Dr. Glenn Livingston, who holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, has to be one of the most prolific internet marketing guys around.
You could probably get the equivalent of a Ph.D. in marketing and psychology just by studying the 100s of emails, articles, videos, etc., he’s put out over the years (and, of course, actually implementing what you learn!).
He’s been a highly sought after marketing consultant, working with some of the biggest companies on the planet… started and sold a very successful PPC agency… and put out the Total Conversion Code and Make Them Buy Club (sadly, neither of which are available any more), two of the best conversion focused course I’ve come across.
But what he’s best known for is market research. And, in this interview, we’re going to talk about how Glenn used market research, particularly researching his hyper-responsive customers, to create a successful new Info Product.
You’re well-known for your expertise in market research, an area that many marketers, particularly online, don’t pay much attention to. Can you share with our readers a bit about why, when it comes to marketing, you’ve focused so much on the market research?
Most marketers don’t pay much attention to research because research isn’t sexy. When people are starting out on a project they’re almost always utterly IN LOVE with their baby.
They want the market to want what they want it to want…
To match the entrepreneur’s fantasy.
But it’s very rare the market wants exactly what you want it to want…
So research is painful. It kills your fantasy.
I think online marketers in particular are prone to fantasy because of the allure of making electrons buzz around the internet and eventually wind up as dollars in your bank account.
Supposedly, all you’ll have to do is sit behind your computer pushing some buttons—never really having to interact with the customers—and out pops money.
We’re all prone to this narcissistic power trip, but the reality is VERY far from this picture. The reality is that your initial idea is a starting point for exploring the market, looking for unmet needs, and crafting a unique selling proposition + truly irresistible offer… which will inevitably wind up being MUCH different than your initial concept if it is to succeed.
I’ll give you an example.
My first foray—and epic failure!—into online marketing had to do with an idea I was nursing since graduate school…
I’d written my dissertation on creativity and dreams. To make it interesting, I developed some software to help people catalog their dreams, organize the symbols which appeared in them…and prompt them with key questions which would trigger the associations that would ultimately unlock both the meaning of the dream AND a way they could use it to solve real problems in their lives.
I actually used the program myself and was totally in love with it.
But… after spending about $50,000 trying to market it over the course of 5 years, I finally went back and started to talk to prospective customers who were searching for things like “Dream Interpretation,” “Dream Meaning,” etc….
Do you know what I learned?
The market, in general, absolutely did NOT want to catalog their dreams or do any work to understand what they meant. What they were looking for were either psychic interpretations (e.g., my dream must be a supernatural message from another world)—OR— someone to just TELL them what their dream meant.
Accordingly, the only people making money in that space were selling psychic interpretations.
I wanted to smack myself in the head with a spatula because I should have known this from the outset. The very nature of dreams is that they’re disguised to protect people from the uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and impulses they contain.
So of course the masses want to attribute those thoughts, feelings, and impulses to other people who would “take responsibility” for the dreams in their head.
Even if you don’t understand or agree with the psychology behind why people don’t want to interpret their own dreams, the take-home point is that I could have saved $50,000 and FIVE YEARS of pain by talking to my customers FIRST…
Or even just utilizing the online techniques I teach people now to gather intelligence on what the market wants BEFORE you spend a penny.
And that would have been a LOT less painful than all the money and time I wasted pursuing the dream in MY head instead of connecting to the conversation in MY CUSTOMER’s head.
Research moves up reality’s timeline so you don’t waste resources on your own fantasy.
It protects you from the spatula.
So market research can help prevent marketers from wasting a lot of time and money trying to sell products or services there’s no market for. Now I’d like to ask you about another side to research that has been quite successful at generating more profits for you and your clients.
This is when you find a market where there are buyers and use research to identify the people you call the “hyper-responsives.” Can you describe hyper-responsive buyers/customers for our readers and share why you believe it’s important for a business to identify them?
Approximately half your profits come from only ONE in TWO THOUSAND visitors… and whether that “1 in 2000th” customer goes with you or your competition is often the key difference between a very profitable business and a mediocre one. Sometimes it’s the difference between success and failure.
Let me walk you through the math to prove this to you:
- THE 80/20 RULE: 80% of profits come from 20% of customers.
