Head Start

Understanding Marketing Psychology

February 21, 2022 Andy Reilly Episode 25
Head Start
Understanding Marketing Psychology
Show Notes Transcript

Why do some of your marketing campaigns work and others don’t? Why do you yourself as a consumer respond a lot more favorably to some types of messages and not others? At the end of the day, what makes us all take our wallets out and pull the trigger on that next purchase?

The answer to all those questions more often than not comes down to psychology. We are programmed to respond to certain queues - what our peers say about a product, how scarce that product feels, or how likeable the brand selling to us appears - in ways that we ourselves often don’t fully understand.

Today we have an absolutely fascinating discussion for you on all those triggers that make marketing campaigns work, and how you can bring the best of those lessons to your event marketing. We’re going to be touching, among other things, on using race testimonials as social proof, early-bird pricing & price increases, the role of influencers and celebrity runners, and how you can use freebies to increase your registrations and grow your mailing list.

My guest today is Andy Reilly. Andy is the CEO of event marketing company EventGrow and the President of race listing site, Raceplace.com, and he is super-passionate about the subject of marketing psychology and its foundational importance in developing an effective marketing strategy. 

In this episode:

  • Why do people buy stuff? What influences their purchasing decisions? 
  • Robert Cialdini's 6 psychological influence triggers: reciprocity, commitment & consistency, social proof, authority, scarcity, likeability
  • Reciprocity: winning over participants by giving something of value to them for free 
  • Reciprocity in practice: leveraging free training plans and exclusive discount codes to grow your mailing list; using freebies to increase your race survey response rate by 20%
  • Commitment & consistency: aligning your messaging with your participants' goals 
  • Commitment & consistency in practice: supporting people's fitness aspirations; promoting your race's PB potential
  • Social proof: converting people through the power of peer influence
  • Social proof in practice: making the most of past participant reviews; showcasing testimonials on your site; including social proof stats in your ad copy
  • Building social proof: collecting testimonials from race surveys; encouraging participants to leave reviews on race review sites
  • Authority: recruiting authority figures to promote your event
  • Authority in practice: leveraging the power of celebrity participants; using influencers to promote your race; projecting brand authority through high-profile sponsorships; showcasing event awards
  • Scarcity: using loss-aversion (aka FOMO!) to drive registrations 
  • Scarcity in practice: early birds & price increases; the "100 spots left" playbook
  • Likeability: making your brand more likeable
  • Likeability in practice: speaking your audience's language; aligning your event with good causes; recruiting likeable personalities to your event; engaging with your participants online 

Thanks to RunSignup for supporting quality content for race directors by sponsoring this episode. More than 25,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more.

You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com.

You can also share your questions about marketing or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub.

Panos:

Hi! Welcome to Head Start, the podcast for race directors and the business of putting on races. Why do some of your marketing campaigns work and others don't? Why do you yourself as a consumer respond a lot more favorably to some types of messages and not others? At the end of the day, what makes us all take our wallets out and pull the trigger on that next purchase? The answer to all those questions more often than not comes down to psychology. We are programmed to respond to certain queues - what our peers say about a product, how scarce that product feels, or how likable the brand selling to us appears - in ways that we ourselves often don't fully understand. Today we have an absolutely fascinating discussion for you on all those triggers that make marketing campaigns work, and how you can bring the best of those lessons to your event marketing. We're going to be touching, among other things, on using race testimonials as social proof, early-bird pricing and price increases, the role of influencers and celebrity runners, and how you can use freebies to increase your registrations and grow your mailing list. My guest today is Andrew Reilley, and he is the CEO of event marketing company event EventGrow and the President of race listing site, Raceplace.com, and he's super-passionate about the subject of marketing psychology and its foundational importance in developing an effective marketing strategy for your event. Before we go into all that though, I want to give a quick shout out to our podcast sponsor, RunSignup, the leading all-in-one technology solution for endurance and fundraising events. More than 25,000 in-person, virtual, and hybrid events use RunSignup's free and integrated solution to save time, grow their events, and raise more. RunSignup recently released their next generation email marketing suite and it's absolutely stunning - and, of course, absolutely free for all RunSignup customers. So go check that out, and everything else RunSignup can do for your event at runsignup.com. Okay, now, let's get into this amazing episode! Andy, welcome to the podcast!

Andy:

Panos, thank you for having me!

Panos:

Well, thanks a lot for coming on. It's been a while actually. What lovely place are you joining from today?

Andy:

I am in sunny San Diego, California. It's about 70 degrees and things are good.

Panos:

Excellent. Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and your background in the industry before we go into anything else. So, you are a marketer by trade. You run your own dedicated race marketing agency EventGrow. You're also the man behind the race discovery site, RacePlace. Tell us all about it.

Andy:

Yeah, I've been in the event marketing space for probably about 10 years now. I started doing sales at active.com several years ago. I made 50 calls a day, called event directors, and told them that online registration is the new way to go. So I learned a lot in that period of time. Then, I had an opportunity to work with some good events such as Spartan Race and a couple of other ones that were, kind of, cutting edge in terms of marketing. So once I left Active, I kind of started my own marketing company called EventGrow. What we do there is we help events - particularly endurance events - grow participation through digital marketing. So we run Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google ads, and create email sequences that help them get more people to the start line. So, that's kind of what I've been focusing on the last several years. In addition to that, I have a company called RacePlace, which has been in our family for many, many years. In fact, RacePlace started in 1986 as a magazine. Then, we kind of converted it over time from a small website with about 2,000 visits a month to, I think, 160,000 visits a month and it's one of the top race calendars in the USA. So, all of my stuff's focused on the event space and that's what I like to do. Personally, I'm a former professional baseball player - it's still a passion of mine. I play on weekends when I can. I've been playing through the pandemic and that, kind of, kept me sane.

Panos:

Awesome. Well, baseball is a game I don't understand, but that's maybe a topic for some other chat. I should actually say to people listening in, particularly if they're based in the US, that they should check out raceplace.com I think it's an awesome race discovery site with tons of traffic - very functional. People look for races on that site all the time, so make sure your race is on there if it's based in the US. I think it's interesting to do a little bit of, like, background and give our listeners a little bit of context for this episode. Because I've known you for a little while-- I haven't been in this industry for as long as you have but I've known you for a while. We were catching up the other day when I said, "We should do some marketing topics for the podcast." And we're thinking, "Maybe, we'll do Facebook or Google ads" which I'm sure we'll get into in the future. But interestingly, we sort of arrived at this idea of, firstly, doing a podcast episode on the fundamentals of marketing psychology, and you got really interested in this idea. I know you feel very, very passionate about this topic, sort of - the foundational importance of marketing psychology. So why don't you tell our listeners to begin with - what do we mean when we speak of marketing psychology, and why is understanding marketing psychology such an important thing in order to be successful with your event marketing?

Andy:

When I first got started and intrigued by marketing, I've always been intrigued by why do people make the decision. Like, ultimately, what are the things that lead people to make a decision to pull their credit card out and purchase a product or service - in this case, to register for an event? And so, a lot of that purchasing decision comes down to, kind of, psychology and how our brains are wired. And so, at its root, what we're going to talk about today is a couple of things that trigger and influence decisions to purchase. I just find that fascinating, personally - like, I can't get enough of that this particular topic because it's a lot deeper than just putting a promotion out there and somebody purchasing. If you're a marketer, it really helps you understand the psychology of human beings, really helps you understand and craft promotions that are more successful. So, that's kind of the root of psychology - why it's important. It's so that we're very thoughtful about the promotions that we're putting out there and we're basing a lot of those promotions in a way that the human brain, kind of, works. That's really why it's important. In the end, the promotions are more effective that way. So, that's also important as well. We want to run profitable promotions, right? We don't just want to run discounts willy-nilly and have no strategy. There's a strategy behind it, so it's really kind of digging into that.

