Business Tools

Motivational Marketing: 3 Easy Steps to Get Your Best Customers to Take Action


  Jon Goldman

By Jon Goldman

What’s your biggest asset?

Careful. Most people in the auto accessory business tell us it’s their specialty parts and equipment. Wrong! Your biggest and most powerful asset is your marketing! It’s what gets people to take action and to turn lookie-loos into buyers. It’s the engine that drives your business.

And, like it or not, we’re all in the business of trying to motivate people to take action.

Whether you want prospects to come to your website, enter your store, order a specialty product or sign up for a service, we’re always trying to get people to take advantage of an offer. Some do it better than others.

In fact, I’ve spent millions of dollars learning how to do it the right way—and the wrong way. I’m about to share those findings with you right now in this special article so you don’t have to waste the money I did and you can begin to turn around your own marketing.

The problem is that it’s more difficult than ever to get people to take action, especially in this economy.

Budgets are getting squeezed. Consumer confidence remains at an all-time low. Dollar for dollar, income levels are no better than they were in 1969. Car and truck owners are more cautious about where and when they spend their money. Customers are much more selective about how they respond to offers online and offline.

Yet, you need to continue to find ways to grow profits and get your customers to take action.

Fortunately, I have some advice that will help.

Let me begin by asking you a question: If I sold hamburgers, what would be the best way to sell them?

Most of our new clients say they would try to offer the best hamburger or the cheapest hamburger. Or they would add a secret sauce or other features to their burger to make them more attractive.

I see people make this mistake all the time.

They begin by thinking about the cool, innovative new product that just came out that they want to offer. I hear it time and time again. “Well Jon, we got this great deal on an accessory that no one knows about yet and we need to find ways to tell people about it.”

Or, here’s another discussion I hear: “Sales are down. We need to come up with a promotion to increase them right away!”

What’s wrong with this approach? The problem is that most people begin with the wrong end in mind. Always begin by identifying your market first—not the product. If I want to sell hamburgers, I would only want one thing: a starving crowd.

Give me a starving crowd, and I’ll sell hamburgers all day long.

So, the first step in creating motivational marketing is to first identify what I call your “hungry fish.” Start by asking the question, “Who?” Who are your hungry fish? Who wants and needs your products the most. Who is most hungry?

Then, you’ll want to figure out what are their biggest problems and what are they most passionate about?

Are they worried about getting another year or two out of their car? Do they want to stand out from every other Honda Civic owner or Ford F-150 truck owner? Are they passionate about restoring ’66 Mustangs? Do they just want to look good?

Once you answer those questions you can then build your marketing around solving those problems or appealing to their passions. Why? Because you’ll never be able to get more people to take action until you understand what really drives them.

In other words, motivational marketing is about tapping into what motivates your hungry fish.

Here’s a great example. Several years ago you may recall the anti-litter campaign, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute,” with a cute little owl. There were also TV ads with a Native American shedding a tear as he saw the discarded trash on what would have been a beautiful hillside. But in a strong, proud state like Texas those ads didn’t work.

The litter along its roadways cost the state roughly $25 million a year and that figure was climbing at an annual rate of 15%. Meanwhile, the state just didn’t have the money to spend on picking up trash. So they tried other ad campaigns. They tried appealing to Texans' self-interest with slogans, such as “Get Involved Now. Pollutions Hurts All of Us.” They also tried explaining how much litter cost the state. They tried sex appeal in their ads and even that didn’t work. Fines didn’t work either.

What finally worked? An innovative ad campaign entitled, “Don’t Mess with Texas!” It was perfect because it appealed to one of Texans' emotional hot buttons: pride. The Dallas Cowboys' Ed "Too-Tall” Jones served as a spokesman. So did Willy Nelson.

Within three months of the launch, 73% of people recognized the ad and were able to recall it. And within one year, litter decreased 29%. During the first five years, roadside litter decreased 72%.

Why did this ad campaign work when others didn’t? Because the advertisers took the time to drill down and identify their target market. It was mostly single, young men who drove pickups. They didn’t care about the fines or how much it cost the state to pick up their litter. But they also learned that these same young men were proud of their state and would most likely listen to iconic bad-boy celebrities, such as Willy Nelson and an All-Pro defensive lineman from the Cowboys.

There are three very important takeaways from this campaign.

First, the ad only worked when the advertisers asked questions about whom they were marketing to, as I just mentioned.