- THE 80/20 RULE SQUARED: You can apply the 80/20 rule to the TOP 20% of customers too. Without getting too caught up in the math (e.g., 80% x 80% = 64% and 20% x 20% = 4%, etc)… about 5% of buyers drive HALF the profits.
- THE 80/20 RULE SQUARED ON THE INTERNET: 5% of BUYERS may drive HALF your profits, but only 1% OF VISITORS BECOME BUYERS on most sites. 1% x 5% = 0.01 x 0.05 = 0.0005 … or ONE OUT OF TWO THOUSAND VISITORS.
But you really don’t have to understand (or agree with) my math. Just entertain the idea that a small percent of special visitors drive a large percent of your profits. Then learn to identify and understand these hyper-responsive customers and you’ll have a blueprint for success.
My experience with hyper-responsive customers is that they leave clues all across the Internet…
- If you send them a survey, they provide long, passionate narratives detailing their questions, needs, and wishes for vendors to fill unique market gaps.
- You can find similar behavior on blogs and forums.
- If their needs aren’t being met, they’ll fill out surveys at a higher rate. This means you can compare one market to another based on the survey take rate. (This used to be easier to do in PPC… you could just put up an ad and send it to a survey. Now you’ve got to put a whole site together first. For an example of the format I use, see ScrewYourDiet.com. The opt-in page after they click the button on the landing page IS actually a survey).
- They’ll check boxes that say they’re having a hard time finding the answer to their problems elsewhere.
- The “conversation in their head” is distinct from (and more intense) than the rest of the market. For example, people looking to get into Alpaca Ranching are often interested in tax advantages. Hyper-responsive people looking to get into Alpaca Ranching want to talk to several seasoned CPAs (certified public accountants) to find out the ramifications of the changes to Section 179 of the IRS code next year, and the specific limitations and depreciation schedule allowed for alpaca purchases made before Dec 31. (Or something of similar complexity which is reflective of the amount of time and energy they put into thinking about the problem, researching the solution, and making a decision.)
- They have huge BS detectors and are more likely to complain vociferously if they smell anything like “hype.”
When you identify these people and analyze their needs, language, and buying objections, you can orient all your marketing materials to them.
Of course, you also cover the basics for less-responsive buyers, but when you address the needs of hyper-responsive buyers, you look MUCH stronger to casual shoppers too!
I think many people may be surprised to hear you say that “when you address the needs of hyper-responsive buyers, you look MUCH stronger to casual shoppers too!”
A lot of marketing tries to appeal to the masses because business owners don’t want to risk missing out on, or offending, any potential prospect. How can addressing the needs of the hyper-responsives make you more appealing to a broader, or more casual, audience?
Oh, that’s simple, but hardly anyone thinks it through.
See, because the issues in the market are so important to the hyper-responsive customer, they spend a lot more time researching the solutions.
In fact, I find they often know a lot more about the market than the vendors themselves!
So basically, they do your research for you and lay out the path to convince the rest of the market.
Let’s clarify with a specific example:
Suppose you’re selling Radon Mitigation systems.
Radon is a deadly, invisible gas which causes lung cancer. Before you can sell a home in most states, the home has to pass a Radon inspection. The level must be measured below a specific number, which varies from state to state.
The casual home buyer just wants to know that the home passed the state’s required level…
But the hyper-responsive customer will explain to you that Radon can actually cause lung cancer at levels WAY BELOW the state’s standard.
Now, if you present a marketing message to hyper-responsive customers that makes it clear your Radon Mitigation system not only brings the level down below the state’s criteria (so the purchase/sale can go through)…
But brings the levels down below HARMFUL levels so your children won’t die of lung cancer…
Do you think ONLY the hyper-responsive buyer would respond more strongly to this message?
Of course not! The casual buyer will “wake up” because you presented critical facts to take better care of him…
Facts that your competitors aren’t bothering to present…
The point is, by identifying, talking to, and thoroughly researching what hyper-responsives want in your market, you usually discover “Point of Difference” benefits to sell your product to everyone.