Panos:

And actually, when you were saying about, like, understanding how the brain works, from a marketing point of view, we're, sort of, like, talking lizard brain stuff here - right? Not sort of, like, being aware of what's happening - right? We're talking about all those subtle triggers without you even understanding it - like, through creating urgency, being likable, and all of this stuff that we're going to get into. It sort of appeals to you at a level that, as a consumer, you don't even understand what's happening - right? I mean, not in a bad way. It just appeals to some of the stuff that is so fundamental to you as a human being.

Andy:

Yeah, it's just kind of part of our nature. And yeah, you're exactly right. I mean, this stuff is happening whether we know it or not. I mean, it's happening in our brains. And so, we're going to talk about the key triggers that influence people's decisions to actually purchase an item and how we can use those triggers to our advantage as marketers to get people, in particular, to sign up for events.

Panos:

From what I understand, this concept of psychological triggers is based on the work of Robert Cialdini. Am I pronouncing that correctly?

Andy:

That's correct.

Panos:

A book he wrote on influence, which I think is a pretty seminal book - I didn't know about it but I looked up the reviews on Amazon and people think it's like the Bible or something. So it's this guy that has influenced these concepts and the six triggers we're going to be talking about - right?

Andy:

Exactly, yeah. Robert Cialdini is considered, kind of, the leading social scientist in the field of influence. His book is something every marketer should read. It's very interesting - even if you're not a marketer - just to understand why people are influenced. He's a famous American psychologist, and he's really, kind of, the leading social scientist around influence - which is what we're going to talk about today - in regards to why people are influenced to purchase things. One thing I want to mention before we get into these six triggers is one of the reasons why Robert Cialdini went in and created this book is was to actually protect consumers from using these triggers in a way that's deceptive. So these triggers we'll talk about today are triggers that show how to influence others to purchase things, or influence others to do what you want them to do. So obviously, you have to be careful with that because there are a lot of people and scammers that use these triggers to try to deceive people to get them to buy their product, to click this link, or whatever it may be. So, I want to mention that because what we're going to focus on today is how to use these in a positive way to get people to register for your race - which we know in our industry is a good thing - or maybe get somebody to donate more to your fundraising campaign that you're running for your particular event. So, we're going to focus on those things. However, be aware that these exact triggers can be used in the complete opposite direction in a completely wrong way.

Panos:

Yeah. And actually, I would take that one step further. Obviously, we're going to be examining those from the perspective of, like, using them to just improve your marketing copy, for instance, your creatives, working on some pricing strategies that work. There's nothing particularly nefarious here - like, early-bird is one of those strategies - right? I mean, it's not voodoo or anything. And actually, I would say, again, going back to the example of the early bird, that a lot of the things we're going to be talking about, lots of people already do but they just do not understand or standardize the theory behind what they do. People use discounts and limited-time offers - that's the kinds of things we're going to be talking about, but we're just going to be, like, dissecting and breaking them down a little bit.

Andy:

Yeah, exactly. Price increases-- a lot of these things are already used and they're only simply used because they're effective. We're actually going to help people understand - if they don't already - why they're effective, which will hopefully expand people's usage of them. It'll hopefully also create new ideas of other ways they can use that knowledge with those particular things or with new things. So I think that's an important thing. You're right - you do it already and it works. But why does it work? And how can we leverage that for something new or different? Or how can we make it better?

Panos:

Exactly. Okay. We'll be going through the triggers one by one. Just for everyone's summary, the six triggers are-- I think there was a seventh added in a newer edition of the book, but the six triggers that Robert Cialdini first identified and analyzed were reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, scarcity, and likeability. So we're going to be going into all of those with some amazing concrete examples you came up with to, sort of, like, illustrate how those work. And let's start with reciprocity. So how does the psychology of reciprocity work?

Andy:

Reciprocity, in a very simple and explainable way-- basically, we always try to repay what somebody has gifted us. So if somebody gives us a compliment or provides us with a gift, the psychology around that is we always feel as though we need to repay them in some way, shape, or form with something equivalent or greater to what they have gifted us. So this is rooted in our psychology. So to expand upon the examples I mentioned-- like, if somebody buys us dinner, we feel the need to buy them that kind of meal back in return. If somebody provides you in-store food samples at Costco - maybe you don't have Costco in the UK, so it can be just any large stores that offer free food samples - what they're doing is actually triggering a little bit of reciprocity if we accept it. If we accept that sample, then we feel the need to return them something whether it's purchasing their product or giving them time to listen to their pitch. Another example would be when an author provides you a free copy of a book and says, "Free copy. We'll pay for shipping." We feel the need to give them something back. Maybe, we'll enter their mailing list or take them up on that offer with free shipping and, now, we're part of their marketing funnel. So really, in social situations, when you recognize this, you don't want to face the awkwardness of not repaying or returning their favor if they say something or provide you with some form of value or gift. So, the key thing to remember is once we accept this gift, once we say 'Yes' to this gift, that's when reciprocity takes its power because that's when it's in full effect. Once we've accepted this gift, now, we're going to feel a need to provide them, kind of, something in return. So that's the core example of reciprocity. You'll see this everywhere. It could be as simple as somebody providing you with a compliment. This can be used to gain influence over you. That's kind of some of the real-world examples of how it's used. Now, if we bring this down to the event level, let's talk about how we can use this in event marketing and how we use it at our agency for all events that we work with. The first example would be - very effective - to offer a free training plan in exchange for an email address. So a lot of events already have coaches that they work with - they might have training plans that they've created. It can be something as simple as a PDF, a Google Docs, an Excel sheet, or something of that form that has a legitimate training plan on it, something that's valuable for a runner or an athlete that they can use to get ready for your event. It's a good way to help tie to a promotion to get people to sign up - using and triggering reciprocity. When you provide that free training plan, you'll almost immediately always going to get an email address at a high signup rate. So at a very basic level, like you might not be getting a registration-- but how valuable is a new email address to you? Well, it's pretty valuable, especially, to kind of grow your email list if you bring new people into your event. The second best way to grow your email list is to run a promotion like that, where you offer something free in exchange for an email address. Now, you can start a relationship with that person and, ultimately, start to convert that person to become an actual member or somebody that buys from you. So that's a great example. And we use that constantly with, like, a popup on your website or an exit-intent that offers a training plan - you create an image for the training plan and then start that relationship with them. So that's the first one. The second one would be offering a discount code in exchange for someone joining your mailing list or liking your social media account. As part of a promotion, you can offer something like an exclusive discount. And if they sign up for that discount and give you their email address, they get value in return. Now, they're in your marketing ecosystem - right? So it's kind of low-hanging fruit. But we're always trying to think about ways we can grow the email list. and using reciprocity is another really good way to do it. Another one would be offering a free T-shirt upon purchase or registration - these are called premiums in the marketing world. We've seen these in a lot of different ways - free T-shirt upon purchase or registration, or free booklet with XYZ content with the purchase of an item. When we offer these free premiums, a lot of times, this triggers reciprocity, in a way, because it offers them something for free and that, kind of, improves your level of influence around them making a smaller or larger decision to purchase the product - it's kind of tied in together. And this has worked really well especially if it's something of value that they appreciate. So, that's the third example. The final example would be offering a chance to win a free entry in exchange for the completion of your survey - this is a great one. This actually ties in with social proof, which we'll talk about later - how we collect social proof. But if you give people a chance to win a free entry, typically, what a lot of people will do is they'll go ahead and take your survey. So, we found up to 20% more people will take the survey if you offer some form of gift or potential to even win a gift - not even a gift itself, but the potential to even win a gift. In return, people will return the favor by taking your 4-minute survey that they might not have taken. So, that data and information that you get from that survey are extremely valuable. However, if we hadn't offered that we might not get as many people that take us up on that. Those are, like, four concrete ways that you can use it with your event that we've had success with. But remember, by simply providing value to somebody as a gift or something to create an ongoing relationship, they'll try to return that value to you in some way, shape, or form, whether it's by giving you an email signing for your event or taking a survey. So, those are a couple of examples.

