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Seduce anyone in four simple steps

You know the health of the global economy is dependent on our ability to seduce one another – don’t you? And you know that we need to be able to do it quickly too, don’t you? Written by Stephen Page, Brand and strategy

Why no campaign succeeds without an insight

 You know the health of the global economy is dependent on our ability to seduce one another – don’t you? And you know that we need to be able to do it quickly too, don’t you?

A recent study by Microsoft shows that our ability to focus, even when turned on to something, has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2016.

Numerous studies on the brain's reward centre, the striatum, show that the instinctive connection between us taking action and the primeval desire for a positive outcome are much closer than previously thought. Archy de Berker and his Canadian colleagues from Element AI in a recent study found it is, in fact, a bit like an on/off switch. When uncertainty reaches 50% our stress peaks. We prefer the certainty of reward and have little tolerance if we do not selfishly detect a positive outcome.

The French know all this for sure – it is all so obvious to them. They’ve adapted. However, we suspect the French are happy to allow the rest of the world to blunder on unaware as they themselves gain competitive edge. With interpersonal skills that ensure their ability to persuade comes second to none our French marketing and communication colleagues have an advantage.

If only we could all persuade in the manner that the French do, then we’d all benefit from a heightened sense of self-worth and commercial gain. 
Let’s be honest, the seduction techniques many organisations employ, including yours perhaps, lack finesse.  How often do you launch a campaign with your fingers crossed not really sure that you’ve found your audience’s sweet spot?

It might alarm you to know it doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t need to commit to risking spending a precious chunk of budget, energy and time only to then worry that the subject of your seduction will quickly turn a cold shoulder, leaving your self-esteem diminished and your career progression to fickle fate. You could be launching a campaign in the certain knowledge that you can rapidly make your target audience swoon and your peers flirt with appreciation.

In her book ‘How the French play the game of life’ Elaine Sciolino, the Paris Bureau Chief for the New York Times, defines the ability to seduce as: to tantalise, use affection, charm on the offensive:

“It is basically making contact with the other person and talking about or sharing what you have in common. Deciding what you have in common and then developing it.”

So, before we reveal the four simple steps that will enable you to seduce your target audience let’s look at the basic ground rules essential for seduction. It’s about making a meaningful connection so we: 
  • Need to discover something meaningful about our audience by actively asking open questions; by being genuinely interested.
  • Surprise them with how considerate we’ve been, having discovered something meaningful and suggest how we might change things for them for the better. How will we add value?
  • Retain a little mystery. The idea that there is more to come will hold their attention. You know the golden rule that the French employ, never reveal all if you want them to continue being your lover. (If you’re in the habit of launching campaigns with every feature and benefit in them I’d suggest you immediately bin them. If you’re also in the habit of being totally naked in front of your lover – stop doing that as well. It’s one and the same thing – a little mystery goes a long way.)  
So, as you can see we’re talking about the importance of insight. You can summarise the three points above as: 
  • Seek findings: we’ve more ears than mouths so listen and acknowledge what you’ve heard. 
  • Develop insights: we’ve all got highly developed bullshit detectors so we know if someone isn’t genuinely considerate of us.
  • Excite and engage: string it out for as long as possible for as much (commercial) gain as possible.
In support of this it is worth taking in to consideration a study from the University College London that shows how being dependent on mobile and screen-based communication is changing our cognition. UCLA professor of psychiatry, Gary Small, studied brain activity in focused web surfers versus the more casual web surfer. The study showed that when Internet surfing, the brain activity of the focused users was far more extensive than that of the casual surfer, particularly in areas of the prefrontal cortex associated with problem-solving and decision making.  

You earn someone’s focus by bringing an insight to their attention and you have to do it quickly.

“From 53,573 page views taken from various users, 17% of the views lasted less than 4 seconds while 4% lasted more than 10 minutes. In regards to page content, users will only read 49% of a site that contains 111 words or fewer while users will opt to read 28% of an average website (approximately 593 words). For each additional 100 words on a site, users will spend 4.4 seconds longer on the site.” 

The faster a relevant insight makes itself apparent the better. Our target audiences do not want to work or spend unnecessary time finding the relevant value for themselves. So, if we don’t have that seductive insight upfront then we probably won’t earn their attention for very long.

Now that we’ve established the ground rules let’s practice our seduction technique. Let’s employ some process that will ensure you’re not risking spending a precious chunk of budget, energy and time when you next endeavour to win sales or increase market share.

Stage one. Discover: 

People are icebergs. The critical bit is invisible, under the water line. Ignore it at your peril unless you plan for your campaign to resemble the intrepid voyage made by the Titanic.  Use open questions and bear Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in mind when unearthing truths about your target audience. Remember we live in an age when people’s need to belong or build their self-esteem is often the key to winning their attention. 

Also remember, just as when someone is seeking a lover sometimes the best intelligence is found by asking around. Perhaps the latent knowledge held by your sales force and other marketing and communication colleagues will not only save your budget but be the most expedient means of capturing those findings. 

In 2018, according to the IPA, marketing and media budgets fell by a net 8.6% compared to previous years. 

Which is why we often deploy ‘Persona based workshops’ on behalf of our clients saving precious budget and making the most of latent knowledge.To minimise risk only move on from this stage when you’re sure, you’re sure of the findings. Flirt a little by testing the findings within the market.

Stage two. Define: 

The best seductions use imagination. What can you do for this persona that they’ve not even imagined for themselves? How can you show you’ve carefully considered them, their challenges and opportunities? Why are you relevant to their future?  

This is the critical bit. No campaign succeeds without an insight. No one falls for a new lover unless they’re pleasantly surprised by their intuition and insight.  

To minimise risk only move on from this stage when you’re sure, you’re sure of the insight. Flirt some more by testing the insight within the market. 

Stage three. Develop:

We all want a dialogue. We want to be acknowledged and valued. A great campaign builds a dialogue. 

We’ve told you before, whatever you do: don’t take all your clothes off at once. A slow strip will keep them coming back for more. A good campaign is singular. You’re trying to win a share of mind with people who have very crowded heads. Aim for one single-net-impression and slowly campaign it repeating over and over the insight that has made you so attractive in the first place. 

To minimise risk only move on from this stage when you’re sure, you’re sure of the ideas. A subtle proposition to a sample of the market to test how receptive they are.  

Stage four. Deliver:

Roses delivered to someone at work as the office opens will raise a smile and improve their day but they’ll have wilted by the time your subject goes home. Roses delivered at lunchtime will cause a stir and curiosity amongst your subject’s colleagues and they’ll still be fairly fresh at home time. Timing and medium are critical. 

So as you can see no campaign succeeds without an insight. If nothing else turns you on you should know the global economy is dependent on our ability to seduce one another. 

If only we could all persuade in the manner that the French do, then we’d all benefit from a heightened sense of self-worth and commercial gain. 

Reference and citation:
Computations of uncertainty mediate acute stress responses in humans
Archy O. de BerkerRobb B. RutledgeChristoph MathysLouise MarshallGemma F. CrossRaymond J. DolanSven Bestmann Nature Communications volume 7, Article number: 10996 (2016)

13th September 2018



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