For Marketers

The Winning Edge

Your pulse races and your hands are fastened onto your ticket as she comes flying into the homestretch. You whisper a prayer as you watch her cross the finish line. You listen anxiously to the announcement. It’s a photo finish, too close to call. She almost won the race. She lost by a nose. Disappointed and frustrated, you rip up your ticket.

The first-place horse won 10 times the prize money than the second-place horse did. That’s just how the purse gets divided. Have you ever considered why this is? Was the winner 10 times better than the second-place horse? Hardly, she only won by a nose. What makes the winner a winner is a concept called “the winning edge.”

Today I read an excellent article by Allen Weiss of MarketingProfs.com. Titled “Why Marketing Is Soft, but Hard,” it reminded me of that concept’s importance. I was introduced to the concept when I was first learning about sales and marketing. One of my early mentors drilled it into me that “everything you do either enhances or detracts from your ability to close the sale. No detail, however minute, is neutral.” I was intrigued by that concept, and he recommended that I listen to an audiocassette by Brian Tracy titled “The Psychology of Selling: The Art of Closing the Sale.” It’s Tracy who drilled that horseracing image indelibly into my mind.

“That’s real nice, Bryan,” I imagine you saying. “Just tell me, what does all that have to do with converting website traffic?” Gosh, I was hoping you’d ask me that question.

EVERYTHING! The winning edge is what will determine whether your website is a winner or a loser, whether it engages your traffic or fails to, whether it persuades your traffic to take the action you want (converts) or doesn’t.

I’ve written dozens of articles for this column. I get lots of positive feedback, for which I’m extremely grateful. However, sometimes I sit and wonder why I don’t get hundreds of emails a week about how you’ve applied the principles in this column to increase your conversion rates, not just by a little but by multiples. Am I nuts? No. The principles I write about are the ones we use everyday at Future Now to help clients increase their conversion rates dramatically. I’m not holding anything back. There are no secrets. Please do ignore the man behind the curtain: Increasing conversion rates isn’t wizardry. It’s done by applying tested and proven principles and processes that we have developed by studying — across many disciplines and for many years — why people act the way they do.

Allen Weiss explains in his article:

It’s hard to really understand simple ideas. In fact, it’s often harder than remembering complicated ideas. With complicated ideas, like those in mathematics, software coding, and finance, we tend to really “get it” because we spend so much time trying to understand the ideas.

With simpler ideas, we tend to spend little energy (often because we perceive it warrants little energy) and often make the mistake [that] we understand something simply because it’s simple.

In a lot of ways, marketing is simple. For example, the basic ideas behind branding are actually very few. Still, people like to see these same ideas presented in thousands of different ways. People want thousands of different examples that expose the same basic idea — isn’t this a waste of time and money?

The reason for this seemingly strange inefficiency is that marketing is based on tacit know-how. Tacit know-how is difficult to write down and can only be learned by doing. Learning to play an instrument is based on tacit know-how, as is learning to cook and virtually every other practice that requires reading/learning and then doing (many, many times) before you really understand it.

Future Now has done the hard work already. We are constantly researching and testing concepts and techniques that produce exceptional results. You don’t have to read about consumer psychology, social anthropology, usability, chaos theory, physiology, color theory, perception, sales, marketing, information architecture, and all the various other materials that we read. Although I encourage you to read as much as you can, this column distills those materials for you.

I want you to develop the winning edge. All the information you need is out there. That doesn’t mean that you may not occasionally need some help, and, if you’d like us to, we’re happy to provide it. What I mean is that if you have the burning desire to win, then it’s up to you to gain that winning edge by constantly improving your website’s conversion rate. Remember that no detail is too small; everything on your website either adds or detracts from its ability to convert your traffic. And remember, too, that the one in second place is the first loser.

How badly do you really want to win?

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