Dissecting a Con Man’s Scheme

I received the message below on LinkedIn this afternoon.

Did you know that “con” is short for “confidence”? The objective of the con man is to establish trust– an emergency on their end that will appeal to our opportunistic greed.

Remember “Crazy Eddie’s” electronics from 20 years ago? He was on TV acting “crazy”, smashing TVs with sledgehammers while yelling, to establish insanity. If you believed him to be nuts, then you’d believe him to mark down prices below cost in a momentary lapse of judgment.

The psychology is fascinating. It can be applied to legitimate marketing. Some elements of “trust” in the scam are below:

“… to hear your voice as to be sure I’m dealing with a real person, not online scammers”. Well, of course, I am not an online scammer, you say. How dare you accuse me! I will email your throwaway email right away so that I can send you 5% of the $7.2 million dollars, straight to Nigeria.

Spelling errors. That’s an instant loss of trust. Odds are that your website is suffering from this, too. We caught a simple grammatical error on our site just yesterday. They’re in your marketing materials, proposals, and website. If you don’t think you have any, ping me. Identify these and kill them.

Trust marks. If this came from a friend or if the person sending the message was from a reputable organization, I’d be more apt to consider it. How many connections do you have on LinkedIn? How strong are your business’ reviews and recommendations? Are these displayed prominently on your homepage (above the fold) and in your customer-facing documents? Odds are your landing pages are losing half of the potential conversions because you lack these.

Specificity. Instead of saying $7.2 million, say $7,294,945.15. More believable. Do your marketing materials make vague claims about how your products are somehow just “better” without any quantification? Go to looksmart.com, a once high-flying internet company, and see them trumpet “Expect quality. Demand results” on every page. Sounds almost like Target’s “Expect more. Pay less”.

Back it up in spades. Looksmart’s user interface doesn’t jive with its tagline. Nor can they pretend to be the leading search engine in 2013 with a straight face. What are specific, provable items you can reference that back up your claim to excellence? With us, it’s our expert citations in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, NPR, and other sources.

Have them initiate. The power of inbound marketing is when you get them to come to you first. Then you’re the expert authority, as opposed to the cold-calling salesperson we all run from. Info on your services is a click away, so you better be delivering consultative advice versus a hard sell. The role of outbound sales for all but the most narrow markets is dead. Publishing your expertise openly in top forums, conferences, and your blog is in.

If you’re still reading this, then let me thank you and mention that it means you are always striving to be a better marketer. You want the latest techniques to generate more sales for your business, despite how busy your schedule is. Do you have tips to share with the community here? Are there items you’d like me to cover? Let me know below!

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