Panos:

Right. And it doesn't necessarily have to be, like, a quid pro quo - right? It doesn't necessarily have to be, "We'll give you that. So, you give us something else back." If you just freely give people something, they'll also put themselves in a position to want to find a way to repay you somehow - right?

Andy:

Exactly. We're triggered in our heads to try to repay people that provide us value. A lot of times, people would create gated content, paywalls, and a lot of things that get up in front of somebody. The way that we can open up and get more people into our marketing ecosystem is to actually provide things for free. It might sound, "Well, that's not really going to be cost-effective." Well, a free training plan is not going to cost anything. So, there are already things you have that you could provide for free, like, whether it's a training plan, some type of PDF, or some type of program. Really, it's the marketing cost - you could provide that for free on the front end. If you actually provide something of value, reciprocity kicks in and they're going to give you something back. They're probably going to give you, like I said, an email address or something like that. And so really, this is the psychology behind what you see out there - whether it's a premium or stuff like that. This is actually what's happening in the event world and also in social situations.

Panos:

Do you think - sort of, like, taking this a step further - that if I have identified, like, a local celebrity or a local influencer who are also runners-- let's say I reach out to them, send them a comp entry, and tell them, "Here's a free entry for you," so that they would, sort of, feel obliged then to give me, like, a shout-out for the event or something like that just to repay me.

Andy:

Well, there's no guarantee that they'll provide you that, but you've put yourself in a position to have a better chance at getting that because of reciprocity. Because you initially engaged them with value and a gift of sorts, they'll be much higher inclined to provide you value. It just sounds simple. It's like if I just went and asked somebody to give me something, there's no chance I'll get it. But if I provide them with a gift first that's actually of value, then there's a higher chance of them providing that back to me. So, there's actually some equality here in this because if we're actually providing true value, then this can be an equitable transaction, right? If we're not providing value - it's something's nefarious on the back end - and it's a bad product or service, that's very different. But we're talking about events that actually provide value and things that we can do. That's kind of how that works.

Panos:

Right. I guess the whole principle here is that you give something up that is valued by the other party in a different way than the thing you hope to receive from that other party - right? So you give - let's say a comp entry, which is not super important to you - a free training plan and, then, expect the other party to repay you in something that is valuable to you.

Andy:

Yeah, exactly. Internally, we're looking at and saying, "Okay, what's the cost of our training plan?" And we're saying, "Well, we worked with a coach, they created it, we paid them a flat fee, and now we, kind of, own that plan." Well, to us, there's no cost that's already paid for, but the runner might pay $30 for that especially if it's a training plan that's tailored to your event. For example, I work with the Hospital Hill Run and with a training coach to create a hill training plan, specifically, for hills for that race. So there's a lot of value for the runner. We've paid him a very small flat fee to create that plan, so it's not an expensive thing to us, but when we offer to them, there is that value there. So, there's a value exchange. And then, we actually tie that to registration. We're saying, "If you sign up by a certain date, we're going to give you the hill training plan for free." So, we're kind of trying to use this together. And I think, like I said, if there's an equal kind of value exchange, then this can be a benefit for both parties.

Panos:

Yeah, that's a great example with the Hospital Hill Run. And I think now that we're going over the examples, people are going to be, like, having flashbacks and stuff because, as you say, these things happen to people all the time, right? I mean, people offer you free stuff online in order to get your email address or to get you to sign up for stuff all the time. So, that sort of, like, clarifies the principle behind it. Trigger number two is commitment and consistency. So, what is that all about?

Andy:

Commitment and consistency is the desire to be consistent with what we've already said or done in the past. Really, that's what it is. So, we have a desire to be consistent with what we have already said or done in the past. Once we've put something into words and put it out publicly, we feel the pressure to follow through with that commitment. That's really what it is in essence. An example would be posting on social media that you're running your first half marathon in four months. Your social commitment will, kind of, force others and yourself to stay accountable and consistent with what you've said. We are always trying to stay accountable and consistent with what we've said. Another example would be you making it publicly known that you have a goal to lose weight - let's say, 10-20 pounds - in a period of time to become healthier. Well, your habits will now steer your actions towards, kind of, getting closer to that goal and not away from it, especially, because you've put it out there publicly. So, there's this psychological thing going on in the background of trying to stay consistent with what we've said or done. When we put it out publicly, it becomes even stronger because we're not just talking to ourselves, but we're talking to others as well. And others will actually hold us accountable to those commitments as well, which is another powerful piece of it. In job interviews, let's say you state that you have certain commitments and values and then you have examples that would back those things up, a good job interviewer or company will then see those values and where those values line up with their company, and they'll actually try to ask you about how your values, kind of, line up with your actions. A good company will use the psychological trigger of commitment and consistency to, then, tie those values to their company values. So they would say, "I see that you have these values," and then they'll kind of align those things with their company values because of what you said. And the way that influencers and marketers can use this is, let's say, for example, we know there are people who are publicly saying that they want to lose weight for the new year - right? So how can this influence copy or our ads for the new year? And so, if people are trying to stay consistent with what they say and we know that they want to lose weight, we can say something like, "Are you looking to reach your personal best in 2022? This could be for a running or cycling event. Take on a new challenge by signing up for our event." So, once again, are you looking to reach your personal best in 2022? So, we're making an assumption here that it's January and people are trying to lose weight, we're making an assumption that people are talking about this. And you see this on social media - right? If you follow people and runners on social media, they're pretty vocal about, maybe, what some of their goals are, whether it's a PR, personal best or, like I said, weight loss. So, those assumptions and things we're seeing can introduce what we're saying in our copy - that's one piece. Another one could be, if you've surveyed your audience and got back from your survey that a certain percentage - or a higher percentage than what you may have thought - of your audience say they will donate to your event's charity, if you have data and information to show that people are willing to say that they're willing to donate more to a charity, then you could say, "Commit to give back in 2022. Raise money for the children's foundation with us." or "30% of you said that you'd be willing to donate more to charity. Help us out this year. Become a fundraiser. Make your miles count." So once somebody commits out there to the public, they want to stay consistent with that. So when we're writing our advertising copy, we think about what have people said in the past or present - what are they saying that they want to stay consistent with? These are noble things - I'm trying to lose weight, I'm trying to get fit, I'm trying to PR, I would be interested in fundraising more. These are all good things. So the way we use that to get them to buy is by calling them on those things, not in a way that's calling them out necessarily. "Hey, you said you wanted to lose weight. What are you doing?! Sign up for our race!" "Hey, new to running? Looking at getting fit? Are you new to running and looking at getting fit this year? Become a part of our training plan and get 15% off for our race." So we're kind of tying this consistency message or keeping them consistent with what they said into our copy. And I think copy is probably the most natural place to do this. You can do it in the creative - the actual image itself or video - or you could overlay it. I think copy is the most powerful way to help people stay consistent and committed to what they said.