(A “Point of Difference” benefit stands in contrast to a “Price of Entry” benefit. Price of Entry benefits are the things every vendor must supply in the market to even be considered in the running for the sale. The Point of Difference is really what gets people to buy)
Do you want a home at the state’s dangerous radon limit—that might give your kids lung cancer? Or do you want one that truly protects?
Another humorous example of this has to do with selling water filtration systems. A hyper-responsive in that market once told me that the state has an “acceptable level” of human feces they will allow in the water supply.
“There is NO acceptable level of human feces in my water!!!” he said.
OK, this has obviously degraded to talking about drinking human feces, so it must now be your turn.
Wow, never had to segue from talking about feces in water before! 🙂 Okay, let’s try this… you recently launched a new product, about joint ventures, that you say came from doing hyper-responsive research on your own hyper-responsive buyers of your hyper-responsive marketing research system. (Hope everyone follows that!)
That sounds like a great case study to help our readers really understand how hyper-responsive research works. Can you share that story with us?
So, I’ve got a continuity club which teaches people hyper-responsive research methods.
I’ve actually developed over FIVE YEAR’s worth of monthly lessons. That’s 60 months… a LOT of content.
I also have a partner in another business who first came to me as a fan of this work. He and I were talking about what a shame it was that most of the 60 months of very good content was going to waste…
Because only a few hundred people get beyond month #18.
My partner was looking for a side project, so I suggested he package up some of that content for sale separately. He said, “But we can’t just decide willy nilly. We need to do the hyper-responsive research!”
So we did the research on the best buyers with the most hyper-responsive engagement.
Turned out, what they really wanted to know more about was how I got so many powerful Joint Ventures.
This was a big surprise to me, because I really never thought of myself as “The Joint Venture Guy”…
In fact, I rose to fame by researching and profiting in about 17 niche markets via paid advertising. Then I started and sold a PPC agency.
I had mostly eschewed joint ventures because I didn’t like the “reciprocal promotion” good ol’ boys philosophy…
But when I looked back on the last ten years, I realized that I actually had made a lot of money from joint ventures. Here’s the list from the sales copy of Joint Venture Fast Track:
- I convinced Perry Marshall (a very prominent figure in the internet marketing industry with almost a half million followers)to promote literally EVERY project I ever asked him to—year after year—for almost a decade! This resulted not only in tremendous profit, but enough fame in this lucrative industry to support me for the rest of my life if I so chose…
- My wife and I JV’d with a former executive to sell more than a million dollars of consulting services to a Fortune 500 company we were having trouble cracking ourselves…
- I created, built, and sold a 21-person internet marketing agency with a JV partner who managed ALL the clients and labor so I could focus on sales…
- Another partner pays me a hefty percentage of the VERY high hourly business coaching rates for clients I send him, with virtually NO supervision required on my part…
- Then there’s the guy who provides a unique marketing research service to my clients with very little hand-holding (I retain a healthy percentage of profits there too)…
- And the partner who gifted me twenty percent equity in his new business and paid my wife $10,000/mo in consulting income from the $400,000 he raised in just a few months thereafter…
- I’ve got thousands in ongoing monthly passive income from joint venturing to promote other people’s continuity programs…
So my partner Yoav analyzed the research and found out exactly what my hyper-responsive buyers wanted to know.
A lot of it had to do with creating EVERGREEN joint ventures so all the work that goes into getting a good partner wouldn’t be wasted…
And the fastest ways to find JVs in an industry where you don’t have a name, a list, or any money to really get started.
But they were also interested in the non-standard types of joint ventures. Everyone knows the “will you mail for me” approach…but there are 7 other JV types which can be equally, if not more, lucrative.
So I pulled in three other super-JV-experienced people and we created the product.
Anyway, this story is a perfect example of how even someone with my level of sophistication and experience could be clueless about what my market REALLY wants next.
Honestly, I would’ve thought they wanted advanced research techniques. Or to learn how to profit from sophisticated regression modeling techniques. Or something to do with integrating research and copywriting…
But they wanted my take on Joint Ventures. Who knew!?
Want to learn more from Glenn? You can get access to a number of his free marketing cheat sheets, audios and videos at his site, http://www.FreeMarketingAudios.com.
Read other Crazy Egg articles by Adam Kreitman.