Outperform Casanova

Marcus Marcus 16 March, 2010 12:16:PM

The gentle art of seduction

The gentle art of seduction

Every day I talk to clients about how digital solutions can be particularly good for nudging and exciting their customers. It’s all a bit like dating but without the Casanova ending.

As was later the case with 20th century marketers, Casanova often repeated the same pattern in his pursuits. He would discover an attractive woman (customer) having trouble with a brutish or jealous lover (competitor brand). And then three acts would follow.

Act 1: The seducer ameliorates his lady’s difficulty. Act 2: She shows her gratitude, he seduces her, a short and exciting affair ensues. So far so good, but then comes… Act 3: The seducer gets bored and orchestrates a rapid exit. The end.

For Casanova, life was an open field of sexual opportunities without consequences. For the marketers, it was an open field of transactional opportunities without post-purchase responsibility.

Persuasion without information is as unsatisfactory as information without persuasion, but together they beget seduction.

The best thinkers in User-Centered Design have long claimed that information and persuasion are two opposite modes. Some content is labelled as persuasion or even manipulation, and is associated with advertising and marketing, while other content is understood to be information and therefore virtuous. But maybe persuasion and information are not mutually exclusive. Maybe we just need to re-write Act 3 so that persuasion + information = seductive strategies.

Here’s an example: a week before Valentine’s Day I went online to find something nice for the lady in my life. I tried my best to appear susceptive by freely giving away my personal details in the hope of attracting some targeted offers relevant to my needs. I entered competitions to romantic holiday destinations; I saved several virtual shopping baskets full of flowers and chocolate, and so on. I even returned to several websites, just to show how keen I was. But maybe I was too keen, as instead of tailored suggestions for romantic gifts all I got were the usual Viagra spams, dating and gambling adverts, and an offer to join a new gym.

Persuasion design is dead. Long live seduction design!

Seduction design is all about nudging and exciting the customer, rather than using an all-or-nothing strategy. The most elaborately designed experiences inspire people to adapt their behaviour and engage with new features and functionalities. In other words, the customers allow themselves to be seduced and buy into the proposition that the product or service is worth their time and money.

Designers, marketers, and creatives need to design for seduction as much as for aesthetic impact and usability. Methods of seduction can sell a genuine offer through the combination of motivational psychology and careful preparation. To convert this into a website, a mobile application, an email, or a banner, each element – graphic or verbal – must be given a seductive value that deepens into a suggestive relationship over time.

Had Casanova known that, I’m sure his romantici evenings would have ended happier both for him and his ladies.

Marcus Mustafa - Head of User Experience - twitter.com/dacrumb

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