Is There a Psychological Trick for Marketing?

I was a kid when I first heard about subliminal advertising. Turns out that experiment was bull — they couldn’t replicate the results, and neither has anyone else since — but the idea is still tantalizing. Are there psychological tricks, subliminal or otherwise, that can increase the effectiveness of your marketing by a significant percent?

Flip the brain switch.I was a kid when I first heard about subliminal advertising from some TV infotainment documentary (I was that kind of kid). it was the famous 1950s experiment in a movie theater where they slipped in ads for soda and popcorn so briefly that people weren’t aware of them, yet they bought more soda and popcorn.

Turns out that experiment was bogus — they couldn’t replicate the results, and neither has anyone else since — but the idea is still tantalizing. Is there a psychological trick, subliminal or otherwise, that can increase sales by a significant percent?

Crack the Customer Mind Code ThumbnailThat came back to mind when i was reading Gary Hennerberg’s “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” If you’ve been reading his Reinventing Direct blog, you’ve seen a bit about it. However, what Gary goes into isn’t one or two tricks, but a whole system for walking 12 foundational personas through seven psychological steps that lead to a purchase.

The 12 personas Gary identifies as the ones he’s seen most often are:

  • Trailblazer/Early Adopters
  • My Brand/My Lifestyle/My Growth
  • Money Matters
  • On Financial Edge
  • Right Thing to Do: Taking the High Road
  • Love and Social Relationships
  • Adrenaline Seekers: Opportunists
  • Safe Players
  • Hiding My Compulsion
  • Fifty Plus
  • Business 8 to 5
  • Did I Matter?

The seven steps are:

  • Identify the Person (Persona)
  • Stimulate Emotion
  • Calm the Mind
  • Position/Reposition Your USP
  • Tell a Story
  • Interpret Features and Benefits for Them
  • Gain Permission to Act

Gary goes into how to walk each of those personas through each of those paths. How to message them, what verbs to use, and how to convince them it’s OK to trust you and complete the purchase.

It’s a good, thorough system with specific tips and suggestions on almost every page.

But what it’s not is a trick. In fact, after reading “Crack the Customer Mind Code,” what I came away with was a better understanding of just how complicated marketing really is.

It’s easy to say “You need to stimulate emotion to get attention from your prospects.” It’s a different thing entirely to identify the personas of the prospects you’re targeting and figure out exactly what stimulates emotions for each of them, then reach them with that message, and the next message and on down through the seven steps to purchase.

There’s certainly psychology at work, but it’s no trick.

And as I’ve gotten to understand marketing better over the years, That matches up pretty well with my overall experience. There are no psychological tricks to marketing, but there are plenty of good psychological insights you can apply to make your marketing more effective, once you know how to crack the code.

3 Steps That Reveal Your Marketing Blind Spot

Your eyes each have a blind spot. It’s an area right in front of your eyeballs that the shape of the cornea prevents you from seeing. Your brain takes input from both eyes and fills in the blind spot with what should be there. As marketers, you have a marketing blind spot as well. Only your brain isn’t addressing that one, and it can lead to disaster.

The brain is an amazing piece of biotechnology. Your eyes each have a blind spot. It’s an area right in front of your eyeballs that the shape of the cornea prevents you from seeing. It’s not right in the middle, but it’s in an area you’d never guess you couldn’t see.

The reason you don’t realize you have a blind spot is because your brain addresses it. It takes input from both eyes, and fills in the blind spot with what should be there.

As marketers, you have a marketing blind spot as well. Only your brain isn’t addressing that one, and it can lead to disaster.

The Marketer's Blind Spot
“The Marketer’s Blind Spot” was MECLABS Founder Clint McGlaughlin’s keynote at Marketing Sherpa Summit 2016.

“It’s the greatest danger facing every single marketer in the room today,” said Flint McGlaughlin, founder and managing director of MECLABS Institute, during the opening keynote of the annual Marketing Sherpa Summit, held this week in Las Vegas.

I had the good fortune to attend this year’s show (It’s a great event!) and I think McGlaughlin found a good way to explain a way of thinking that’s been plaguing marketers for as long as I’ve been covering them.

The Marketers Blind Spot
It’s one thing to be told you have a blind spot. It’s quite another to see it in a room full of marketers. McGlaughlin showed creative treatment after creative treatment — emails, landing pages, shopping cart pages — and he asked the marketers in the room which one they thought would do better in a test.

I got half of them wrong.

In repeated testing that MECLABS has done in its case studies and research, “72 percent of the marketers chose the wrong treatment,” claimed McGlaughlin.

It’s a problem he’s been seeing for years, one of the key findings from the years of research MECLABS has done.

“The more expert we become as marketers, the less expert we become as consumers,” McGlaughlin says. “Something connected to that observation is at the heart of our problem.”

Brain Research: The Next Direct Marketing Breakthrough

What will be the new exciting breakthrough for direct marketers in 2016? I believe its brain research. Insights from the BRAIN Initiative can give direct marketers new perspective and ideas for creating more attention-grabbing and emotion-based messages that lead our prospects to give themselves …

Gary Hennerberg's upcoming book, "Crack the Customer Mind Code," goes deeper into the neurological mysteries of marketing.
Gary Hennerberg’s upcoming book goes deeper into the neurological mysteries of marketing.

What will be the new exciting breakthrough for direct marketers in 2016? I believe its brain research. Insights from the BRAIN Initiative can give direct marketers new perspective and ideas for creating more attention-grabbing and emotion-based messages that lead our prospects to give themselves permission to take action.

Why is brain research in the spotlight now? Because millions of dollars are being poured into brain research that exposes fresh perspectives on how we think, and how we respond to marketing messaging. In a moment, I’ll share three primary benefits for direct marketers that are expected as an outcome of continuing brain research.