Panos:

Yeah. And actually, I guess you did this on purpose there, the example you gave, sort of, combines the reciprocity and the commitment principle together. You're advertising to people around the new year, telling them to become fitter this year by joining the race, getting a free training plan, and those kinds of things. And then, you're bringing in the - value and gift - reciprocity angle to it as well.

Andy:

Yeah. And when you can combine it with those, it's even more powerful because you have two working principles versus just one.

Panos:

Excellent. Okay. Now, the third one - I think we're going to be spending some time on this one - is super powerful. I mean, we all appreciate that. There's a reason why there are testimonials, reviews, and everything all over the web. To be honest, even Amazon made it so far because of people going and checking reviews up there. So, the third trigger is social proof. Most people would have some understanding of what that means, but why don't you, sort of, like, spell it out for us a little bit more?

Andy:

Yeah. I'd say social proof is the most powerful one on this list especially in this day and age with, obviously, the ability to search very quickly and find out a lot of different things about a lot of businesses. Social proof is things like reviews and testimonials. Basically, it's information that other consumers have left reviews about online that give us an indication of the quality of that product or service. We never want to be the first person to try something. We don't want to be the first. We don't want to be let down. We don't want to waste our money. We want good products and services. And we're very fearful about losing things, losing our money, losing our time - we're actually more fearful about that than we are joyous about gaining something equivalent - we'll talk about that one later. But really, that's what social proof comes down to. So, almost 9 out of 10 consumers will read online reviews before they buy something. I mean, like, I'll search Yelp for reviews of several restaurants that my wife and I have booked - we'll go online - especially if it's a new restaurant. I'm sure you've had a similar experience - you do it pretty much for everything. You look up restaurants, dental offices, and events because if you haven't tried these products yet, you're sure as hell not going to look at this and say, "Well, I'm just going to sign up." Right? How can I gain some more information from my peers to make sure that I am not only the first but also that this is a good product or service - that's social proof and that's one of the reasons it's so powerful. When there are more people that validate it, it increases its perceived value in our minds, and it decreases the amount of potential loss that we could factor in. So like, the more value that gets assigned to these products and services, it kind of has a reverse effect on how much-- "Well, we're not going to lose our money." 9 out of 10, consumers will look at reviews online before they buy something and 7 out of 10 consumers will pay attention to reviews, specifically, written in the last month or so. So that's a key thing, right? 9 out of 10 people are looking at reviews online, and 7 out of 10 are looking at recent reviews - within a month or so from the previous month. So that's key for us to know across the board, but you could assume that's with events. So, we know social proof is important. We just talked about it. In our minds, the psychology around it is the more people that validate it, the more value it has on our head, and the better the chance that we're going to buy it. So the question now is how do we collect social proof for our event and, then, how do we use it to drive more sales? First, probably, the best way is through surveys. So asking your runners an open-ended question through your runner survey is an incredibly powerful way to gain testimonials and pieces of social proof that, then, you can use on different parts of your marketing. So that's one of the reasons why we always attach a gift - reciprocity - to our survey is because we know if we get 20% more people taking our survey, we would potentially get 15%, 10%, or 9% more social proof. And we know social proof is probably the most powerful thing that we can use. Now, we're going to take those testimonies and ask those individuals if it's okay for us to use those testimonials on our website. So, the key thing about social proof is collecting it and then displaying it. So, collecting it in the surveys - that's a great place to collect it. Next place that a lot of people don't leverage right now-- I think people and events know that people look online before they buy stuff, but I just don't think that they look at these race review sites that are out there in our space and add as much value to them as I think they probably deserve. No site is too small. Now, race review sites and race websites - I have a little knowledge around this with Raceplace - have great SEO. So when you search for events, sometimes - unless you search for the event name perfectly - oftentimes the race website, race calendar, or race review site - they're not always the same thing, but similar - will pop up first before you. They'll actually get the click before your event gets the click. So, now what's happening on their site? Well, if it's a race review site, people are finding out information about your event from other reviews. Now, they actually searched for your event and found it that way. If they're actually sourcing race review sites, which a lot of people are, then they're going to these sites. So, try to work with these race review sites and encourage your audience to review your race on those sites. There are a couple of ways that you could do it. You could exchange a discount code with your audience. For example, when the event's over, send your survey out, get your quality information there and, then, maybe offer up a discount code for somebody to review your race on, let's say - I'm not going to use any race review site names because I don't want to pick favorites - a certain race review site out there. You can go and provide your audience a discount if they leave a review on that site because if they've left a review on that site, there's an extra little nugget of social proof and you could do this every season. So we talked about recent reviews being important. If you offer $10 off your race for the next year in exchange for a review, that's a good exchange because of how many people who saw that review and signed up as a result of it. So the discount code is nulled because, ultimately, as more and more people hit that site-- these race review sites are growing - they're not getting smaller. I don't see them getting any smaller anytime soon. In fact, it's the opposite. So the more social proof that's on your race review site, the more social proof you're going to be able to use and, ultimately, drive up your sales. So those are two ways to, kind of, get that type of proof. Where you can use this social proof that's powerful, first, is on your website. I always try to have those testimonials aligned and recent. And then, I'll display those on the homepage. So you see these on a lot of websites, not just event websites. You'll see testimonials there. They're basically displaying social proof to gain more influence and add validity to their product or service. It's the same with events. You can have a lot of these recent reviews that came in on your survey and you can display those on your website after you've got approval from, obviously, the person that gave the review. But let's say you have that, you can show a list of, maybe, six to eight to ten reviews on your website right on your homepage. So when people are scanning races that are new, they're like, "What is this? I don't know if this is any good." Well, a really powerful way to increase the perceived value of your product is to put those reviews right on your website. You can also take them right off of these race review sites. So once again, if you have approval from that person - you get their proper approvals - you can take a race review, screenshot it, turn it into text, and put it on your site. Now, you have a third-party review, which can be really powerful too - it didn't even come directly from you. You can use the race website's logo if they're okay with it - I'm sure they would because there would be exposure for them - and say, "Look, people are reviewing this on other sites and talking about us." That's extremely powerful and will help them in their purchasing decision to get closer to the buy button versus further away from it - it's probably the most powerful thing. So website is number one. Number two would be your ad copy and your creative. So when you have, let's say, a piece of information from your review that says - for example, this was from a marathon we work with - 93% of past runners would recommend our race to their friends. So, we found that interesting. We're like, "Oh, that's great!" Nearly every single person that did this race would recommend it to their friend. How can we use that to drive sales? So what we did was in our actual Facebook ad copy that we wrote, we said, "Run XYZ marathon and come see why 93% of past runners recommend this race." So, that's data from our survey that we use in our ads. So, we're reusing this psychological trigger - social proof - in our actual ad copy and in our creative. You could also use, "Come see why we're rated 4.9 out of 5 stars on XYZracereviewsite.com. It might sound, like, tacky to do that. But just remember, you're psychologically triggering something in their head that says, "This has value. Look what other people are saying." The most powerful thing that can happen in marketing, I think, to get people to buy stuff is when other people talk about you. We're not actually talking about ourselves, but we're showing you what other people are saying about us. So that social proof and community validation is extremely, extremely powerful. You can put it in your Facebook ad copy. You can put it on your website. Definitely, you can put it in your email copy. You can have a nugget that lives on there for all of your emails, "See why 93% of people recommend us." There's some social proof out there that you can find and use. I would always think about integrating that into your campaigns and then collecting that through your survey and through those websites.

