Think Like a Criminal

The Blacklist is one of the hottest shows right now --available on Netflix. I finished watching the third season recently and I love it. I can't wait for the 4th season.

James Spader plays the role of Raymond Redington, a criminal mastermind. Ray's counterpart is FBI special agent Elizabeth Keen, played by Megan Boone. They have great chemistry and the stories on each episode are thrilling and exciting. But I'm getting ahead of myself, and I wish I could tell you more, but anything I tell you about the show would include spoilers.

Elizabeth Keen played by Boon on The Blacklist, available on Netflix.
Elizabeth Keen played by Megan Boone on The Blacklist, available on Netflix.

I don't like to spoil things.

Instead I want to share with you lessons I've picked up from the show that can be easily applied to online marketing and making money online. Today's lesson comes from the first episode, the pilot.

The lesson is straight forward but it escapes almost every marketer I've ever met. That's why most online marketers suck.

Think Like a Criminal

That's the lesson that Raymond Redington gives Elizabeth Keen. Of course, the lesson is metaphoric to online marketing. I don't want you to actually think like a criminal, unless you're trying to sell products to convicted felons.

In this episode, Elizabeth is struggling to crack her first case in the big leagues and for reasons I won't disclose here Ray is assisting her. She's looking for an abducted child.

She's struggling to find clues and make sense of the whole thing. Much like you may be struggling to make your first dollar online, much like you may be struggling to make your first marketing campaign stick.

So Ray tells her she needs to look at this in a different way. She needs to look at this like a criminal. What is in it for the criminal? Why is he doing this? What's in it for him?

Redington operates in the high level criminal world, so it is obvious that the girl that was abducted isn't the goal. The goal is something bigger, she's just leverage, a way to get something else. And this is what Ray is trying to get Elizabeth to see.

James Spader plays the eccentric mastermind Raymond Redington
James Spader plays the eccentric mastermind Raymond Redington

Think Like your Customer

Just like in this episode, the lesson is that you have to think like your customer, what does your customer want? why does your customer want that? You have to understand what motivates him or her and why. And then you have to speak their language.

Seems simple enough, but most online marketers struggle with this and instead they try to sell the customer in the features and specs of the product and services. Then the customer just glazes over and gets bored or is left confused with all the sales lingo.

Instead, you have to sell the benefits, you have to fulfill an emotional desire. Purchases are mostly made with an emotional decision, so you have to understand what makes your customer's heart beat.

Imagine you sell websites, consider these two sentences:

Does the website you sell have the latest PHP code, powered by the fastest MySQL database, with a lean load balanced front end?

Or is the website state of the art, provides customers information faster than the competition and will never crash?

The first sentence is trying to sell a website by selling specs and features. The second sentence comes from somebody selling the feeling, the results, the fix to the pain.

So next time you want to sell something, think like a criminal... I mean, like your customer.