Everything happens for a reason… I truly believe that.

I believe that everything is presented to us at a time when we most need it.

From teachers to songs, mentors and even from the macabre…

I was feeling a little stuck in marketing this week.

Working with corporate and technology companies is rewarding as well as it is frustrating.

It can feel like Groundhog day…or another Friday the 13th movie.

When you ask the same questions over and over…in several different ways…trying to clarify to your client the seriousness, and the effectiveness, of why research and asking any questions is key in messaging, but they still want to take the old school corporate approach (which is a boring today as it was 30 years ago)…frustrating!

This old-school rationale about B2B and the corporate marketing structure is what revolves around the corporation. It can be egocentric rather than customer-centric, with the focus on pushing their services onto potential customers.

Really we are so great. We do the best work. We have the best services. We we we… me me me… I I I.

With my head whirling and trying to help my client understand the necessity for this kind of research I threw my hands up in the air and binge watched Netflix

I looked up what was trending, what was a hot series on Netflix.

I heard that Mindhunter was a good one to watch, I tuned into episode one and…

Not bad!

I happen to like the behavior science shows like criminal minds so this was right up my alley…and no gross victim images (que the smelling salts and barf bag.)

It didn’t take long and I was hooked. I was drawn in like a moth to a flame.

How on earth does this relate to marketing?


The reasons we act on an offer. “Here little girl, I have some candy, a cute and fuzzy puppy, Brad Pitt and new iphone 8!” (um…Halloween!)

Or a compelling message to buy Flex Seal Liquid (I don’t have a row boat but I’d buy one just to see how this stuff works!)


Mindhunter is about how the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI got it’s start.

Holden Ford (who wouldn’t watch with a name like that) is this rookie FBI agent assigned to hostage negotiation, but he just so happens to have this special gift.

He can get an unsub to open up to him…spill the beans, confess to the crime, go into detail about how he did it all while the unsub feels like it’s just friendly banter.

This isn’t about creeping on someone to get them to do what you want or learning how to get away with murder.

What I saw is how to understand what people are thinking and feeling.

What I saw is how to create a way for people to open up and share.

What I saw is how to get to the root of a situation so you can solve the problem.

The 5 steps to get a serial killer to open in an interview

  1. Diffuse a situation
  2. Speak their language so they open up
  3. Ask questions that get them talking
  4. Learn the behavior trigger
  5. Solve the problem

Okay then…

Can you see how we can apply this to marketing (so you don’t feel like you’re stalking potential customers to go in for the kill?)

The BSU of Marketing – let’s investigate shall we?

Lesson 1 – Diffuse the situation

People are so savvy to marketing tactics!

They can see you coming a mile away.

They scan their inbox (like peeking out the window before walking out into the dark, foggy night) for clues.

When they see a suspicious message their first reaction – to shut down!

NO – stranger danger! Don’t let them in!!

People are watchful all the time and need a reason to let down their guard.

When they see you coming armed with a sharp offer or a loaded pitch they slam the door, board the windows and hide in the closet until you go away.

In an article by Insights in Marketing, research shows that customers don’t consider advertising trustworthy.

10 percent of men and women agree that marketers effectively communicate with them.

To build trust you need to diffuse the situation.

You diffuse the situation by listening.

Skeptical prospects just want to be heard.

They don’t want you forcing your pitch down their throat, they want you to find out what they need first.

Holden Ford diffuses the situation by applying a lighter touch, becoming a little vulnerable, by sharing something personal.

This is a tough lesson for me since I don’t love sharing my personal life. But…I have gotten used to it by opening up about screw ups I’ve made and the life lessons I’ve learned.

How do you diffuse a situation?

Lesson 2 – Speak their language so they will open up

Holden Ford has “off the cuff” comments and goes with the flow of the conversation to get a feel for how to communicate with the convict.

Raw and sometime foul, he gets these crazies to start talking, and not the “how’s the weather” small talk, but the stuff that makes your skin crawl.

But they open up. They give the deets.

When the uptight psychologist gave Holden a script of cold and tedious questions to ask the interview subject (aka serial killers) what do you think happened?


Absolutely nothing! They clammed up. Shut down. Said nada!

Let’s get out of Halloween mode for a sec and apply this to your marketing.