Panos:

One aspect of social marketing I think is worth briefly touching on, before we move on from social proof, is peer-to-peer referrals - that's when one of your participants refers a friend or a family member to sign up for your race. In 2021 referrals of this kind drove a massive 7% of all registrations on RunSignup and it's an area RunSignup has invested and continues to invest in very heavily through its industry-leading referral rewards platform. With referral rewards you can incentivize your participants to want to sign up more and more people for your race to earn rewards for themselves and for the people they sign up. For example, you can promote team participation by offering every team of over, say, 25 participants that sign up for your race a private porta-potty - isn't that neat? Or you can offer automated discounts and refunds to all team members once a team meets a predetermined threshold size. There's so many clever things you can do around referral awards and with RunSignup's automated referral reward system you can be up and running with your referral campaigns in minutes. So if you want to learn more about RunSignup's referral rewards and turning your top supporters into ambassadors for your event, make sure to visit runsignup.com. Okay, now, let's get back to Andy Reilly and our very interesting discussion on marketing psychology. Next up - more social proof. One other thing that I find very interesting and persuading with race reviews is, for me, sort of, as a runner, when I go on a site, whether it's the races website or a third-party website, and read through someone's experience - I don't know whether it's a storytelling thing or a social proof thing - it's, sort of, easier for me to imagine what it would be to run that race, right? When someone was saying, "Yeah, I ran through that race. People were cheering. The atmosphere was amazing. The course was super beautiful." You, sort of, almost put yourself in the position of that person writing the review and you get a little bit of that good feeling from someone else experiencing that.

Andy:

Yeah. And that's what's so powerful. When somebody else experiences it and talks about it, they're marketing for you. When somebody else talks about you and validates you, that's incredibly powerful from an influence perspective. And so, now, the question is, "How do we use that? How do we get more of that? And how do we use it?" That's why I mentioned that you need to consistently ask questions to your audience through surveys and using race reviews. A lot of race directors will tell me, "Well, I know my people love our race." And I'm like, "Can you show it? Can you actually show it? If you can't show it, then it's hard to leverage it. You're basically leveraging, like, a bunch of brand equity that you've built up. So you need to peel that brand equity out, go look for them on race review sites, then go and use that and talk about it.

Panos:

One other thing, by the way, that comes to mind now when we're talking about social proof - I'm sure you've seen it as a marketer - as a consumer, it feels a little bit, sort of, like, gray area to me but you must have seen that little widget or service you can get-- I know some people in the industry actually have them on their websites and I'm not a big fan of it, because I know what's happening behind the scenes, where you go on the website and have a little pop up at the bottom left of the website or something that tells you, like, 'Dave from Michigan just purchased this', like, every two seconds you're on the site, right? And obviously, 'Dave from Michigan' didn't purchase that at that moment but you would get that constant validation when you're on the site. I've seen it on race websites, actually, as well, where you would say, 'Louise from whatever joined the race'. Have you seen that?

Andy:

Yeah. In fact, one of those tools is called proof. I think it's useproof.com - they might have changed it. It's a tool that's leveraging this psychological trigger social proof to show-- I don't even think it's real-time. I mean, I think that a lot of them are delayed - maybe somebody bought a day ago and it's like, "Panos bought from this place." But that's all it's doing - all it's doing is accentuating social proof and trying to use social proof to validate your product or service even more. It's a smart tool because it's doing it right at the point of purchase just like an Amazon review. When it's right at the point of purchase, that's powerful. That's why I always say, "Put those reviews on your website, on your homepage." So it's kind of, like, doing that, I think - that would be a better use of it. Will that tool work on your website? You can test it and it could probably help with conversion. I think it can look a little tacky. If you set it up the wrong way, it could backfire - right? But that's what that tool is leveraging.

Panos:

I don't want to necessarily, sort of, give people a shout out or something but I should say that RaceCheck, which is one of those, like, review sites, actually, very recently, pivoted as a company that RaceCheck.com - it's a little bit more popular in the UK, I think. So they pivoted around this concept of like social proof and feedback management and they have a widget you can put on your website where they show the reviews they collect from people on their site on your website. And I think they also did some kind of, like, research and they think that it basically increases the probability of someone registering for your race by, like, 20% or something. Like, they have an actual widget there that pops up and say, "This race is rated 4.9 on RaceCheck or something." And you can put that widget on your site and it would help people to, sort of, like, sign up. So apparently, it's a whole standalone product now that you can get which probably means that it works quite well.

Andy:

Yeah, a lot of those products - and it sounds like that one - will leverage this principle to help with conversion. And like I said, when you put that stuff at the point of purchase-- if you think about it, if I'm on the edge and I see two messages, 'This is 4.9 out of 5' and 'XYZ person left this great review about it', that might just be what pushes me over. So, if you multiply that by how many consumers hit your page or funnel, then yeah, it can have a very material impact on your sales.

Panos:

Yeah. Okay, super. Let's move on. I think we've covered social proof quite extensively - there were lots of examples there from you on collecting social proof and displaying it. So, it's not good enough just to, like, collect it - you need to, sort of, put it everywhere, as you said, on emails, ad copy, creative, website, everywhere. So trigger number four - I think we're on that now - is authority. It seems to be a little bit, sort of, like, a kin to social proof. So what sort of lever are you pulling there with authority?

Andy:

Yeah, this one's interesting. Authority is, at a very young age, we were taught to respect figures of authority - police officers, a judge, or a doctor. Authority figures are people that we respect and really obey because they're in authority. So it's something that we've learned at a very young age. And as you mentioned, this rule - you could call it that, kind of - tends to overlap with social proof in a way, but it's different in the sense of the level of authority a person possesses. The higher level of authority a person possesses, the more influence they have on us making decisions. So, it doesn't perfectly correlate to events. I would say that the way you could leverage this is, if you have a celebrity or a current former authority figure athlete attending your event, you could promote that person's authority to influence others to purchase your event. So, it does two things. One - because that person has authority and a following, that's going to increase people's perception of your event's value and they're going to sign up. In addition to that, it also kind of increases social proof. So it's a little bit of a dual-factor here. You're increasing the social proof because somebody saw somebody with authority doing your event or signing up for your event. So, the authority aspect gets people to, kind of, sign up. So, the simple way to use this is if you have any of those celebrities that are going to be coming to your event, signing up for your event, coming to your fundraiser, and being part of it, then maybe reach out to them, offer them a gift - reciprocity - and get them to help market for you because they're a person of authority, and people are going to see that, and it's going to validate you more. So, we can work with that person of authority that's already going to be at our event - this would happen pre-event - by reaching out to their social media team or whoever it may be, and seeing if they're willing to share posts, seeing if they're willing to do a simple meet and greet, seeing if they're willing to do a quick testimonial at the event where they could talk about why they do the event and why it's important to them, and maybe capturing and using that on your website, using that in a video, and maybe using that to further validate your event in the following season knowing that that could be, kind of, an evergreen piece. So really, in a simple way, it kind of, like I said, overlaps with social proof. Think about who with authority comes to your event and try to work with that person.

