Kevin Hogan

International Speaker

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Marketers wonder how to keep up…

Sensually charged images have never been more valuable on a pixel for pixel marketing dollar. Over the next few weeks you’ll see how sensuality in marketing is evolving rapidly especially by women. But there are other impulses that work in a very similar fashion to the effect that beauty has on people.

We’ve put this four part series of articles on “sex in selling and marketing” for you but want to really focus on several evolving trends in what works and what doesn’t in 2019.

The “FREE” Impulse – Does It “Work” Anymore?

It really is humorous. I watch someone launch a product and they have all these “FREE GIFTS”, which I think is such a kick. I rarely remember Santa Claus leaving a bill and receipt….

Free Gifts Should Be FreeTheir lack of understanding the paradox is what sinks many online businesses. A gift is a gift, and something free is a promotional item. They are very different things.

I’ll get back to more “sex” shortly or in part two. This triggers another thought…

When I launched my book The 168 Hour Week, I spent an inordinate amount of time making it one of the most important books on productivity  and personal excellence ever written.

Now, everyone knows that with these launches we’ve been doing for almost 15 years, come all these “freebies”…don’t ya’ love that word “freebie…” …yeah… which are nothing but fronts for a big high pressure sales job on the “back end” of the freebie.

In English: You get an e-book, but before you get it you are offered some $4,000 product. Then, if you don’t buy the $4,000 product, you have to go search the next page (which is known as a down sell page) for the download.

Maybe I’m just contrary to everything in life. Stuff like that bugs me. I ask my sponsors of the promotion to offer the best they have to give you as a gift…not as a “free” gift. Not as a “bonus.” (Ya’ need a bonus to buy an $18 book?)

And of course, all those free gifts in other promotions come in an “email blast.”

Ouch! Please don’t put me in the way of anything that blasts…just go blast your readers, I mean…list. (I’ll come to it later.)


When you give a potential customer a “gift”, you don’t expect a gift back. You do hope to earn their trust… and ultimately their business.

The “Law of Reciprocity” states that, “when you give people something of perceived value, they feel compelled to give you something in return.”

It’s the reason there’s a prize in the McDonald’s “Happy Meal”, why trade show vendors have “premiums”, and the thinking behind advertising agencies taking prospective clients to dinner. In each instance, the hope is that the gift will result in more business.

It should.

When you offer “free something”, or “something gifts”, make it clear that you have no expectations of anything in return, because qualifying words with “free” or “gift” ruin the effect.

For example, “If you’re thinking about installing an in-ground pool, I’d like to send you my free report, Pool Installation Made Easy. Whether you buy your pool from me or not, this guide will make the process much, much easier.”

An offer like this says, “I’m a good guy. I want to stand out from the crowd of people you can do business with and offer you something of value…so I’m taking the chance on you and not vice versa.”

That will make it more likely that someone will wish to reciprocate your kindness by giving you their business.

Legend Point: It’s also important that the gift be given “free and clear.” “Buy something and get a free gift” is much less appealing than “get a free gift with no cost or obligation”. There’s nothing wrong with buy one, get one. In fact, that is a very effective, smart AND appreciated offer.

Your reciprocal relationship, like any relationship, is a two-way street, and you’ll never get better than you give. It’s important that the gift you offer has real value and is something that will deliver a significant genuine benefit.

All that said, contextual relevance is extremely important. Offering a box of Godiva chocolates when a customer purchases the South Beach Diet book is not contextually helpful, even though it has definite perceived value.

By the way, a gift can be more than a “thing.”

Legend Point: Even a warm, friendly comment of gratitude will activate the desire to reciprocate on the customer’s part.

Friendliness & Gratitude Activate Desire

A New York university conducted an experiment in a medium-sized electronics store. A subject entering the store was told in a warm and friendly manner:

“Thank you for shopping here today. We appreciate having you as our customer.” As a control, the next shopper entering the store was not told anything.

AMAZING FACT: The average amount of money spent by subjects who received the appreciatory comment was $408.03; the average amount spent by the 100 subjects who were not told anything was $240.54.

That is one of the most profound pieces of research I’ve ever seen. “We appreciate having you as our customer.”

Increases business by 60%.


Nothing increases business by 60%.

Appreciation does.

I gotta tell ya’ that’s as cool as it gets, because everyone NEEDS customers but most people absolutely don’t appreciate their customers. They are numbers.

