What Pre-Historic Marketing Would Have Looked Like

I’ve been having a freaking ball (work-wise) lately – because I feel like I’ve tapped into something big.

It’s this intersection between the way we lived as a species before we evolved out of the forests and plains, and the way we buy online.

I was reading a lot about anthropology, psychology, and marketing/sales at the same time – and I had a series of realisations.

One big one came from Yuval Noah Harari’s book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. To paraphrase:

  • 3.8 billion years ago, the first organisms emerged on Earth.
  • 6 million years ago, the last common grandmother of both humans and chimpanzees died.
  • 300,000 years ago, we began using fire.
  • 70,000 years ago, we began using language.
  • 12,000 years ago, we began moving from nomadic tribal hunters and gatherers into permanent settlements
  • 5,000 years ago, the invention of money made wide-reaching commerce possible.
  • 200 years ago, the Industrial Revolution changed the way we live and work.

…And 25 years ago, fewer than 1% of us were online.

We like to think that the way we live and interact with each other is “natural”: This is our environment, and it reflects the way we’re designed.

But the truth is, we have billions of years of evolutionary baggage – and, however you measure it, only a few generations (max!) worth of history in our “modern” world.

Applying this to a really narrow field – my narrow field of helping people with websites to sell better – you end up with a five dot-point philosophy:

  1. Web designers make sites “pretty” – web developers make them “work” – but who is responsible for making them sell well? If it’s not you, it’s probably nobody.
  2. If your website doesn’t sell well – it’s like carrying a lead weight in all of your other marketing activities. Your ads, promotions, and lead-generation work will suffer. Your email marketing will suffer. Your conversions will suffer. Your profits will suffer. Your cashflow will suffer. Your growth will suffer. Your long-term viability will suffer.
  3. It’s all contextual. You can’t copy other peoples’ websites. What sells well for them won’t necessarily sell well for you. Your audience, and your products, are different. The conversation you’re having with customers is different.
  4. But the push/pull factors that people respond to, when it comes to sales, can be traced back to our caveman past and beyond. They’re primal – hard-wired into our brains in response to billions of years of evolution, where we had to avoid predators, poisons, starvation, isolation, rejection, exposure, and other deadly risks. And these primal push/pull factors continue to play into the way we make decisions – especially around sales, whether they’re online or offline.
  5. Here’s the cool part… Once you know the above (i.e. web designers don’t know how to make your website sell; that your sales and marketing performance is all about your site not anyone else’s; and that what’s going on in your customers’ hard-wired subconscious can make or break your results) – you can literally change a few pixels on a webpage, and completely change the results you get.

So, recently, I made one picture on a customer’s website 12 pixels bigger. (That’s about the height of a single line of text here.)

That one change resulted in a 20.05% increase in sales.

On the same website, I copied and pasted six words – so that they appeared on the page twice.

That change resulted in a 47% increase in sales.

Part of me thinks this stuff shouldn’t work. It’s too simple. The results are too big.

But it works. And the statisticians tell me that the results are too large to be a fluke (they use words like “98% confidence interval”).

So we’ve kinda tapped into this new way of thinking about buyer psychology on websites – and it’s been fun and exciting to see unfold.

Recently, Stephen Esketzis asked me to speak at the upcoming Digital Markets Australia event – on Monday October 30th in the Melbourne CBD – and share what we’re doing, and the real life case studies of the results it’s achieving.

I’d love to share this stuff with you.

Here’s the event details

I hope to see you there.

Warm regards,


WARNING: Please DO NOT rely on my client’s results to try and improve your own business’s ecommerce sales performance without testing!

What worked well for this client might not work well for you – with your unique customers, in your unique market, with your unique offering. The best and most valuable frame for your offering could be something completely different.

If you’d like to work with me, and uncover the specific tweaks you can make to increase the number of Leads and Sales you generate online without spending more on ads or traffic – let me know here.