Panos:

Actually, I would probably take that one step further - because you mentioned video there-- I always thought when we put on events way back a few years now, I feel that investing in quality photography and quality video may actually come under the umbrella of authority - right? You're actually, sort of, like, bigging up your event a little bit - right? When you have, like, a super awesome video, amazing photography, or a great trailer with a little drone or something, you're, sort of, like, conveying to people that you're that kind of high-quality and high-caliber event that would use that kind of media, right? Are you not?

Andy:

Yeah, absolutely. When you use stuff like that, it's going to increase, kind of, the perceived value around the event. It's going to make it look more substantial in people's minds. That's only going to help with the way that they look at it. In this day and age, if it's not at least a 1080P video, then that's a problem because then it looks-- this is kind of a side note - it doesn't look as quality. It's a little grainy - the footage is grainy. It's not acceptable. Like, you have the opportunity. Everyone has an iPhone. My iPhone can take 4K footage. I think - as far back - the iPhone 11 can take 4K. So we have the tools to create quality-looking content - let's do that - that's going to increase the value around the event and make it look more professional.

Panos:

Yeah, I mean, I really feel that sort of, like, branding comes under this - right? I mean, you need to have a good professional, high-quality brand. And the other thing which I think is particularly-- I have tons of examples from the trail running scene. I used to have people putting on trail races who I knew - for instance, some of the smarter folks among them - who will go out to big sponsors like Salomon, North Face, La Sportiva, and all of the big trail running sponsors without actually asking much of the sponsor in exchange of, like, implied endorsement that a high-profile sponsor gives to your event, right? Because imagine being, like, a local trail race on your first or second year trying to make a difference and stand out - people don't care how much cash you got out of it - like, if I was entering a race and saw Salomon in the roster of sponsors, I would think this race is big to have a sponsor like that, right?

Andy:

Yeah. Like you said before, a good way to put that would be the brand authority. If you work with more brands that have a level of authority established, that's only going to increase your level of established authority in the mind of the consumer, which will ultimately make more of them purchase more often.

Panos:

There's a couple of industry awards for running races and other races, sort of. Do you think going after those is a good use of time and resources just to earn that additional authority to be able to say 'Our race was voted top 50 marathons in the US' or something like that?

Andy:

Yes, I do. In fact, one of the races we work with got voted for, I think, the best marathon or half marathon in Kansas City. I'm not exactly sure but I believe our race director went out and connected with, I think, what used to be a magazine - it was, like, a media organization. I think they're now, kind of, a blog. They submitted for that, put their hat in the ring, so to speak, and ended up winning twice. So to the effect of how hard is it for us to enter our hat into the ring, if it's not very difficult and extremely time-consuming, then that social proof and authority that we might gain on the background and use is well worth it. If you get an award, even if it's from a third-party media organization that's not huge, you can reference that award - that will probably last you social proof wise for at least two years. I mean, if I say 'We won the 2020 best race in UK award from XYZ media organization', people couldn't help but see that and say, "Interesting. Okay!" That validates you a little bit more. So, I think it is worth it.

Panos:

Yeah. And I would probably say that pandemic years don't count. I think you can go as far back as, maybe, 2018 and it would feel recent to people - like, nothing happened in 2020 and 2021. So, you can go back a few years although - you were mentioning earlier on reviews as well - recency counts, right? If you post something like 'We were the 2009 best marathon', people are gonna think that's not particularly relevant anymore.

Andy:

Yeah. We all did the pandemic calculations in our head around years and we're like, "Errr." So yeah, I guess we all have an opportunity to start fresh.

Panos:

Absolutely. Okay. So, trigger number five - another one that people would be familiar with, sort of, empirically, from just doing stuff - is scarcity. Tell us a little bit about that, and how that works to influence our purchasing decisions.

Andy:

I'd say this is the next most important one to social proof. A lot of us are familiar with scarcity - it's really just the perception that products are more attractive when their availability is limited. So, when products or services availability is scarce or limited, the price or rush to participate in buying that product goes up. This is a really effective tool to drive sales because it applies to not only the quantity of a product but also the timing and price of its availability. We'll talk a little bit about that. But the example would be when an event has a limited amount of half-marathon spots left, the remaining spots become scarce. So if you're saying, 'Look, we have a cap and we're going to sell out', those remaining spots will become scarce and they'll become more attractive. So, your sales will probably start to increase against those spots. You could probably increase the price in addition to that and they'll still sell because they're more scarce. So, this scarcity in our minds, kind of, work like psychology. If something is scarce, its value starts to go up - right? If something is limited, its value goes up. So, that's really scarcity. What's really important about scarcity is to understand something else. I'm going to try to, kind of, keep this succinct because I don't want to go too highbrow on psychology stuff. Scarcity is a really powerful cognitive bias that we all have - what it's called is called loss aversion. So in its very simple form, loss aversion is - I want to kind of say this correctly - the pain we feel in losing the opportunity of a $100 discount is greater than the happiness we feel of winning $100. So the pain we feel of losing something versus gaining the same thing of equivalent value is always greater. So in effect, what we're trying to do is we're trying to protect ourselves from losing versus gaining the same amount. We're always trying to do that. So, this could go back to a lot of other things like survival. What we have is helping us to survive currently. So, they talk about survive and then thrive - not thrive and survive. Survival is 'Let's keep what we currently have before we try to go source new things'. So just remember, that's what loss aversion is. And loss aversion is really what makes scarcity powerful.

Panos:

That's a little bit like FOMO, right? Isn't that, sort of, like, the principle behind it - the fear of missing out on something?

Andy:

Yeah, because what you're fearing is losing the opportunity to gain and that's, kind of, triggering, I guess, a bit of loss aversion. It's kind of the flip of loss aversion. Basically, I don't want to lose what I currently have. The way to flip that is to say, "No, now you're losing the opportunity at massive gains or whatever it may be." So the keyword is loss. It is focusing on, like, what people can lose or save - helping people keep what they currently have. This goes right into price increases. So the first one we'll talk about is price increases. These always work. Everyone, I think, can agree that price increases work. Why do they work? Well, because there's scarcity around a deadline. At a certain point in time, the price is going to go up, so you're going to lose the opportunity to get the price at a lower rate and this triggers, kind of, scarcity and loss aversion of 'We don't want to miss the opportunity to get the price at a lower rate. We don't want to lose $10 when that price goes up' because that's how we look at it - we're going to lose money. So, that's the reason that they work - that's kind of the psychology behind it. What I suggest people to do is leverage price increases by creating anywhere from three to four to six price increases in your schedule because they're natural built-in scarcity plays. What's also very important is there's a date. So, the way that scarcity triggers is there has to be a date in which this opportunity goes away. If there's not a date--

Panos:

They create urgency, basically - right?

