Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Designed just for you

The thought of a website designed just for you is instantly pleasing.  It would have your "style," answer all your questions, and help you make a good decision without being pushy.  The problem for most companies is that they don't have the resources, design teams, developers, and copywriters to create mass customization.

If you can easily identify a few particular characters that your business does great work with, you can center your landing pages and website around those personas.  But if you have a large client base that is seemingly neither specific nor distinct, how do you appeal to everyone without sounding overly broad or rambling?

Use a circus trick.

The Barnum Effect, named for P.T. Barnum of circus fame, is the observation that people will perceive rather general information to be very specifically crafted for them if...
  • They believe it was customized for them.
  • They believe the source is trustworthy.
  • The information is mainly positive.
Fortune tellers, astrologists and circus acts use this very trick.  Read a friend's horoscope for them, but give them the horoscope for the wrong sign without telling them what you have done.  You may be surprised how insightful they find the horoscope.  

This is because horoscopes are rather general.  They can be almost universally applied.  The magic is that we believe horoscopes are customized for us.  Assuming you believe in horoscopes, the source of information is trustworthy, and the information is almost always positive or has a silver lining.

Whether your business is B2B or B2C, you can use "customized" messaging to capture the attention of your audience.  They'll feel delighted that someone finally understands their situation and it will be hard for them to view any other company as being so insightful.