Monday, July 16, 2012

HOW SEXY IS YOUR SALES MESSAGE…it makes a difference!

I discovered a long time ago that the most effective way to create a powerful Selling Proposition (sales message) is to break it down into separate communication elements and work on them individually. They include components such as Names, Generic Descriptors, Benefits, Attributes, Key Graphics and so on. I have come to learn that this area of study is not unlike that of quantum physics. Particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider at Cern Switzerland crash atomic particles into each other at near light speed allowing scientists to evaluate the debris. Our Connectics® process does pretty much the same thing without the crashing. We deconstruct the sales message into its basic components, and we work creatively at that level.

Working with the meaning that consumers assign to the individual communication elements has been the access to creating many new solutions for our clients. This is a world I have been exploring for at least eight years now. The rest of the marketing world continues to develop multiple complete concepts. Having done so they evaluate and modify each of them until they can agree on one to move forward with. That process now seems outdated to me. A side benefit of working with a deconstructed Selling Proposition is that I often find previously unknown factors, much like the Hadron scientists, that influence the buying decision. I will share one here.

Over the last two years I have come to suspect that gender may play a role in driving consumers to purchase particularly on products and services that seem to have no sexual overtone. I am now convinced that gender in fact always plays an active role in motivating purchase intent. I will share it here.

Let’s pretend for a moment that all products and services have a gender. Scan slowly, left to right, across the images below looking for the gender in each. It’s easy to see how the role of gender plays out on the Trojan condom package and the Playtex tampon package but what do you see on the Splenda and Tide packages? If gender plays a part in the two on the left, is it possible, in fact probable, that it also plays a role on the two on the right? If so, are marketers unaware of the role that gender plays on products thought to have no gender? I now have what I am reasonably sure is the answer to these questions. My experience is that gender does play an active role in motivating purchase intent irrespective of the nature of the product. 

I cannot share the exact experiences due to having signed non-disclosure agreements with my clients, but I have recently witnessed the following on enough projects (16) to conclude it is a valid marketing insight.

Below is the result of two exercises that I have been running with consistent results across multiple categories. Let’s say we are working with four different graphic presentations of a Selling Proposition, A, B, C & D. This could be a website home page, a billboard ad, a package, a storefront, a print ad etc. The first exercise determines which of the four is the strongest at communicating performance. Let’s say graphic A won. The second exercise determines where each layout falls along the gender scale you see below.

The highest performing Image always falls to the right of the 1 on the Masculine side of the scale. Others will typically be too feminine or too masculine. Mostly, they will be too feminine.

The learning here is, when you are not sure, keep your message and your image slightly masculine. I know you may not have the tools that I have that allow me to read each Selling Proposition, but you can use your best judgment. You can mock up each option and conduct your own research with friends. Simply show two at a time and ask which is the most masculine. You will be surprised by how consistent the responses will be. Read the results and choose the one you feel is somewhat masculine. By the way, almost all of the work I have done to date is with female consumers. They, as you are likely aware, make most of the purchase decisions and this is where this insight is most useful.

If you are marketing to males, this insight is an obvious one. In all of my experience, females are simply more secure in their sexuality than are males. Sorry boys, that is just the way it is.

Good luck!


Keith Chambers

Keynote Marketing Speaker
Creative Marketing Consultant
(310) 473-0010

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