Discover How Gregory Ciotti Brings Psychology and Marketing Together for Influential Results

Posted by Anant January 6, 2023

Gregory is a content strategist who is obsessed with behavioral psychology. He’s the marketing guy at Help Scout, the invisible email support software for solopreneurs & small business owners.


→ His marketing and advertising at Help Scout does

→ Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior

→ Important for marketers to understand the psychology and connect with their audience

→ His believes that understanding psychology is important for marketers

→ His influenced in the field of psychology and marketing

→  Five ways to use urgency in marketing

→ Three types of buyers.

→ The important of selling to different customer demographic

→ How to surprise your audience with small gestures to increase their positive evaluation of you

→ Consistently producing and promoting high-quality content.

→ His success with content collaborations and interviews

→ And a whole lot more


Sparring Mind

Help Scout



Bronson: Welcome to another episode of Growth Hacker TV. I’m Bronson Taylor and today I have Greg Seattle with us. Greg, thanks for coming on the program.

Gregory: Happy to be here.

Bronson: Absolutely. So, Greg, you currently do marketing and advertising at Help Scout. But I wanted to have you on the show because you kind of have a unique way that you approach it. You kind of approach it through the disciplines of psychology and content marketing. Does that sound about right?

Gregory: That is about right now know it’s a strange mix at first glance, but they definitely play well together.

Bronson: Well, you’re going to tell us a lot about how they play well together today. So that’s good. Let’s start with kind of high level psychology itself, right? We use the word a lot, but how do you define psychology? And then why do you think it’s important for a marketer to really get their mind around psychology?

Gregory: Right. So behavioral psychology, when it comes to marketing, the most important thing is it just shows you how people tick. It’s kind of like my way of framing it and it’s important. I mean, this is kind of my running joke with why I believe human behavior is so important is that, you know, if you were selling anything, bought people, you know, dog advertisements would be nothing but a tennis ball and a squirrel running in the backyard, you know what I mean? Or frisky bits or whatever they’re trying to sell you. But you’re not. You’re always selling to people. That’s why the commercials like I said, the dog food commercials will be about keeping your dog healthy, blah, blah, blah. You kind of have to know what people want to hear. It’s a lot easier to cater to desires that already are existing than to try to like, create desires. So for me, that’s why psychology is so important, because there’s a lot of things that are already kind of like within us desires and things like that that you can understand when you kind of look into the research behind it.

Bronson: Now, I like the way you kind of laid it out there. You’re not creating a need, you’re fulfilling a need. Yeah. I mean, as soon as you say that instantly, like, just makes sense, like, oh, yeah, that’s that’s a much better route for a marketer to take because to create a need, like you don’t have enough money to create a need, right? It takes so much, you know, to do that. So let me ask you this also. When we think about psychology, I think about just, you know, degrees in psychology. I think about psychologist. I think about, you know, really having to learn a lot of things that might be dry or boring or, you know, whatever. Is it possible to understand psychology just through kind of having like a keen awareness of your surroundings by looking into human nature, by paying attention? Or do you really have to go into the more technical side of things and really explicitly study it? Well, what do you think?

Gregory: It’s definitely a mix because I don’t ever want to knock intuition and the ability to kind of understand how people might perceive things, because you can always cite a study on why this is or that is. I mean, it’s an ongoing thing. Obviously, it’s an ongoing like school of thought. So I would say that in certain instances, like you can take some psychological takeaways from other sources. Like maybe like one of my favorite ways to do this is looking at heatmaps of the sites that I’m working with and you can kind of like dig in to later like the psychological aspect of why, why are people avoiding the images on my sidebar? Right. But why are people always focused on this side of the site? And why are people looking this way and why? You know what I mean? So you can kind of take data like that and then try to find, you know, the psychological reasoning behind it. I will say that I feel like it is important to know some of the research because it gives you a look at how this study was conducted. You know, I don’t I’m not going to knock anybody. But sometimes I feel like people will stretch the implications of a study a little bit too far. Like sometimes when I’m taking research and I’m applying it to like online marketing there, definitely you have to make a little bit of a logical leap. But I feel like anything that I use, it’s always backed by like the results that I’ve seen. I wouldn’t talk about it otherwise, but sometimes you’ll see people talk about psychology even in the even in the more academic publications, and they’re really stretching like the implications of a new study. And you kind of have to look at that stuff just a little bit so you can be like, Oh, this is reliable because look at, you know, the study’s been around forever and people kind of like guarantee this is real. Or when you look at new stuff like, you know, they can be totally like be a total whack job really. And it wasn’t peer reviewed and blah, blah, blah. So there’s definitely a balance you can take, like you can take insights that you’ve seen from other sources and look at the psychology behind it. But I feel like you also need to look at research just a little bit to to guarantee that you’re looking at the right stuff.

Bronson: Yeah, no, it makes total sense. I mean, you want to make informed decisions, not just decisions off of headlines that were link made in that you read on Twitter or something like that. Not enough about the study to really dig in and understand it. Exactly. So you mentioned, you know, needing to understand some of these studies, dig into them. Where do people go to do that? Because as soon as you say that, I’m thinking, all right, like that’s not something I’m used to studying is not something I’m used to kind of going out and, you know, uncovering what are some sources to learn, maybe where the studies are or any other kind of like actionable psychological things that I can learn. What do you use?

