The Stanley Milgram shock study is an age-old experiment that demonstrates our habitual response to authority. We, by instinct, obey authority even if the orders from that authority appear unethical.
Online readers are a surly bunch. Mean, lazy, and stupid. I mean that in the best possible way, mind you. And, naturally, I lump myself in to that group.
See, when it comes to reading online, everyone is mean, lazy, and stupid. Makes you wonder if there’s something wrong with anyone who chooses a career as web writer.
The origin behind that harsh designation, though, is interesting. It’s how New York University philosophy professor Jim Pryor suggests his students view their readers.
Which is what my podcast, Rough Draft, is all about. In just a few minutes a day I deliver essential writing advice you need to succeed online, four days a week.
But unlike most business podcasts (where interviews rule the roost) Rough Draft is a monologue.
It’s just you, me, and 15 years of experience working with top brands like KISSmetrics, Salesforce, Hubspot, and, of course, Copyblogger (where I am Chief Content Writer).
Tomfoolery included. [Read more…]
How do people find things on the web? Search engines.
Google, as you probably know, is the dominate search name. There’s also this thing called Bing. Then smaller boutique search engines that specialize in narrow fields. Academic, medical.
The job of a search engine like Google is to find content that matches your query (the question you are asking):
- How far is the earth from the sun?
- Who is the leader singer of Led Zeppelin?
- What is a freemason?
You shuffle to the front door and open it. An autumn thunderstorm blew through while you slept, bringing frigid air with it. You are surprised to see a young woman in a peasant top and floral pencil skirt standing at your doorstep. She’s drenched to the bone.
“My goodness, are you okay?” you say.
“Hi,” she says, “I’m fine.” She extends her hand. You take it. It is a firm grip. “I’m Madeline,” she says.
She looks over her shoulder. A tall man wearing a black button up oxford and white tie nods from the sidewalk. He’s leaning on an umbrella.
She then looks you square in the eye and says, “Are you ready for the end of the world?” [Read more…]
The first mention of an elevator is thought to be around 236 A.D. It was nearly seventeen hundred years later before the first working models were actually installed (in English and French palaces, no less).
There was just one problem. If the lift cable broke, the cab dropped – wounding or killing everyone inside.
In 1852, Elisha Otis hoped to save lives (and make money) by introducing his safety elevator. And he did it with a very dramatic demonstration. In front of a crowd of onlookers at the Crystal Palace in 1853, Otis raised his safety elevator three stories high, and then cut the cable – while he was still inside.
But instead of plunging into the ground below, the elevator stopped when knurled rollers engaged. Otis was shaken up, but unhurt. As you can imagine, orders came in hot and heavy.
Otis’ demonstration proves an important principle about belief: If you want people to believe in the hard to believe, then simply demonstrate what your product does.
The blender company Blendtec’s attention-getting “Will It Blend?” YouTube videos are examples of dramatic demonstrations. To dismiss any skepticism about their claim that their blenders could grind anything and still remain sharp, Blendtec blended iPhones, hearing aids, rakes, and so on.
Views of the videos blew through the roof – as did sales.
Of course car salespeople rely heavily on this principle. Instead of wasting hours talking about a car they simply hand the keys over.
You must do the same. Find a way to demonstrate your product. Whether it is software or a service. You’ll have to be creative. And don’t forget: the more dramatic, the better.
P.S. Have you seen my new podcast Rough Draft?
Image source: Thomas Hawk
This article originally appeared as part of this Salesforce article (which I am told by a source close to the company is their most socially popular post).
Last Monday Derek Thompson (senior editor at The Atlantic) missed a wonderful opportunity to talk about one of the things that makes Twitter truly great.
Let me give you some context.
Less than three weeks after deleting the Twitter app from his phone (part of a slew of 2015 resolutions revolving around better productivity), Derek redownloaded the app. Eventually he discovered a new feature: “View Tweet Activity.”
This got him exploring, asking questions, and digging deeper into analytics only to discover what I thought was a common truth: [Read more…]