And appreciation…it didn’t cost a penny to say thank you!

No extra bonus. No added value to be seen…but felt. That’s the best free trigger that there is. But of course there is more…much more…check it out…it’s free…and we DO appreciate your sticking around and reading more…

Trigger: Imbue them with Good Feelings

“I appreciate you.”

Sounds so…wimpy.

Uh huh…

I like to feel good. So I do things that make me feel that way — from brushing my teeth with a toothpaste that I like, to wearing clothes I feel comfortable in.

I also try to avoid most of the things that make me feel bad.

Legend Point: We like to feel good and follow pathways that get us to a place where that need is satisfied.

If It Feels Good, Buy it NOW

The quest for “feeling good” is what makes us tick.

We buy a vast range of products, hoping they’ll improve the quality of our lives by helping us to feel better about ourselves, or by making some tasks easier.

Wendy Liebmann, president of the consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, told U.S. News and World Report. “For consumers, when it comes to buying luxury goods, special services, or even expand-your-horizons experiences, ‘don’t put off till tomorrow’ has become more than a homespun aphorism; it’s become a way of life.”

If we humans are oriented to feeling good, then that’s what you should be selling — products and services that help them avoid pain and enjoy pleasure.

As the saying goes: Give the people what they want! Victoria’s Secret did and they seem to have done OK…

Trigger: Instant Gratification

In a lightning-fast world with everything happening at faster than light speed, consumers expect instant gratification in everything they do.

Blame it on technology, or the Internet, or even MTV.

Blame it on 60-second and 6 second sound bites, instant drink mixes, scratch-and-win lottery tickets, and microwave ovens.

Blame it on whatever you wish, but there’s one thing that’s clear:

Legend Point: People are much more likely to BUY NOW if you can deliver instant gratification.

When the Consumer Says: “I Have An Emergency!”

There’s nothing like an urgent situation or pressing emergency to crank up the need for instant gratification. A teenager with a blemish on the night of the school prom can’t wait for a 7-day cure. A guy who wants to watch a pay-per-view boxing match can’t wait for a week for cable installation.

Make sense?

When does DirectTV have it’s most installs? Yep. OPENING DAY FOOTBALL…!

And which Yellow Pages ad do you think will appeal to a homeowner who has just lost his roof in a hurricane???

“Brand X Roof Repair – We Repair Roofs Call 555-1212 for estimate…


…Brand Y Roof Repair is waiting for you at 555-1212 Instant service for emergency roofing needs.”

Many companies would think that the Brand X ad is just fine.

It gives the name of the company, contact information, and explains what the company does. But, nothing in it says, “We understand your need and we can fulfill it.”

The Y ad, on the other, is all about the consumer.

In the following example, instant gratification comes from the consumer’s ability to download a product from the Internet and get relief from a problem without having to wait.

When the Consumer Says: “I Have No Patience”

People will buy a product that can be delivered instantly over a product that will take time to deliver. This is why downloadable eBooks and downloadable music are such a hit. Click a button, enter your credit card number and in a matter of seconds, you’ve got what you ordered. There’s no worry and no waiting.

Credit cards really make pushing the instant gratification button much easier by allowing our needs to be attained instantly, even before we have the money to pay for it. Remember this term? “Layaway.”

It was said like one word. (It might have been one word.) If you are under 25 or 30, the word no longer exists in our vocabulary….well…it will again…soon…but not now…

Back in the ancient days (about 20 years ago), you didn’t buy stuff on credit. You had the merchant “lay it away” …put it in the back of the store for you to pick up when you had the money. I remember Mom going in and doing this and then maybe 9 months later picking the item (a shirt, for example) up.

Instant gratification is an evolutionary NEED; and it is no wonder that our culture figured out how to make it all happen instantly.

Kevin Hogan 168 Hour WeekHey, if this article contained 5 ideas you can go back and tick off and use, get your copy of the book!


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Author of The Psychology of Persuasion, Irresistible Attraction, and The Science of Influence, Dr. Kevin Hogan is trusted by organizations, both large and small, to help them help their people reach their personal peak performance and maximize influence in selling and marketing. Kevin is an internationally admired keynote speaker and corporate thought leader. In Coffee with Kevin Hogan, he shares his research, observations, and how you can apply them in your life – both in business and at home.

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