Gregory: So the number one resource books. The reason I say books is that the Internet hasn’t gotten around to covering it as much books have been. That’s kind of a weird divide. One of the reasons I also talk about it, like on my own blog and stuff like that, is that books have been around with this stuff forever, like, you know, children’s research and stuff like that. Like people blog, that kind of stuff forever in books. And also books are always made for a larger audience, so they’re not going to be like, he’s not going to say things that need to go up and look later to figure out what he meant. You know what I mean? He’s going to explain to you in layman’s terms, like what it is, the author, I mean. So starting with books is great. And also books serve as what I call like rabbit reads. Essentially, you kind of fall into the rabbit hole where like this person in this book says, this book says that. So you’re like, you’re like, yeah, now you have all these other books to check out or maybe they’ll link to or not link to, but kind of like put a research link in the book at the end. Psychology books have a habit of doing that, so you can go into the back of the book and like say, Oh, let me check out this research real quick. Even if you can just read the abstract, which will give you a gist of like what it was about. So books are the best way to start because they’re easy to read. You’re essentially it’s almost like you’re cheating. You’re like getting you’re getting three years maybe of somebody is research.

Bronson: Yeah.

Gregory: And you can read it in 2 hours later. I feel the better way. Way? Yeah. What better way can you learn that from that? I mean, you’re almost like you’re hacking reading or something. You’re hacking learning by line like that. So books are great. And like I said, I dig into the studies like probably way more often than most people, just because I like to see how is this conducted, blah, blah, blah. But usually books are a solid way to start and books are always very tend to be very reliable. I have to say ten now because I don’t know if you heard about the whole scandal with how we think and all that kind of or how we decide that what it was.

Bronson: Yeah, well.

Gregory: I won’t get into it. But they found like a lot of the research was just flat out wrong and stuff like that is quotations, but books are 99% of the time. They’re very reliable, great reads, and anyone can dig into them.

Bronson: Yeah, well, name off just a couple. The ones that really influence you. What are some of the books or maybe some of the authors that have written multiple books that we can just go and quickly look up on Amazon and maybe grab a few of them.

Gregory: Yeah. So all my site, actually, I have a full list of 50 books. Yes, but I can throw the link. Inspiring slash psychology dash books, but some favorites. Yeah, some of my favorites to get started as social animal is probably the best. Like social psychology, like 1 to 1. Like that’s probably the best starting book. Unfortunately, that one’s kind of hard to get your hands on, but that one’s a great one. Child, any influence? Everyone needs to read that I don’t need I shouldn’t not explain everyone you need. Go buy that book right now. I really like Harry Alley’s work too. A lot of the stuff that he looks into, it’s more psychology on a personal level, but through those personal insights you get to see how people react to things. And that definitely has marketing implications because you’re seeing how people are like internally evaluating certain situations. So I would say those, those recommendations right there are like the best beginner round up.

Bronson: No, that’s what I’m looking for. It’s kind of the best entry point. And I even like the you mentioned books instead of just other websites because you know, the crowd is watching this. You know, startups, entrepreneurs, they’re used to just everything being online and they don’t realize it. Like sometimes offline things matter.

Gregory: I have a bookshelf with real books. Yeah, same here.

Bronson: They’re good right now. You also published an e-book. So if you’re an author yourself and you publish an e-book titled Ten Ways to Convert More Customers Using Psychology. And first, tell us where we can go get that book and how we get our hands on it. But then I want you to kind of walk us through those ten steps. So first, where can they go and find that?

Gregory: Sure. So on help scout dot net, it’s under the resources section, I believe, because I argued for this. But I believe it’s like the very top one like above the.

Bronson: Book is I was looking yesterday I’m pretty sure and you get a lot of other things in there too. Are those almost all your creations or some of them?

Gregory: And the the 75 stats e-book was something they put together. And I like I love that one. It has a lot of great customer service statistics and the 25 ways to thank your customer that was also a pre Greg series helps. Yeah right but everything so that.

Bronson: Was kind of you were a part of the rest of it, right? Yeah. And there’s quite a resources on there. I just found out about those yesterday when I was kind of preparing for this and there was a number of things I saw on that page. I’m like, All right, I need to circle back to this when I get time.

Gregory: Because I got to say, I don’t have like I don’t have the exact number with me, you know, don’t top my head. But in terms of our newsletter leads, email leads like content, I mean, content, emails, not customers. That page is like like I would I would take a guess at like maybe 70% of people come to that page. Wow. So like we have the newsletter bar, our newsletter sign up in our blog and stuff like that. But that page is like the killer conversion page for email signup. It’s just for start ups looking at it.

Bronson: It makes sense. And I want to get to content a lot a little bit because when I saw that page was like, These guys are doing content, right? I mean, I was very drawn to it and I have a very high filter for those kind of things. I know how content is made. I know how it can be thrown together without care. You know, like I know how this world works. And yet I really am going to circle back to that resource page. So what’s all that in there, though? So ten ways to convert more customers using psychology. The first one you talk about action paralysis. Explain that to us a little bit.

Gregory: So action paralysis was actually a very interesting study that the American Cancer Society did, and they found that when they weren’t setting a minimum or kind of like establishing a minimum, when they asked customers for donations, that people would donate less. So one of the things that they added, I believe this is verbatim, but even a few pennies will help is what they said. So action paralysis is kind of when people when they don’t know, like what’s appropriate to start with.

Bronson: Okay.

Gregory: Or acceptable to start with, they don’t want to take action. So for the American Cancer Society, this is it’s way obvious because it’s like people are like they’re maybe concerned with donating too little. Like they’ll say, oh, $25. And they’re afraid of being judged by the person who is setting the donations who possibly had just seen a bunch of people donate $20. So they feel self-conscious. Right. So when they when they establish the even a few pennies will help. It’s like, oh, well, I can donate anything that I want. And what they found for people I know, there’s a people out there that are like, Yeah, well, what about this? They actually found that the average donations were higher when they established that minimum. So you might expect that even a few pennies will help. People are literally like.

