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Ivan Pavlov could make his dogs salivate without any food being present.

Salivating On CommandThis discovery was accidental. Pavlov’s Nobel prize actually came from his study of the digestive system, but he noticed something else in the process. The dogs being used in the experiments would begin salivating whenever someone in a lab coat would enter the room. It turns out that they were always fed by people in lab coats.

So, he decided to see if he could condition this response. He rang a bell in close to the time when the dogs were being fed. And the dogs learned to associate the sound of the bell with getting food. After a while, at the mere sound of the bell, they responded by drooling… no food required.

You’re built to respond to emotional triggers.

One of the hottest marketing books right now is called, “Fascinate.” Sally Hogshead lays out a convincing argument for the power of fascination and details the seven universal triggers that are at its foundation. These triggers are passion, mystique, prestige, power, rebellion, alarm, and trust.

Great marketers understand how to use these triggers to get you to do what they want you to do. As Hogshead explains, “by activating the right triggers, you can make anything become fascinating.” Anything.

Ringing The Social Media Dinner Bells

More than 100 years after Pavlov’s experiments, social media marketers use these triggers like bells in “close association” to food to make you salivate. The mere mention of the potential of food sends you running for the closest shiny dog bowl. Often, however, there is no food in that shiny bowl. There’s just the bell.

Ding. Everyone should blog. It’s easy.
Ding. A personal Facebook business page replaces blogging.
Ding. No. A “365 Things To Do” Facebook Page is the real deal.
Ding. QR codes will revolutionize RE marketing.
Ding. Foursquare is the next Twitter.
Ding. Google+ is the next Facebook.
Ding. Pinterest is the Google+ killer.

I could literally go on and on. Quora was supposed to be the new Twitter. Then it was Foursquare that would be a threat. The pace can seem almost overwhelming. And the hype even extends to services that attempt to measure your own ability to pull social media triggers, like Klout, which really serve no other purpose than to make you the target for more advertising. And just as Klout was gaining steam, the real estate social media bells were ringing like crazy for Empire Avenue. For about a month, it was the “next Klout,” and everyone ran to the empty shiny bowl. It’s all a silly game really. The good stuff will shake itself out over time. There’s no need to rush blindly each time you hear a someone ringing the bell. If there’s no food, being early won’t get you fed. And if there is food, the chances are pretty good that there will be plenty to go around.

You don’t have to be part of the experiment. You don’t need a new flavor.

A report on content marketing was released a couple of weeks ago by The Altimeter Group. It’s an in depth study of what is and is not working in content marketing. Ken Yeung gives a great review of the report here.

“Pay no attention to the flavor of the week,” Yeung writes. “In their research, the Altimeter Group discovered that many marketers are distracted by channels and technologies at the expense of strategy and marketing fundamentals. Don’t try and go after something unproven only because it’s the latest and greatest. Focus on the things that will truly help you get the attention of your customers.”

“In fact, it’s the search for the next big thing that is hurting many businesses,” John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing writes. “You know what the next big thing for every business is? Find a way to clearly differentiate what you’re doing and how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it from everyone else that says they are doing what you’re doing. That’s the next big thing.”

“To me,” Ira Serkes said on my Facebook wall, “the real issue is… why are Realtors so easily seduced by the new new thing instead of focusing on the old old thing of working hard, taking great care of clients, and doing the right thing.”

Focus on what is working for you right now.


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Photo Credit : By click-photo Erik Adam Klausz via Flickr.