Guest Blogger Heidi Tsao on The Popcorn Point

BY Dashboard

Our Clients inspire and challenge us daily. It’s their insight and guidance that enables us to create award winning ideas. We started working with ING DIRECT last year and have had the great opportunity to collaborate with their wonderful online marketing team. Heidi Tsao is the Senior Manager, Creative Services at ING DIRECT, and our guest blogger. Thank you Heidi for this wonderful post.

The Popcorn Point – That catalytic moment when the customer decides

Hi. Let’s start with a quick science lesson. Please take out your Bunsen Burners and Erlenmeyer Flasks.

A dry popcorn kernel contains a small amount of water, stored inside a circle of soft starch inside the hard shell. When heated, the water molecules start buzzing around, getting faster and moving farther away from each other. This is how steam forms and starts to build up and eventually, this pressure pushes against the hard casing from the inside of the kernel, causing the shell to rupture. The soft starch inflates and the kernel explodes, flipping the whole thing inside out to release the steam. It’s pretty dramatic stuff.

As a marketer at ING DIRECT, part of my job is to figure out how to change our Clients and prospects’ behaviour. In terms of acquisition, it’s getting people to switch over to us for their banking needs. We feel that what we’re offering is pretty compelling: no-fee banking with great rates. We are about helping Canadians save their money. To us, it’s a no-brainer; banking with us is simply a better way. You’d think it would be an easy sell. But no…

Like all marketers, we face the challenge of convincing our prospects that what we’re offering them will make their lives better. Also, that we’re worth the time and effort to make the switch. Add to that whatever history, emotional ties, and loyalty that they might have to whatever competitive product or service that they are currently choosing. The barriers to entry are many.

And here’s where The Popcorn Point comes in. Everyone has that split second in their brain when, for whatever reason, the switch flips over to yes. Yes, I will supersize my order. Yes, I will go organic. Yes, I will make a donation. Yes, I will finally sign up for that ING DIRECT account like I’ve been meaning to do for so long.

I’ll give you another example at the price of my own dignity. I’ve shared this story with many of my co-workers when talking about just what we need to do to get through to our prospects. It happened about 5 years ago, as I had just started working at the bank. I was walking to my desk one day, when I felt something on the back of my pants. As I reached behind to brush whatever it was off, to my horror, I realized that there wasn’t actually something there. What I had been feeling was the sensation of my jiggling backside rubbing against the fabric of my clothing. Essentially, my butt had caused a ripple effect in my pants. I had started the wave in my trousers.

And that was my Popcorn Point for deciding to get fit. I joined the gym, hired a personal trainer, and today, I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been and feel great for it.

The point of all this is that every consumer has infinitely unique and personal reasons for making their buying decisions. As marketers, we work hard everyday to try and figure out how to tap into those impulsive moments and motivational reasonings to flip those switches over to yes. And we’re grateful for the creative thinking and mad skillz of our partners like Dashboard to help us do it.


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  • 22/08/11

    Heidi says:

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts. 'Cos sharing is caring, as they say.
  • 23/08/11

    Barry says:

    Great post Heidi! Love the analogies and the science lesson. When asked what we do from now on, I'm going to say we make popcorn!
  • 23/08/11

    Heidi says:

    With extra butter no less!
  • 17/09/12

    Mariana says:

    Please feel free to bring cans of soda if you can. We still need plates, napniks, ketchup and mustard. Spread the word please! Anything you bring in before Friday can be dropped off with Ms. Sandoval in the Parent Room.Thank you!!!