Bronson: Change the $5. Here you.

Gregory: Go. Yeah, exactly. Here’s the change in my pocket. Now, people, once they feel comfortable, like I can donate anything, you actually saw the average is increase. So for like marketing, it’s really about establishing minimums parameters that people can operate in. So they’re not like, I don’t know, I don’t know, is what I’m doing right or wrong? You know what I mean?

Bronson: Well, let me ask you a follow up with that. If you’re leading a startup that has kind of a donation component, you know, the take away is, you know, clearly obvious, right? A lot of the startups don’t really have a donation component. Is there a way to apply this that you can think about top your head and kind of put you on the spot here?

Gregory: No. Yeah, that’s fine. I mean, one of the one of the best ways that I like kind of a bias is when people are just getting started with signing up. Like, it’s nice to let them know exactly what it’s going to take. So some people are kind of hesitant to, like, take action because it’s like, well, how much will I have to do or should we? I be doing these things when I’m signing, you know. So you kind of establish the minimum parameters like it’s only going to take 5 minutes. You don’t need a credit card. Like, you almost list those things outright, even though it may not be a concern to you for other people when they see the minimum action that it takes, they’re more likely to take it.

Bronson: Okay, that helps me because you took it away from money and you apply it to other things because of start ups. A lot of times, like the money is non-negotiable. There is no you get to have input on what you’re giving, right. And so applying it to other things now, it makes a lot more sense. Right. Next thing you talk about is labels. Explain labels to us.

Gregory: So this one was really interesting. So what they did was they conducted a study on how active people would be politically like how likely they were to vote. And they took two groups of people and they randomly told them, okay, randomly, they didn’t look at their past. What a way, a story they randomly told them, you know, you’re more politically active and then other people where they were just like your average and political activity. They found that the people who they told were more politically active, despite the fact that it wasn’t necessarily true, or I think it was like a 16 to 17% higher turnout for that group. So just by telling people you’re politically active, they kind of like, you know, they kind of like.

Bronson: Aspire to and they become.

Gregory: Like. So like the takeaway really is that like when you label customers with a positive attribute that they, I mean, cause political, you know, being politically active voting that’s something that most of us would say is good trade to have. Yeah. So when you’re labeling people with good traits, they naturally will kind of like they will actually take the action to fulfill the prophecy of being that kind of person. You know what I mean?

Bronson: No, absolutely no. That’s good. I’m thinking about, you know, growth occurred to me and I’m like, all right, I need to label the people watching this. As you know, you’re the ones trying to change the world. You’re the ones trying to build start ups. You know, you’re a part of this, you know, select group that’s really moving things forward. And then they start buying into that is are believing it. And right now, it’s kind of self-fulfilling. That makes a lot of sense. And that’s true with, you know, you can label things in a million different ways, definitely. And that’s why, you know, stereotypes are so powerful, you know, negative and positive because there’s various power to words. And we don’t really get that sometimes until we do know the psychology, like the words, the labels, like they actually do things in reality, not just within our own minds. The next thing you talked about was the three types of buyers. I like this one quite a bit. Tell me about the three types of buyers.

Gregory: Yeah, this one is interesting because, you know, a lot of people one of the things that I hear when I’m talking about a piece of research is that my customers aren’t like that. So this one is kind of a great study to show you that, you know, yes, people are very different, but there is also some underlying things that kind of tend to apply to almost everyone. So George Lo and. Steen did research on buying pain. Essentially. What pain do you feel when you buy something like almost like the all house and all that kind of like the cringe of I’ve spent too much money. So he found that, you know, universally people are essentially filtered into three groups are spendthrifts or people who are they have higher levels of buying pain. It takes more to get them to that point. I’m conflicted people which is kind of like the average buying pain just your average shopper really and tightwads me now has a lower buying pain they tend to try to like it takes a little more persuasion to get them to kind of like take action. So some of the difference is just to give you an example, when you’re selling to spendthrifts, hedonistic tendencies tend to take precedence over utility. So when you’re if you’re selling, I think one of the examples he used was selling a back massage. It works better when you’re selling to spendthrifts. When you presented as like a really, you know, a nice kind of just treat yourself. It works better for tightwads when you’re saying it’s for back pain. It’s going to you know, your back is going to be harder.

Bronson: You have to spend the money. Yeah.

Gregory: It’s like it’s like a healthy thing. Yeah. And also for tightwads. So spenders like they love signing up for things with credit cards for tightwads. They prefer things like bundling because they don’t like making multiple purchases because each purchase is like another pain. So they’re actually more likely to, you know, maybe buy like if you’re going to trying to get a tightwad to buy a, you know, a luxury version of a car or something, you’re actually better off doing the whole bundle than trying to sell them a car and then get them to get leather seats and navigation, you know, I mean, because each thing is like, oh, oh, like it’s a pain and they buy it. So yeah. And they also they need value to be reframed like very concisely. But you can never sell a tightwad on something that’s like, Oh, it’s only $1,000 a year. They need to hear the monthly breakdown, maybe even the weekly breakdown, because they can be like, I’m getting this much value and they can kind of evaluate it that way.

Bronson: No, it makes a lot of sense. And so, you know, I started watching this. Maybe the takeaway isn’t fine, how to market to all three kinds of people. It’s understand who is your audience? Because the audience probably fits in one of those three probably nicely. And now change your copywriting, change your imagery, change your marketing approach to kind of fit what that buyer needs to hear. Would you agree with that?