Andy:

Yeah, there has to be a date with urgency against it. And so, these are natural built-in things and they're also great because you're not actually discounting. A lot of people say, "I don't like to discount." Okay. Understood. Well, then you should probably create more than two or one price increase. Because of price increase schedule, very few times, you're going to get a bunch of pushback from runners. Once you set your schedule and start to stay consistent with what you said, then people understand, earmark that date, and they'll get signed up before it - no discount needed. Just use language like, "Save $10. Beat the price increase. Don't lose this opportunity to save." So these are types of language we're using because of how loss aversion works. Another thing with price increases is you want to start marketing your price increases on all your channels, at least, 10 days before the increase. Why? This ensures that you can get messaging to the market so that they know - you're building scarcity in them, right? You're actually building it out and getting it in their minds, "On this certain date, this opportunity goes away." So, to just send out one email or do it for a day, you're not saturating your audience with scarcity and you need to do it much sooner. Oftentimes, I see it too late. We'll probably send five to six emails about a price increase in advance for a couple of reasons. One, only 20% of our email list opens the email. So, a lot of people aren't even seeing the email about price increases. So how many do we need to send? I'd say, between five and seven, kind of, where we've gotten the scarcity message out about our price increase. And we also do it with Facebook ads and with social posts more than, maybe, some people might think.

Panos:

You mentioned earlier about this perception that price increases or pricing schedules might be viewed as giving a discount. Actually, I would say that it's almost, like, the flipside of that. I would say that having a schedule where the price increases-- people don't have to register at the very inflated price of the last tier, right? What that does is push people to register earlier at a price that could have been your standard price, so to speak - right? So essentially, rather than consider the cheaper prices as a discount, I will probably think of the late signup prices as just a super premium that even if no one pays, I'm happy for them to register earlier at, sort of, like, my equivalent standard price because I'm creating that urgency.

Andy:

Right. Yeah, and you're creating that momentum. When event directors are out there trying to figure out how many medals they need to buy and they're trying to, kind of, figure out their finances and map those out, it's always nice for them to have more signups early on. So even if you're getting it at a lower rate, it's not a discount necessarily so you're not, like, turning into a discounting brand perceptually and you're getting people in the door earlier and sooner by leveraging scarcity and leveraging the psychological principle that works against that price increase. So, it's definitely a good thing. Anytime I sit down with an event, look at it, and it's an event that doesn't like to discount, that's the first thing I look at - like, what are we doing with price increases and how are we leveraging those? Sometimes, we only have one price. Then, immediately, when we implement this-- and I saw this at Active - they did a study with the Chicago Marathon. Not only did the price increase generate more registrations, but it generated more revenue because their average price for the event went up. Let's say you have two prices - $60 and $70. If you have a price increase, you can start at $45 and end at $80. And, like, we know people are going to sign up closer to the event - the late stragglers. So, the margin you can make also from price increases also goes up. It's not only just the quantity of registrations that goes up, but the margin that you can make can also go up because you've done it over the course of the schedule.

Panos:

Yeah, I can certainly believe that. I think Runsignup had some similar data on this. I mean, there's a reason why pricing tiers and early birds and stuff, on average, work. And there are lots of bargain hunters out there including in races, right? Someone who sees the early bird might think, "Oh, what an amazing opportunity!" Right? They're thinking, "I'm saving all that much money!" They don't have any absolute sense of what this race is worth or whatever. Some people get triggered by thinking of buying something at, like, $45 when the ultimate price - which they presume is *the* price - is, like, $80. So, they're, sort of, like, feeling happy for themselves that they saved $35. They didn't save anything - they registered at the full $45 price point - but they feel like they're getting a bargain out of this.

Andy:

Yeah, they're saving money. That's one of the ways that you can use this, I think - have several price increases set up in advance of your event, scale those up, and then leverage those marketing messages within 10 days out - sometimes, you could even do 14 days out - from your price increase so that you can further, kind of, get this message around to the market.

Panos:

I guess the one thing about scarcity - and I've seen it with a couple of brands - is that if you create scarcity publicly and say 'There are only 100 spots left'-- I see lots of events do that and I think everyone should do that when you're down to your, like, last 10% or 5% of registrations - be public about that. But sometimes, I think events might be using that - and brands do it more generally - as a ploy, tactically. And sometimes, they go out and say 'Oh, there are only 100 spots left' and then they say 'Oh, we're extending this limited time offer'. Then, they do this two to three times and you would be thinking, "Come on, how much of a limited time offer was this to begin with?" And you felt a little bit cheated by-- you, sort of, like, see what's happening behind the curtains a little bit.

Andy:

Yeah. I think that's a great point. Scarcity, as I said before, can be triggered on quantity or time or both. So in that case, that would be a quantity scarcity play. So if it's a 'There are only 100 spots left', I would use that sparingly and I would stay consistent with the timing in which that goes away. I don't love to use that one too much because I feel, like, that one gets overplayed. Like you said, consumers are smart, runners are smart. Like, when they see you say '100 spots left' and then somehow, magically, 500 spots open after that because the race director sees 'Oh, that was great. We got a big push!' Like, you can't do that often at all because consumers will learn that you're using this tactic in a way that's not honest and not straightforward. It feels funny, right? I would suggest if you really have a certain amount of spots left, then promote that. But if you're using that and you're inflating that number, I think that one can go sideways pretty quickly with your audience. Yeah, I really do. I think I would use it very sparingly and I would use it towards the end of your event so that it's true - like, you really are getting close to spots not being there. The other one that I would focus on using is time-based scarcity. So, it would be for all your promotions to make sure people feel as though you're being honest. The first and best thing you can do is make sure that every single promotion that you run has an end date - this is incredibly important. I see, sometimes, people will extend their promotion or extend their price increase. I would also be very careful to do that very often because it gets into this territory we're talking about which is 'Was this ever really going to end on this date? Did I always have more time?' And I think that'll devalue the future promotion. So for us, we want to make them feel the pain of losing the opportunity - the very thing loss aversion is trying to protect. We want to make them feel that pain and the way we do that is to truly end it on the day we said that we were going to end it. So if it ends on Friday and somebody tries to use that code on Saturday, that won't happen because we want them to feel that pain. Then, when they feel that pain which is the thing that they're trying to avoid, they'd say, "Wow, they're actually legit. The next time they put a promo out, like, I should probably sign up in the window that they said because I'm going to miss my opportunity, and I don't want to miss my opportunity to save." So that's one of the biggest things - try not to extend and make sure you stay consistent with your dates of when these promotions end. You can use countdown timers, clocks, or whatever you want but just keep it consistent and make sure it actually ends and they feel the pain if they didn't get it.

Panos:

Yeah, absolutely. Whenever I drive to my parents-in-law, there's a little store next to them - it was, like, a furniture store - and my wife and I have this joke-- we, sort of, drive past it and it's always on a closing down sale, like, perpetually for the last four or five years. So, you can imagine and get a little bit cynical about that kind of thing - like 'We're, like, shutting down. These things have to go' but they keep replenishing stock all the time. Moving on to our last trigger now - likability. What is that about?

