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4 Ways to Capture Me & Make Me a Buyer Forever

by Steve Woodruff  |  
February 3, 2011

In chess, there's only one way to win: Capture your opponent's pieces. Marketing is similar, because, unless you capture people with your message and your value proposition, you won't win. So how would you capture me, and make me a buyer?

1. Capture my attention. First, you have to be noticed. You need to engage my faculties, my senses, my front-of-mind interest. You have massive competition for my attention, so this is where creativity and daring are required. Giving away $20 Amazon gift cards for $10? That garnered a ton of attention for Living Social. Offering 5% off this Wednesday only? Yawn ...

2. Capture my imagination. You need to engage my mind, and make me think and dream. Use a compelling illustration that will stick, or start a train of thought that builds its own momentum. Don't tell me about a three-tiered architecture that will create efficient data exchange. Make me imagine how I can find an answer to an obscure question in 10 milliseconds.

3. Capture my affections. We all know that engaging the emotions is the most powerful way to bring people along. So don't merely explain, tell a story. Tell me about someone like me, someone whose life has been changed. Yes, the use of video in social media is a cool thing. I don't need the technical details---just show the video of the discovery of Ted Williams. Even though that story continues to have twists and turns, it strikes us at a deep emotional level.

4. Capture my self-interest. All of the above doesn't yet move me to action. You need to clearly explain the WIIFM (What's In It For Me). I'm not going to act unless I know why I should. If it's only because of something you want, I'm going to set up an elaborate defense. I will, however, take action for something I want---you need to put a spotlight on that, and point it out to me.

If you're a marketer, or a public speaker (yes, that includes preachers), you need to structure your communications to touch all four of these "captures." Grab your audience in the first 15 seconds. Move their minds and hearts immediately after. Make the call to action clear and compelling. If you want to capture the king and queen of my assent, then you need to neutralize the pawns and castles that fill my board each day. These four moves will go a long way toward achieving the goal.

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Steve Woodruff is the world's only Clarity Therapist. He connects people with their purpose, their message, and with other people in order to create new business opportunities. He writes at the

Steve is an unusual hybrid of conceptualizer, strategist, marketer, analyst, wordsmith, semi-techie, and all-around decent fellow, except when there's bad coffee or lousy wine.

Steve can also be found on Twitter, LinkedIn.

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  • by Nick Stamoulis Thu Feb 3, 2011 via blog

    I think you need to add a number 5: Listen to Me!

    Sometimes marketers get so wrapped up in their own message or product that they forget to listen to what the consumers want. Yes, it may be the greatest thing since sliced bread (as the old adage goes), but if you haven't paid attention to what people want/need/are asking for, they will never pay attention to you. Listen to the praise and criticism alike and you'll be able to better hone in on what to say and how to say it turn potential consumers into buyers.

  • by Georgia Christian Fri Feb 4, 2011 via blog

    Creatively put Steve, thanks for the post! You really get into the mind of the buyer here, especially when you talk about capturing the imagination, it's great - you absolutely have to get people dreaming and thinking. @Nick - I think your point is very relevant too.

  • by Steve Woodruff Fri Feb 4, 2011 via blog

    Being in a Marketing Profs conference this week, I'm especially reminded how crucial this is for speakers. You have about 1-2 minutes to really grab me. After that, it's going to be an uphill battle....

  • by Chief Alchemist Fri Feb 4, 2011 via blog

    Agreed Nick! However I believe that focusing on motivation(s) should be #1, not #5 ;) Trying to effectively attend to #1 - 4 isn't really possible without have a damn good idea what the motivational target is, eh? And that comes from listening!

    I'd like to add that in some regards #1 almost seem comical. Is this where we're at, "extreme marketing"? Yes, there's a lot of noise but does that dictate things must escalate to nuclear volume? (As seemed to be implied.) When in doubt, shout? Really?!? Correct me if I'm wrong, the object is quality attention, not more of it. Yes, that requires creativity (and maybe I'm parsing words too much) but "daring" (as well as the example) just sounds a bit sloppy to me.

    But again, such focus is all a function of determining motivation, which as noted, is missing from this list.

  • by Bob Taylor Fri Feb 4, 2011 via blog

    Great list. The only challenge is; #1. It is real easy to get someone's attention when you are giving someone a 50% off deal. I could do that with bags of ice in Alaska. BUT, when you cannot give away the store for attention-what can people do? Most times it is the promise of value. It can be successful, IF it is delivered in a compelling way-as in the scenario of the speakers at your conference, you have only a limited time to capture them.

    As a marketing person, THAT is the challenge in telling a client story-and keeping the prospect listening. (I am going to pretend that Mr. Woodruff is in every audience as I prep)

    Great job Steve,

  • by Steve Woodruff Fri Feb 4, 2011 via blog

    The Amazon example was just one of many ways to stand out from the crowd - and yes, it's extreme. But the point is - in some way small or large, you have to get my mind fixed in your direction. That can be as simple as a dramatic story at the start of a presentation (vastly underutilized by speakers), a great headline on an article, an eye-grabbing picture, or one of a thousand other ways to get my normal flow of thought interrupted.

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