Gregory: I would I would definitely agree with that. If you don’t if you find that, you know, you’re not only selling to one or the other, try to find who’s the majority really is the most and then who’s the majority and kind of cater your main pieces of copy towards them.

Bronson: Yeah, because you’re going to have mixed messages. If you try to chase them all, it seems like you’re going to turn off, you know, the one and the other. And another thing you mentioned is to admit shortcomings. Explain that to us a little bit.

Gregory: Yeah. So this one’s interesting. I mean, we all make mistakes. And what they found was that for the companies, you know, a lot of companies don’t seem to live up to this, but they found that the companies who admit they admitted to mistakes they made during like a downturn, essentially in revenue customers and investors, they had more favorable opinion of those companies. And the reason being that this is what the psychologist kind of this was, her conclusion was that when you are assigning blame to external causes, even if they’re true, it makes you seem like you’re out of control of the situation. Right. So you can say that like, you know, you had some sort of shipping problem and it really was out of your control. But well, look at that. It’s like, well, they don’t you know, they don’t have a grasp on this situation. But if you mess up and you say, you know, you’re owning the situation, you’re owning the mistake, it gave people a sense that, you know, you can take steps to actually fix it because you are in control. You have your handles kind of like on the reins. Yeah. And they founded this. This was like conducted with both big companies and real companies. And they found that like, you know, investor opinions and money invested in all these other big, big, like real life things that apply to your company. They were all improved when the company owned up to their mistakes instead of trying to skirt around it. And you’ll see that with a lot of PR disasters is usually when a company tries to do that, they try to skirt around the mistake that they made. So yeah, it’s something to keep in mind in case it happens.

Bronson: Yeah, it makes sense because I mean, it’s the kind of behavior we expect out of our fellow humans. We expect people to own up to things and then we can move forward from there. And corporations, in a sense, they feel like they can operate in ways sometimes that we wouldn’t expect a friend to operate in and then, you know, their negative impact and then wonder why. It’s like transparency, communication, honesty. They matter at any level of society, no matter how small or how big you go. It’s baked into the fabric of our life. I mean, it matters. So it makes sense. So that’s, you know, what the study would show, but it’s still cool to have the research and to see that right. Another one is to use urgency the smart way. So what is a smart way? What’s what’s the dumb way?

Gregory: So urgency, you know, you’ll see urgency all over the web in terms of planning. Pages, all types of copy. But what they found in this one study I thought was really interesting. So it was essentially a test of copy in a pamphlet. Who does those anymore? Yeah, but it was it was a test of commonly done in pamphlet and it described tetanus. Like how tetanus disease affects you and blah, blah, blah. It’s pretty awful stuff I honestly like. Nowadays it’s less of concern, but it’s it’s pretty terrible stuff. So they found that when they were handing these pamphlets out to people, they wanted to see how many people followed up to get their tennis shot right. Like a tennis vaccination. And they noticed that there was two different types of pamphlets. One just had that information like, Oh, it’s terrible, it’s awful. And the second one had very, very, very minimal follow up information, literally, just maybe like an address or just like a one line of instruction for like what to do call this number or something like that. And they found that it was like I think it was like 25% more people got vaccinated. The second pamphlet. So literally the call to urgency. The lead researchers conclusion was that people can block out urgency without instruction. Essentially, when you create this like big sense of like you’re kind of pumping people up. If they don’t have a very simple instruction of what to do next, they’re just going to be like, Well, that’s not going to happen to me anyway. Right. So you build up this kind of fear, tetanus, and then people were like, well, it’s not likely. So they block it out. But if they have a, you know, a very simple thing of what to do next, they’re, you know, they have no excuse, really. So, I mean, I see a lot of people making this mistake where they kind of build up too much hype. And then it’s like you’re confused about what exactly to do next. Like, you need to spell it out, like as obvious as you can make it. It may seem goofy when you’re actually typing that kind of copy out, like click here right now or you know what I mean? But it’s important to kind of create that obviousness with people because they need it when you’ve kind of built up anticipation like that.

Bronson: Yeah, I like that word obvious. I mean, I just, you know, online things can become so complicated, bloated, hard to maneuver. I mean, that’s why the UX is becoming so important. You know, with this new crop of startups, it’s because things just aren’t obvious, you know, and so make them obvious. And then the urgency doesn’t go to waste that you’ve built up. And the consumer talked to us about the word instantly. There’s another thing I have kind of built in on that were.

Gregory: Yeah, so instantly, you know, I hate that these words have this kind of power because I call them the the sun, sun, sun words indistinct cheesy local campaigns of like new flashes of and like big yellow. But instantly it’s one of those words that works. So, you know, research around delayed gratification and stuff like that. They found that like when you use words that let people envision the problem getting solved quickly, it kind of breaks down their barriers to like rationalizing themselves out of a purchase. Obviously, you want to be selling great stuff that actually is useful. But I’m saying, you know, this this kind of stuff matters when people are evaluating whether or not to buy, when they can see that they’ll get it either on the Internet instantly or it’s a physical object quickly. It’s they can envision the pain being resolved. Like if they are I’m saying pain, but it could be just like the pain of I need a nice camera because I want to take quality pictures. Yeah. I mean, like just adding the fact that they can get it quickly, that makes them more likely to take action for sure.

Bronson: No, I totally believe that because I would spend so much more on Amazon if I knew same day delivery was really cheap if there was some way to make that happen. There are so many books I want to buy that I just don’t because I’m like, Oh, a couple of days. Like, I’ll just find a blog to read now to try to get this information.