Second, they created an authentic story. The advertisers didn’t try to be too clever. They came up with an authentic story to tell. We spend a lot of time with our clients trying to determine their story so they can tell others what makes them different. Every business has a story that explains what it does, how it does it and what makes it special. And some of the best stories in the accessory business are the before-and-after stories you can tell in videos, testimonials, pictures and articles.

Third, they communicated the message in a way that would appeal to their target market. I call it “tribal language.” What you’re looking for is language to connect with your market that shows you share their values and goals.

But most marketers never connect with their hungry fish because they never bother to drill down and truly understand what motivates them. Once you do, you can create the next step in the process: irresistible bait.

The bait you offer is your best opportunity to hook your hungry fish. How? Offer them something so irresistible they would be foolish to pass up. There are basically three types of bait:

  • Free stuff.
  • Free services.
  • Free information.

Generally speaking, free stuff and free services work best as irresistible bait in B2C markets. Free information, such as how-to guides with titles like, “The Top 7 Things You Can Do to Increase the Life of Your Fleet Vehicles” work best in B2B markets. They’re easy and inexpensive to produce and if it’s good content, your prospects will appreciate its value. As a result, they’ll be more likely to do business with you in the future.

Free services work, too. These are additional services that you can bundle into an offer to make it more attractive. Examples include a free trial, a free 20-point assessment or free installation with a purchase.

We’ve also seen very good success offering free stuff. One of our clients offered its corporate customers free tire mounting and installation at their office as part of a special promotion that included an image of a rubber tree with tires growing from its branches. The marketing talked about the features of the new tires and encouraged prospects to call and order their new tires, unless they would rather grow their own tires from a rubber tree. Every 10 days they sent a new promotion. One talked about the history of the rubber tree. Another talked about how to care for one. And finally, they hand-delivered a 1-ft.-high rubber tree. Result: 40% of the recipients called for an appointment and purchased new tires.

Another client increased its response by 10 times on one promotion campaign. Typically, they got 120 responses on a standard campaign. But our campaign increased response to 1,111—an 826% increase!

How did we do it? We offered free stuff. Every new person who responded received a free polo shirt with a logo on it. Why did the shirt help increase response? Because we learned the hungry fish were proud to be associated with the organization and wanted to show off its logo. But we never would have known that simply offering a polo shirt with the logo would increase response unless we first knew what motivated our hungry fish. That’s the lesson.

Here are three steps you can take to help you turn around your marketing:

Step 1: Begin by asking “Who?” Who are your hungry fish? What’s their pain? What problems are they experiencing? What motivates them?

Step 2: What can you offer that solves those challenges or appeals to their motivations?

Step 3: Create irresistible bait to get your hungry fish to take action. Consider offering free stuff, free services or free information that’s so compelling and so irresistible that your hungry fish would be foolish to pass up.

4 Money-Making Marketing Ideas to Crank Up Your Sales

  • Offer to pay your customers $5 cash for every referral who becomes a customer. Ask customers to simply submit a friend or family member’s contact information. When they make a purchase, send the customer a $5 bill.
  • Partner with auto-repair shops in your area and offer to give them $10 on every referral who spends at least $50 with you. Our clients send a letter about the deal to service shops with a crisp $1 bill enclosed—their first of many dollars they can make together. There’s nothing like cash to grab someone’s attention. You can also offer discounts for mechanics at the shop too.
  • Offer customers your own Big Bucks Certificates in addition to $5 or $10 cash for every referral who buys from you. The certificates can be redeemed for cash value on their next purchase.
  • Don’t forget previous customers. To keep them coming back, clients offer customers who haven’t made a purchase in the last 8–12 months free windshield wipers, free water repellant treatment for their windshield or a free tire rotation with their next purchase.

Jon Goldman is president and CEO of Brand Launcher, a company that specializes in helping business owners and executives turn around their organizations and their lives. He will be a speaker at the SEMA Show and is also the author of "The Million Dollar Lumpy Mail Marketing System"—a resource for supercharging any direct marketing campaign. He’s the creator of "The 90 Day Launch System – How to Crank Up Your Business and Simplify Your Life" and "The Secret of the Watermelon" and he publishes a weekly e-letter called, "Your Business GPS." Don’t miss his live session, “8 Steps to Master Marketing,” Monday, October 31, at 11:00 a.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Room N257. For more information about Goldman and these resources, go to