How to Use E-Signatures

While the concept of using technology for a legal signature isn’t new (morse code was the first), a growing number of businesses and organizations are looking for a way to quickly obtain a legal signature without requiring you to be physically present.

Electronic Signatures Overview

Regulations for digital signatures may vary by location, but essentially the requirements are:

  • The signatory can be uniquely identified and linked to the signature
  • The signatory must have sole control of the private key that was used to create the electronic signature
  • The signature must be capable of identifying if its accompanying data has been tampered with after the message was signed
  • In the event that the accompanying data has been changed, the signature must be invalidated.

Finding Your Best Solution to Digital Signatures

I’ve done several electronic signatures, some which used a scanned graphic of my written signature and others which used typed text for my name. The main criteria is method to obtain and use of my signature complied with the U.S. laws.

Here’s a diagram of how the process works.

My personal experience with electronic signatures has been through using Adobe Acrobat DC. I use Adobe Creative Cloud products every day, so Acrobat DC comes bundled with it and I don’t have to pay extra.

Nitro allows unlimited signatures and documents for free, and works with cloud storage like Google Drive and Dropbox.

After looking at several paid solutions for electronic signature, Hello Sign seems like a winner. It’s free if you only need 3 or less documents per month, and $13/month for unlimited.

RightSignature looks like another good option, though there is no free version. Still, at only $11/month for unlimited, it’s pretty reasonable.

All of the above methods allow you to get started right away. Whichever solution you choose, electronic signatures help you to get important documents signed quickly regardless of geographic location.

Don’t Try to Reason with your Customers

As a small business owner, you need to accept what sales and marketing professionals have always known: people make decisions based on emotions. In today’s world, we have the studies in neuroscience and consumer behavior to prove it. Big corporations use this knowledge to lure customers away from you but if selling is a game, you have home field advantage. You can provide vital, emotional connections that big chains can only dream about.

We like to think of ourselves as rational, intelligent beings but when it comes to making buying decisions, the reasoning mind simply can’t perform. In Antonio Damasio’s book Descartes Error, he shares his studies on measuring the connections between thinking and emotions. When presented all the facts necessary for making a decision, people were unable to make a choice when they couldn’t access how they felt about the options. In short, your marketing should engage your customers’ dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

So You’re Not A Neuroscientist?

No worries, you can create effective marketing materials without taking a single brain scan. Your goal is to remember that your customers need emotional engagement in order to make a purchasing decision. How do you do this? Meet the customers on their level. What do they care about? What moves them? There are unlimited ways of presenting your products and services in a way that taps into the emotions of your customers and assures them you are a great choice. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Stand for something. If you operate from deeply held convictions and are consistent in communicating those values throughout your product line, suppliers, services, etc, you will provide a clear, compelling lightning rod of attraction for those customers who are longing to see those values genuinely expressed in the marketplace.
  2. Relieve their pain. What problems can you solve for your customers? Are they hassled with overly occupied lives? Offer bundles or ready-made packages that save them time. Are they insecure about how to purchase your goods or services? Offer simple guides and examples they can follow or create pre-selected combinations that boost their confidence.
  3. Affirm them. Most people struggle with “looking good” or feeling like deep inside they’re not good enough. How can you market your products in a way that affirms these deeply held issues and increases their sense of personal worth.
  4. Use color strategically. Colors directly affect emotions and evoke a personal connection. Use colors wisely in creating displays, marketing pieces, and an overall environment that connects with your target audience.
  5. Create appeal. Your use of imagery and writing can inspire people, make them laugh with joy or cry for a cause. Well chosen photos tell a story that will affect emotions. What are the characters in your imagery? What emotions are evoked? Humor? Joy? Love? Mystery? Intimacy?

Loyalty Beyond Reason

If you truly love your customer and are able to create genuine emotion connections, the research is on your side. Love equates significantly into loyalty.  In a survey of 60,000 shoppers across 50 markets, they found that if a brand can increase its loyal shopper base by only 5%, it can expect an increase of sales of 10%. In today’s world of social media, each one of those loyal customers becomes your evangelist, spreading the good word about how you make life better.

No one said creating loyalty and authentic emotional ties in business is easy. Furthermore, just as in our personal lives, customer relationships need consistent, supportive nurturing. But worth it? Absolutely!

 

The Stories in our Head

This morning I read a good blog article by Garr Reynolds summarizing a TED talk by Andrew Stanton on storytelling. It emphasized that humans connect through stories to form our emotional bonds. In marketing, it’s about understanding the stories of your audience and creating a story they can connect with.

Stories run our lives but most of us aren’t thinking about it. That kid that made fun of you in elementary school? What story about you or life in general did you create when that happened? That you aren’t as good others? Or perhaps that next time you’ll make sure no one can hurt you again? Twenty or more years later, are you still living in that story?

Some stories propel us forward (I am loved, I have valuable contributions) and other stories cripple us (I will probably fail, I’ll look stupid).  Those stories can make or break our relationships, work, recreation, health—everything that’s important to us.  I wonder how many good businesses fail because of the stories in people’s heads?

How do you know which stories are hurting your life? First of all, if there’s a strong negative emotional connection to an event in today’s life, quite likely it’s triggering the stories inside you. See! I knew that would happen. No one ever comes through for me.  Or why do I always get the short end of the stick? I’m the good guy!  Once you find the source of that story, you can leave it there and see today’s event for what it is. That person said/did whatever. That’s all. Once you have the story in perspective, you can move forward and continue to do the great work you’re here to do.

Image by: Alejandro Linares Garcia