Gregory: I mean, I want to read in a couple of days, like.

Bronson: I want it right now so bad that I would spend 500% more right if there was instantly baked into it, you know.

Gregory: And you if you’ll notice, Amazon is really trying to step up the delivery, stop with with, you know, prime. And just in general, they’re really trying to make delivery like super fast because it’s so.

Bronson: I think they get that delayed gratification. Like it’s not real. It’s not real gratification when it’s delayed, even though we’re rational human beings, we know in a couple of days it’s great to get the book in the mail, but it’s just something about it, like it’s delay that is, you know. So that’s great. You also talk about making an enemy. What do you mean by that?

Gregory: Oh, this is my favorite one. Okay. My favorite one. So I actually know the title of this one all the time because I love the study so much. To how social categorization and intergroup behavior target fell, I believe was the researcher on this. And essentially what he found was that when you divide people with arbitrary differences, like I think one of the examples was like he had people pick between one painter or another, like literally the goofiest. Like you don’t know the painter, like you’re just picking one guy or the other. He found that when you when you kind of created this division with these, you know, meaningless distinctions, people would still win when it came time to dole out rewards like he would give you would give individuals rewards, and you would dole it out to anyone who wanted money, something like that. They would actively reward in-group behavior and discriminate against like people outside of the.

Bronson: Group over.

Gregory: The goofiest distinctions. One of the one of the like more funny. This is not really like a follow up study, but I kind of see it as, like, related. Mm hmm. They found that when, like, when people use language, when talking about sports, when the team won, they were more likely to say we won. When the team lost, they lost. They lost. So people love being a part of, you know, these groups that really I hate to call sports groups meaningless because, you know, fans getting together and I hang out with all my Eagles fans and stuff like that. When we watch the games, we’re really, really, they’re really. Yeah. And people, they love being part of the winning team and rewarding their team even when the teams are divided, essentially with nonsense. So yeah.

Bronson: Is there a way to kind of apply this to startups in any way or because I’m not a hard time trying to figure out how to do this, I mean. Okay.

Gregory: Now, see, the thing is that most companies can’t make an enemy like Apple made an enemy. So Apple actively targeted. You know, PCs are boring. Like if you look at all their old commercials. Right. It’s like I think one of them is like a blond girl and like a tank top, like smashing, like big corporate like piece. You know what I mean? There’s this, like, 1985 commercial or something that’s like, most people can’t do that. That’s too risky for most companies. So what you want to do is you want to make an enemy with a belief. So Copyblogger is a site that helps scale. We love Copyblogger in terms of content marketing. They go after digital sharecropping, which is the idea of you’re spending all this time creating content and you’re putting it on someone else’s website. What sense does that make me? Your own website. Start your own blog for us for help. Scout You know, we’re not like taking pot shots at desk or something like that. We’re looking at people who view customer service as an expense and not as, you know, as like an insanely good way to make loyalty as a marketing tactic. What do we do with customers? And it’s like a marketing tech. So we kind of we kind of attack that. The idea that customer service is just an expense, we don’t we don’t like that idea. We’re constantly shooting it down. You know, we’re not shooting down individuals or companies or being jerks about it. Yeah. So that kind of stuff is really, really important because you create division where you want it. Like we want to ostracize people who believe that customer service is just an expense. We don’t want you to be a part of our group. So that kind of stuff is very important to to kind of establish in terms of branding and like content and all that stuff.

Bronson: Now it makes a lot of sense and it seems like it kind of leads into the next one, which is to stand for something like this is the other side of the coin of making anybody stand for something. So what do you mean by stand for something?

Gregory: So they found, I believe it was Harvard Business Review published this. They found that for people who are like fiercely loyal to a brand, 64% of them cited shared values. So help scout. The example was obvious, right? As you create division in both ostracizing people and who are the superstar, like who are the people who are all about we are about us. The people who take care of their customers like crazy. Right. But another great example is Tom Shoes. So they obviously have the whole thing where you buy a pair of shoes and they send them pair of shoes, you know, to people in need and things like that. And that created a real like a really strong community about people who felt, you know, they love Tom’s shoes because of because of doing that. I mean, it’s a quality product that’s like square one. But also, Tom shoes like kind of differentiated themselves from, you know, they almost took the opposite route of like, you know, the kind of bad labor conditions that you might sometimes associate with a shoe company. And they kind of took it to where like, you know, we want to reward people for buying our shoes and people loving. They got behind that 100%. So, yeah.

Bronson: You know, it seems like the more human, again, that a company becomes more that humans can relate to them and actually buy into what they’re doing. You know, earlier you talked about admitting shortcomings. That’s a very human trait, not a corporate trait. Now you’re talking about standing for something, having values. That’s a very human trait, not a corporate trait per se.

Gregory: It’s nice marketing and and beliefs like and good beliefs align together, right? Marketing does not have to be, like, sleazy. Yeah.

Bronson: That’s why I like where this is going because I believe this personally. And so it’s an added benefit that the data backs it up. So that’s great. You also talk about the devil’s advocate. What do you mean with that point?

Gregory: Then what? That’s interesting. The devil’s advocate. So the devil’s advocate term actually started in the Catholic Church. They would assign someone to be devil’s advocate when someone else was becoming a cardinal, I believe. But no, it was sainthood. When they were being inducted into sainthood, this person’s job was to kind of find out all the bad facts about them and make the case against them to kind of create a sense of balance. What they found, the Catholic Church has since gotten rid of this practice. What they found in research is that devil’s advocate actually enhances the persuasive appearance of the original argument, like 99% of the time. And the reason being.