This is where voice-of-customer data comes in really handy!

What are the words your customers and potential customers are using to describe their situation?

Review mining – from your own product reviews, from Amazon, from forums and comments on competitors sites will give you insights into the language that people are using to describe how they feel, what they think and how they react.

Let’s say we’re researching how customers feel about mesquite wood chips for adding flavor to your barbeque.

Go to Amazon…yep right now. CLICK HERE I’ll show you what I mean

There are 181 customer reviews for this product – customer language gold!

Here’s one I found.

Good smoking chips. I use these on my infrared Charbroil gas grill. works great and gives my meat a good smoky flavor that is not too overpowering but just right.

Works great and gives my meat a good smoky flavor.

It’s not too overpowering but just right.

Can you see how this kind of language, could be used in an email subject line or header of a blog post would get you to read it over a stuffy headline like “smoking chips for the just barbeque flavor?”

Using the language of your customers will get them to open up faster and help build trust.

Lesson 3 – Ask Questions that get them talking

There is nothing worse than copy that launches into the “all about me and how great my product is and how it’ll be so great for you” without first knowing the customer.

Like Lesson 2, this lessons gets your people to open up start talking.

When someone comes at you with a serial monologue of product features and how great they will make your life, what do you do?

It feels like Michael Meyer’s is coming at you.

You try to get away as fast as you can!

When you slow down, take a step back before you attack, and put the knife down, you’ll see that you make more headway.

When Holden interviews Edmund Kemper (a 6’9 behemoth of a killer) he got the giant to talk by asking open-ended questions.

Edmund Kemper: Butchering people is hard work. Physically and mentally. I don’t think people realize. You need to vent.

Holden Ford: What are you writing down?

Edmund Kemper: [freely showing his notebook] Oh, I just think it’s an interesting choice of words, “vocation.”

Holden Ford: Well, what would you call it? A hobby? I’d say it’s more than that. Look at the consequences. The stakes are very high.

Even though talking with your customers and prospects can feel as scary as talking with Ed Kemper, they’re pussycats in comparison.

Think of some questions that you can ask in a light-hearted way that will get them talking and giving you information that will help with your marketing messages.

The Hubspot article The Art of Asking Open-Ended Questions has some examples you can use right away.

Lesson 4 – Learn the behavior trigger

Go back to marketing messages that have stuck with you. They can be messages that stuck with you in a good way, or a bad way.

If they stuck with you that means there was something specific in the message that triggered an emotion or reaction from you.

This is where we get to the meat of the messaging matter.

A good message will trigger your customer to do something – to take a specific action.

I was triggered by the Shoe Fetish Slayer.

I love shoes – in a good way! But I’ll tell you, I was second guessing my love of shoes after this episode when Holden and Bill interviewed Jerry Brudos.

He was triggered to go on a rampage… by shoes. (I’m not going into much more, you’ll have to watch the episode, because this one really creeps me out.)

We’re all triggered by something.

A Corona commercial can trigger us to grab a cold one just by showing us a good time at the beach.

Courtesy coronausa.com/


Kissmetric 15 Psychological Triggers to Convert Leads into Customers talks about some triggers in our messaging…give it a read.

Lesson 5 – Solve the Problem.

We’re just about done with the creepy and haunting lessons I learned from Mindhunter we can apply to creating marketing messages based on human behavior.

As Holden Ford goes deeper into the minds of the serial killers, he’s gather information and data for one reason.

To solve a problem.

How to understand the minds, triggers and behaviors to track and catch serial killers.

That’s what we, as marketers, are here to do.

Solve the problems that our clients and potential customers are facing so they don’t go on a rampage of serial buying sprees for products they don’t need that will kill their credit.

When we know what keeps them up at night, and we can get them to open up and talk about what they are facing and how this issue is keeping them from better life, we can better lead them toward a solution.

When you, as a marketer, can open this can of worms, you will begin to see more interest from people because you’re not interrupting their lives with some bullshit offer that they’ll return in 14 days because they felt duped into buying.

You are setting the stage for greater email open rates, more interest in your offers and higher conversions.

You’ll be the good guy (or gal) of marketing instead of a serial killer of sales.

Okay, now that I dove into the macabre, it’s time to get find some fuzzy yellow ducks and cute kitten videos.