Andy:

Likability is we simply like to buy stuff from people, products, or brands that we like. There are a couple of things that increase likability. So, we like people who are like us - this is just by nature. So, people that look like us, people that act like us, we just naturally like and assign more likability, you could say, to those types of people. An example would be-- what's taught in sales is to mimic your customer or your prospect. Mimicking is really increasing likability because you're trying to mimic their actions, you're trying to seem like them, you're trying to act like them, which in their mind would increase their likability for you, which would increase your level of influence. So that's one piece. Then, the other piece is-- what determines likability is positive interactions with somebody or with an organization. So, just positive and consistent interactions with them will increase your trust and your likability of them. Likability is also increased by people who want to help - people that want to help with different initiatives, brands that want to help with donations. If we see that there's a brand that has a lot of content and messaging around a particular donation effort or fundraising effort, we will start to like that brand more because of the values that they have and what they're aligned with - so, that'll increase likeability. And then, praising - we like people who compliment us. This kind of ties back to the first one - reciprocity. They don't even necessarily need to be genuine to have the effect of likeability. So compliments-- when you're thinking about events and brands, you have to be careful. But how can an event use this? I'd say if your event has a likeable personality, let's say an influencer, somebody that looks like your customer, or somebody that your customer like - maybe their coach, their trainer, maybe your running coach or triathlon coach who is already perceived as likeable via their Instagram following, by their connectivity with that particular audience - try to work with that person because the more personalities like that who can align with your brand, the more likability is going to come over to you within your brand. So think about those influencers and those likeable personalities that are already out there. They might already be working with you. So how can you do more content opportunities with them? Maybe, have them share Instagram stories or content series where they show people how to work out during downtime, like a pandemic or something like that, where you can take that personality and, kind of, assign it to your brand. Other ways include, like, giving compliments to your audience, like, on social media. A lot of times I see runners tagging events and doing Medal Mondays. If you have a social media person, which I think most events have, like, provide a heart to their Instagram posts - like, double-like the posts and say 'Great job! Great work!' If you're tagged in by a runner who's doing something that's aspirational, like, come back at him, provide him a compliment, then they'll immediately assign more likability to your brand. Like, when a brand reaches down to a consumer, it's really powerful especially if they're complimenting them - don't make it seem disingenuous, right? I mean, just be genuine about it. If they're losing weight or doing something, then just drop a post in there with a couple of emojis and compliment them, and I think that'll help the likability for your brand. If you act like your customers, the stuff you're posting on social media, this goes back to the tone and the brand-- like, when you see a social media page or an event page on, let's say, Facebook, that is promoting content like running, training, and stuff that's native to that audience, that's going to increase likability because you're telling your audience, "We're like you. We know you. We know what you like and we're putting that content out. We're not just putting stuff that we think is good." So really, just align your content pillars whether it's 'On Tuesdays, we do training videos' or 'On Thursdays, we do motivational quotes'. Like, make sure that content is stuff your audience actually likes. By nature, if you're doing that, then it's increasing your likability because they see that you are talking to them - right? You're speaking to them and not to somebody else. Then, a great easy way on social for likeability is just resharing their posts - like, if they post something about training or something like that, or even something about your event, you can just reshare their post, you can reshare their story - which is a cool thing to do. Like, if they do an Instagram story, you can reshare that and that's going to, kind of, increase their likability for your event. So, those are some simple ways. A lot of these things are on social media because these things involve interacting with consumers directly. But those are a couple of ways that your team can work on for likeability.

Panos:

Okay, so let me end on-- hopefully, this is not a very controversial question. Speaking of familiarity and, sort of, mimicking your audience and aligning yourself with your audience and runners, one thing that came to mind is politics. What do you think about events getting political and actually taking up causes? Let's say you're in a part of the world which is blue or red or whatever. Does it pay? Is it risky to just go out and take a position or a stance on things and try and make your event, sort of, overtly political in some things that your audience and your community care about? Or is that too dangerous of a strategy?

Andy:

I can't speak on the worldview on politics. I can speak, kind of, on the US. If I'm inside of that organization and I'm in those marketing meetings thinking about a political statement or stance, like, I would avoid it simply because it's extremely divided right now in probably a lot of places in the world - definitely in the US. When you're talking about political statements, when you're talking about taking sides on political stuff-- like, your audience is already so divided. Also, what I see on social is so divisive and a lot of the platforms are, unfortunately, using the divisiveness to serve more divisiveness via their algorithm to those same folks. So, I think it's, kind of, a toxic situation with how divisive it is and what a lot of these online platforms are doing to perpetuate that. So, if I'm an event, I would say, "Is it important to take a stand for what you believe in? Yes. How much of that do you share from a political standpoint?" I think you have to be very careful - I would err on the side of extreme caution - and I would really try to focus on things that we all can align behind. I think it's maybe easier to do that with events because if you have a charity you're working with, that's something we all can get behind and something that we're not going to have a discussion about that's going to create division. Remember that you're trying to create more unity and really bring joy to your audience at a time that's really confusing. So, I'd say I would avoid that and I'd focus on some of those other things that are important to you that can bring people together.

Panos:

Yeah, I think I agree with that - no politics. It's super dangerous. I mean, what can happen is you can get really close to the 10% of your audience who feels very passionate about this. You're playing a very, very risky game - navigating that stuff and staying consistent - it can snowball into something really terrible really quickly. But I was interested in having your take on this because, in my mind, some of that falls under likability, right? I mean, you're saying that you want to mimic your audience, you want to, sort of, like, behave as they do and get down to their level. And people often feel very passionately about politics. Events are local and certain communities feel very differently than other communities about some politics. So, it might be tempting for people to get down there, but I agree with you - it's better to stay out of that. Okay, we've exhausted all six triggers. I think there have been so many tips from you there. It's been really great and I thank you very, very much for all this. How can people reach out to you, to EventGrow, if they need any help with their marketing, with their strategizing, and their promoting of the race? How can they do that?

Andy:

Well, first, let me just say - thanks, Panos, for having me on the show, I appreciate it. I love what you're doing here with the show and covering these different topics. So, thank you for that. People can find me via marketing@eventgrow.com - that's the email that you can reach me at. I'm always open to talking to new events about potentially helping them grow their race. If you're looking for a marketing company to help you with a part of your marketing or all of your marketing - especially digital marketing - then we should definitely chat. EventGrow.com is the website. We work specifically, right now, mostly with endurance events. So, it's a space I've been in, I understand it well, and we know how to speak that language. So, if you're interested, shoot me an email and we can chat.

Panos:

Awesome. And hopefully, we can get you back on the podcast soon to talk about Facebook ads and other stuff. I know you're very, very good at that. So, maybe, do us a favor, come back, and share some tips with us on running successful Facebook ads from all your experience working with events.

Andy:

Absolutely. I'd love to come back. There are several topics. That would definitely be one of them that I would love to jump into.

Panos:

Awesome. Okay, Andy, thank you very, very much for everything today. It's been super enlightening to go into all of this stuff. Very interesting topic - the psychology of marketing, persuasion, and selling to people. I want to thank you again for your time. We're gonna see you soon.

Andy:

Thank you, Panos. Thanks for the time!

Panos:

And I want to thank everyone else for listening in and we'll see you guys on our next podcast! I hope you enjoyed this episode on marketing psychology with my guest, EventGrow CEO Andy Reilly. You can find more resources on anything and everything related to race directing on our website RaceDirectorsHQ.com. You can also share your questions about marketing, sponsorships, or anything else in our Facebook group, Race Directors Hub. If you enjoyed this episode, please don't forget to subscribe or leave a review on your favorite player and, also, check out the podcast back-catalogue for more great content like this. Until our next episode, take care and keep putting on amazing races.