Bronson: That for me.

Gregory: Yeah, the reason being is like when you’re bringing up the typical objections. Most of the time they get addressed straight away. One of the one I wish I knew more about the study off the top of my head. But one of the great ones was this big era with NASA, where people were like, they kept trying to bring up these objections, but people kept brushing them aside. I wish I had that off the top of my head. But essentially when you bring up objections with a group, when you’re playing the devil’s advocate, you’re not like you’re not objecting outright. You’re just kind of like, well, what about this? Those people will address it right away in terms like now we have that handle. And then now the original argument is actually enhanced because it’s like, Oh, no, we’ve taken care of those outside things. Yeah. When really? Yeah. When really. The person who brought up the objection didn’t do so in an outright objection kind of way. Like they’re not saying this is wrong. They’re kind of saying, well, whatever. You know what I mean? So what is really actually the enhance the persuasive argument that you put forward in the beginning? And so from cutting stuff, I always apply this to like what kind of objections will people bring up as soon as they’re as soon as they hit this point in the video or soon as they hit this point in the copy, and then you literally address it. And it’s almost like mind reading. Like if you got to a point about price and they’re like, well, what if I have concerns? And then you’re like, boom, you hit them with the line about, you know, but you knew that they were going to think about, yeah, so and it works the other way too, in case you ever have to do this. I’m not I haven’t really come across a marketing example where this is relevant, but if you have to make a point the other way around, you should object outright. Don’t play devil’s advocate, but literally become, you know, the voice of a kind of like dissonance against the idea.

Bronson: So, yeah, no, it makes a lot of sense. And then the last one is, have been great. You walk us through these. The last one is keep them on their toes. What does that mean?

Gregory: So yeah, we’re it helps out. We we love the idea about reciprocity essentially that when you do things for others comes back to you and that’s backed by research too. That’s not karma or anything. That’s not like a spiritual belief or anything like that. So they found that like, you know, reciprocity. It doesn’t take a lot usually to get this situation started. Jill Dini actually, I think he did a study where it was like a can of soda, where people evaluate another person like more highly just because they bought them a canister. So other great study, though, and that’s where this comes in, is that surprise? Reciprocity is the best of all. So you do if you do something for a person and they it’s out of the blue like they don’t expect it to really win people over. And I’m sure a lot of people can relate to kind of small things where that can occur, like maybe a handwritten note from someone that just came out of the blue. You’re like, Oh, well, it’s like a handwritten note on a piece of paper, but it’s like, it’s like the most meaningful part of your day all of a sudden, right.

Bronson: On their.

Gregory: Business application. Zappos did this. Amazingly, they’ll upgrade upgrade you randomly for free shipping. I know the first time I heard from Zappos, that was like three days. I was like, okay, it’s acceptable for a pair of shoes. And I got like the next morning I was like, Whoa, I won’t be in from anywhere else, like, ever again. So that sort of surprise reciprocity surprised me. People, the bonus. It works amazingly well.

Bronson: Yeah, we we recently bought some some kitchen knives for a house from, and then they show up with, like, posters and other stuff, and they’re like, Oh, we got cool posters. It’s like, I’m a grown man. Why do I need a poster? And yet it was exciting and I like them more now.

Gregory: Winning me over with bonus stickers. I know they did, but do I know?

Bronson: Want a bonus sticker? Somebody sent me. So, you know, it’s like, yeah, think about it. Like, we shouldn’t care. And yet it’s like a can of coke. It doesn’t matter. And yet it matters, you know? And so, yeah, it makes a lot of sense. So you’ve been marketing with Help Scout, helping them with their, you know, campaigns and stuff. Give us some examples of maybe how you’ve used psychology to market help scout, how you kind of you put some of these things into play and some of things that you’ve done just to give us even a more concrete example of how not that it could work, but that it does work, you know?

Gregory: Right. I actually have a really great example because it’s so recent. So there was there was a study I was reading called Why and How Controversy Causes Conversation. It’s a Wharton paper, and it was essentially evaluating how like what sort of controversies really get people talking. And they found that almost like, paradoxically, almost like the reverse of why you would expect things of high controversy tend like they wouldn’t get talked about as much on like social media and casual forms of kind of a conversation. Like most people wouldn’t talk about these things in a public arena because I mean, I think the reason is obvious because it’s so like risky to like, yeah, you don’t want to talk about a recent tragedy with a business person or a coworker. You don’t want to talk about religion or politics. I mean, you know, all the things that your mom told you to stay away from the dinner table when you’re at a friend’s house. Right. But you don’t want to bring those things up. But also like high controversies can also be calling people out, which I see a lot of like bloggers do, especially tech people. There is a big tech controversy like this week, I think about some sort of like movie anyway, for a business blog. You want to stay away from that stuff, right? Yeah. So what this study kind of shows is that. Items of low controversy can still cause tons of conversation. I call this the toilet paper strategy. All right. Well, the reason I call it that is that if you type in toilet paper orientation into Google, there is a 7000 word Wikipedia article on toilet paper orientation, essentially. Should the roll be coming out from the top or the bottom? Right. It gets better.

Bronson: Well, obviously, if top are your argument.

