the micro-yes process. Yet, it is difficult to detect and, worse, much ‘heavier’ than marketers realize. Anxiety is the emotional cost of risk, and often this cost outweighs the rational expectation of the marketer,” Flint has said.

Everything you ask your customer to do has a certain level of anxiety associated with it, whether you are asking for a simple click to the next page, a product tour or an email address.

There are many ways to battle anxiety, including customer testimonials and security seals. The key is how easily they are processed and how close they physically appear to the CTA on the page.


In summary …

When we are building various marketing collateral we must always be asking if the “what” is supporting the “why.”

In order to do this we can use the Conversion Heuristic to analyze individual elements or entire treatments.

  • Motivation: Are you offering what the prospect is looking for at this exact stage in the process?
  • Clarity of Value: How clear is your messaging? How long does it take someone to understand the main points?
  • Incentive: Are there any additional benefits associated with completing the desired task for your customer? This doesn’t always have to be something tangible or free. It can also be something as simple as a promise for more information. Just be sure to deliver.
  • Anxiety: Every click you ask your customer for has a level of irrational anxiety associated with it. Are your CTAs clear? Does the customer know where this click will take them with certainty? If you ask for personal information, tell the customer what you intend to do with it.

I will leave with a quote from the German philosopher Hegel: “Passions, private aims, and the satisfaction of selfish desires, are … the most effective springs of action.”

Make sure your webpage, PPC ad, email or promotional flyer matches the “private aims” and the motivation of your customers to “spring” them into action.


You might also like

Customer Anxiety: One element of the MECLABS Conversion Heuristic explained [More from the MarketingExperiments blog]

MECLABS Methodology [from MarketingExperiments’ parent company, MECLABS]

Web Optimization: How one company implements an entire testing strategy every day [From MarketingSherpa]

Internet Marketing: Optimizing form fields to maximize conversions [More from the MarketingExperiments blog]


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