Gregory: At the very top of this article, they have a quote from a an advice columnist who had she has been published for like 50 years. And she said that there is a controversial article she’s ever written was on toilet paper orientation. What side of the. I know this is a person like and advice columnist writes about the craziest stuff sometimes and she’s telling you that toilet paper orientation was her most controversial article. Yeah, there was also an insanely viral image on both Facebook and just the web at large, where it was literally just a picture of the two ways that you can put toilet paper on your dispenser. And one them said, this is right. And the other said, this is wrong. Like 500,000 likes, a 100,000 shares on Facebook alone. Like the image was like crazy on the web at large. Yeah, but the video, the takeaway from this, it relates very closely to the study is that things that divide people and very even groups, that’s an important part because I imagine that, you know, even though one side of the argument probably has more people than the other, it’s fairly evenly split. People are like, Yeah, the bottom, yeah, the top. You know what I mean? It’s one sided. There’s no controversy, but things that are very, you know, they’re easy to discuss. But people still for some reason have like a very passionate opinion on those are the greatest things that you can talk about to stir up controversy. Now, how did I play it? So a recent article I wrote was why Steve Jobs never listened to his customers. So essentially the divide that I created there is customer feedback and innovation or sheltered innovation, kind of like Steve Jobs, Apple’s approach. We don’t want, you know, Steve Jobs quote about people don’t know what they want, so you show it to him, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I thought that was a great example. I’m kind of calling my own example great, but I thought that was I thought that was a great example because people are very opinionated on that matter. People are very opinionated on, yes, customers know what they want. We listen to them closely. And that’s been our you know, been a huge part of our innovation. And other people are like, now, you know, I have to innovate because, you know, I’m in an industry where I can’t copy other people. I can’t listen to customers because already they’re just going to tell me things that are already out there. Yeah, and it’s a great argument. Like, I have a hard time really picking a side, you know, 100% conclusively. But for the article, I picked a side because you need to put your you need to plant your flag when you do this stuff. Yeah. So we wrote about this. This is like a toilet paper argument, a toilet paper controversy where it’s like, yes, people are going to have passionate opinions. We had comments that like, you know, like a quarter as long as the article was like it was opinions. Yeah, it hit the front page of Hacker News. It was like 10,000 visitors over like like 40 hours or something like that. So creating that controversy, that was like, no one’s going to get truly offended. I’m not really going to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I am creating a divide on a topic that people love to argue about on the Internet. So, yeah, that that strategy is one that’s worked really well. And I just did it recently. So that’s kind of where I took a study and applied it to. Content is such.

Bronson: A helpful insight for so many reasons. You know, earlier you talked about of sporting teams like they really don’t matter, but you pick a side, you’re on the Eagles, you want to cheer for them. It’s like in a sense, you’re creating your own NFL, you’re creating your own NBA. Like you get to create these arbitrary teams that really don’t matter and then watch them fight each other. And we all enjoy it because nothing’s really at stake at the end of the day. I’ve never thought about it like that, but it’s such a good idea though, so thank you for that. Now, the next thing I want to talk to you about is content strategies and the kind of content strategies in general. We’ve talked about, you know, your specific strategies. You know the e-book he wrote, you walked us through that. But you just you well understanding content kind of at a high level. Why are content strategies so effective? Because I mean, time after time, I’ve been surprised by how many people come on the show and utilize the content strategy, and I didn’t expect them to. Why are they so effective?

Gregory: So content marketing in general and having a good content strategy that relates to the people who are likely to buy your product. I mean, it’s really just know like trust is, you know, the phrase that I like to relate it to. It’s people. They commonly see valuable content, they read it, they literally have a take away, apply it to their business. And if they if you didn’t catch them on the first article, at least now you’re kind of you’re in their brain like I read this great article and help scout. I haven’t signed up yet, but it showed me a great way to increase retention or loyalty, blah blah blah. Pretty much every like software that I use now in my marketing stuff, almost all of them I found from an article originally, like I’m like, I love this split test and you guys did all the data you showed me and now I’m going to sign up for your software because it looks like you your software provides what I wanted to do and what you kind of outlined in this content. So giving people, you know, that’s why the company blogs that are just like, here’s what we did last week, here’s what we’re doing now. It’s like, I don’t care. I don’t care what you did last week and I’m sorry now. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I mean, when you come up with a super huge feature and you want to let people know in your blog. Yeah, sure. Of course. No one’s going to knock you for that or you’re talking about yourself all the time. It’s like, why are you blogging? Like, no one’s going to read that. Like, no one cares. So, you know, the idea is to give people valuable content that they can actively use. And, you know, you gain mindshare. Really. I don’t I don’t mean to use buzzwords, but you really do gain mindshare with people. They remember you. And we’ve had we had this one guy he just posted about an article about this. It took him like eight months to sign up for help. So he knew about us for eight months and he was like, I would keep going back to the blog. He’s like, I love like the trial, blah, blah, blah. And like, finally we caught him like eight months later. And it’s just funny how like, content really creates like, you know, just a platform to you to help people. And when you’re helping people, they were like, it wasn’t swarm, it’s it’s reciprocity one on one. Really, with content.

Bronson: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. What kinds of companies do you think should be using a content strategy? Is it just like everyone across the board, or is there kind of a subset of startups and, you know, companies that should really be focused on it? What do you think?

Gregory: Yeah, I mean, there’s definitely a divide within I don’t necessarily hold the I’m not necessarily a content evangelist. Right. For like 100% of companies need to do content probably just because of this business experience. I mean, if you’re selling like industrial steel, we’re not in the content strategy, but like, you know, the number one really company nowadays and this is what I do is I mean, software startups, you’re literally selling the stuff from your website, especially cloud software. They can’t buy it anywhere else. They have to buy it from your website. So when you’re creating content on your website, I mean, you’re you’re giving yourself traffic, you’re giving yourself leads, you’re giving yourself new customers. I mean, I can’t see why any software startup would implement a smart content strategy. I just can’t see a reason why not, you know?

Bronson: That’s great. What are some of the keys to a successful content strategy kind of at a high level? What are a few things that just really make for a great content strategy?

Gregory: So step one, you have to look to your competitors and see what they’re doing. For us, that was easy. Look, again, I don’t mean to take shots, but the desktop com blog is pretty boring really. It’s all like answer digital evidence, five tips on loyalty, blah blah blah. So we of the answer, we kind of look at you, look at what your competitors are going and you fill the void. It’s actually great when you’re drowning in competition with both product and content. Just for anyone who is maybe a blogger or something. Competition is a great thing because now, you know, that’s how that’s hot, you know what I mean? One of the greatest expressions I’ve heard on that is you don’t want to be the best asparagus restaurant in town where you’re the best asparagus restaurant, but nobody wants the asparagus restaurant. No one cares. It’s better to be, you know, a good pizza joint rather than that. But like I said, the first step is you have to look at your competition closely. Where are they really lacking? And I guess as a case study, you know, did they never post case? Do they never use data, which was kind of our spin. We like using our customer service data psychology studies in customer loyalty. That’s like no one really does that into our world. So you look at what’s absent and you implement and you kind of make it better. Another thing is that you need to kind of have I call this like the M Night Shyamalan effect where like you need to have like a twist currently all about this and in a nice little twist like your main kind of thing that you sell for us would be like customer service, customer loyalty and a twist to data driven stuff. Now that’s perfect. And the reason that yeah, the reason I just quickly the reason that you should happen is you become very excitable in that way when you’re just another like, I don’t know, you’re just another marketing blogger, you’re just another business blog. It’s like you get lost in the shuffle. But when you stand out with that kind of unique spin, people will remember you.

Bronson: Yeah. Makes more sense. What’s the single most popular piece of content that you’ve ever created? If you know, if you can remember.

Gregory: That’s a tough one. Yeah, that’s a tough one. So I’ve tried a lot of different stuff. So one thing I experimented with, this might be my most popular piece of content. I wrote an article, a really long article on the science of productivity. This was for my own site’s boring mind. But what made it popular was I took the research. I went to a YouTube channel and I said, because they published it’s called Aesop Science. They published a lot of like short videos on our scientific research. And I was like, you know, you can publish this if you make a video out of this, you can keep the ad revenue. You keep the rights to the video. I was like, Just link back to me, right? I was like, I was like, Oh, that’s kind of a creative idea. And I was like, I never knew how it was going to turn out. So they published that video, and at the time they weren’t as popular really at all. They probably have like 100,000 YouTube subscribers, which on YouTube you need like a lot more. You need like a ton like really make it so. And they publish, you know, they put out these other two videos that like blew up like 3 million views apiece and they’re up to like half a million subscribers now. But because my video was so close to the other two, it did exceedingly well. My personal video is that like probably 800,000 views, right? The description is a link back to the article. So you can imagine that that or gangbusters or like it was amazing. So that’s one that I would suspect. The Steve Jobs one did really well or helps out probably our most viewed article and stayed, I wouldn’t say necessarily the most effective sometimes. Article effectiveness can be like SEO or really how convincing it is to people to sign up. That was definitely our most viewed. And then I wrote a piece on terms and guest postings, recounted blogger. Mm hmm. Are the five most persuasive words in the English language? I think that got like 3200 tweets. So that one was pretty popular, too.

Bronson: Yeah, absolutely. Now, this is something I’m interested in because you are so deep into the psychology and the content side of things. Are there any other growth strategies for Help Scout that you’re involved in? Do you try, you know, paper click? Do you try, you know, partnerships or are you personally just singularly focused on psychology and content?

Gregory: So what I tend to do is I will be upfront on collaboration and stuff like that. Bonner, who is our other marketing person, the Empress of Spreadsheets, the psychology, the analytics stuff she handles, like the PPC and that kind of stuff. Okay. So outside of content, I’m more of like to go out like I’ll do collaborations with other companies. Like I’ll, I’ll do essentially all interviews. I will do all joint projects, you know, joint ventures, things like that. They usually have a content background. So on there’s usually like a content angle. But yeah, I’m more of like a, more like the organic stuff. And if I handles all of the stuff, she does really great job with that too.

Bronson: And you guys are a two person team. Is there anybody else in the marketing mix there or is that it?

Gregory: I’m not really. I mean, our design guy, we we try to stay away from probing that much as possible. He makes pretty pictures that are great for marketing. But yeah, it’s really just part at the moment.

Bronson: Yeah. No, that’s great. Well, this has been a great interview. I have one last question for you. Kind of a, you know, one to end on here. What’s the best advice that you have for anyone that really wants to understand user behavior? They’re starting out. They’re trying to get their head around this whole, you know, understanding the psychology of their users. Where do they start? What do they do? How do they begin with some advice you have for them?

Gregory: Like I said, books is where that’s where I would start with psychology and for user behavior in terms of like nonverbal communication and things like that. Case studies and and heatmaps and all that kind of stuff. That’s an absolute must. I mean, I always kind of try to say that, like when people say, What do you think of this? When we’re talking about usability? I don’t think I just test right. I don’t think about it. I’m just going to test it. So that’s kind of my best insight on really kind of understanding how people use your site. Learn a little bit about psychology from books and look at case studies and heatmaps very closely.

Bronson: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, Greg, thank you so much for coming on the show today. It’s been an awesome interview.

Gregory: Great. And I was happy to be here.

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