This new research is recognized as the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. It’s intended to massively deepen our understanding of the human mind. The goal is to uncover new ways to treat, prevent and cure brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.

At first glance, brain research may seem to have nothing to do with direct marketing. But look closer, and the implications are game changing.

The links between how to understand deeper thinking and how the pathways in the mind motivate people to take action are spelled out in my new book, Crack the Customer Mind Code, Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES! It will be published soon by Morgan James Publishing and available to readers of Today @ Target Marketing.

I’ve long had a curiosity about the mind. Here’s why:

I have lived with a mysterious obsessive-compulsive disorder since the age of 6. Having consumed me since I was a child, it has driven a lifelong curiosity of how and why the mind is wired and works as it does.

The compulsive — and uncommon — disorder that has highly influenced my life comes with a rather unflattering name: trichotillomania, or compulsive hair pulling. As a child, I believed that I was the only person in the world who pulled my hair. Yet today we know the medical and psychiatric communities estimate that perhaps 2 percent of all children will pull noticeable clumps of hair. Most of us live with the disorder in silence, full of shame. I was no different. But in 2007, I resolved to go public with my disorder and be a role model for children and adults who suffer in shame. I shaved my head, lifting decades of burden from my shoulders. I wrote a book, titled Urges, about my childhood of living with this disorder, and have met with other hair pullers at conferences from coast-to-coast.

Knowing my brain was different from others, I’ve always wanted to peer inside and see if a wire was crossed. I dreamed that my brain could be opened up, the misguided wire that created those urges to pull hair would be gently moved to its proper place, and that I would stop pulling and my life would be normal, just like everyone else.

But of course, the brain can’t be opened and misconnected wires and pathways uncrossed to change the code. And certainly, a “normal” brain is a matter of perspective.

Since the BRAIN Initiative was announced in April, 2013, dozens of technology firms, academic institutions, scientists and other key contributors to the field of neuroscience have made significant research commitments. Millions of dollars continue to pour into the BRAIN Initiative.

The impetus for funding the research was borne from a disturbing World Health Organization statistic, and with this additional reporting of the economic impact of brain injuries, diseases and disorders in the Washington Post:

One in four families worldwide includes someone with a brain injury, disease or disorder, including psychiatric illnesses and developmental disorders, according to the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. In the United States, the economic burden for neurological problems is nearly a half-trillion dollars every year.

The good news is that research is already in progress. The findings and treatment could have a profound impact on the health of people everywhere.

But the findings of these studies could also reshape how marketers approach how to access deeper emotional, and logical, levels of thinking through our messaging. Studies are already revealing insights about how short- and long-term memory influence how the brain processes information and makes decisions.

Three benefits of the BRAIN Initiative to direct marketers are:

  1. Economic Improvement. When one in four families is impacted with brain injuries or disease, their financial wherewithal or attention to engage with and respond to our offers is likely diminished. If some of these families are helped, it follows that the entire economy benefits.
  1. What Influences Emotion and Decisions. By understanding brain function, marketers can better understand the influences of how people absorb messaging, react with emotion, and make decisions. It can also deepen our ability to better imagine personas of our prospective customers.
  1. Focus Marketing Messaging. By unlocking mind mysteries, findings from research can help marketer’s better focus marketing messaging that connects and resonates more deeply with people.

The opportunities for individuals, families, our culture and the world will most surely be expanded because this research promises a better future for us all.

In 2016, more exciting breakthroughs in brain research will surely occur. New findings may well lead you to new insights about your marketing strategies and messaging. Get more insights on this topic and the seven mind pathways revealed in my new book at CustomerMindCode.com.

5 Positioning Ideas When Leading With Price

What works best? Selling product benefits, then revealing the price? Or revealing the price, followed by selling benefits? There are rarely absolute answers, and statistically valid A/B testing in a direct marketing environment will give you the answer that works for your situation. Still, findings of a new study suggest five ways for direct marketers to reveal price

What works best? Selling product benefits, then revealing the price? Or revealing the price, followed by selling benefits? There are rarely absolute answers, and statistically valid A/B testing in a direct marketing environment will give you the answer that works for your situation. Still, findings of a new study suggest five ways for direct marketers to reveal price.

Neuroscientists and professors from Harvard Business School and Stanford University conducted a study to see if considering price first changed the way the brain coded the value of the product.

The focus on the research was on brain activity when the participant saw the price and product presented together. They were most interested in the area in the brain that deals with estimating decision value (the medial prefrontal cortex), and the area of the brain that’s been called the pleasure center and whose activity is correlated with whether a product is viscerally desirable. This pleasure center is called the nucleus accumbens.

Fundamentally, the research indicates there are differences in how a person codes information, based on whether the product has a greater emotional attachment, or whether the product was more practical.

They found that brain activity did vary in the sequence of product versus price first. A conclusion of the report is that when the product came first, the decision question seemed to be one of “Do I like it?” and when the price came first, the question seemed to be “Is it worth it?” Three other points made in the research suggest that showing price first can make a difference:

  • The order of price or product presentation doesn’t matter when the product is desirable and easily understood and consumed (e.g., movies, clothes, electronics), and fulfill an emotional need. If the product is affordable in this instance, then it’s an easy decision no matter how price was presented.
  • When a product is on sale or bargain-priced, showing price first can positively influence the sale.
  • When the product is practical or useful (more than emotional) showing price first prompted participants to be significantly more likely to purchase a product.

“The question isn’t whether the price makes a product seem better, it’s whether a product is worth its price.” said Uma R. Karmarkar, one of the research author. “Putting the price first just tightens the link between the benefit you get from the price and the benefit you get from the product itself.”

For direct marketing, copywriting formulas often dictate that the price comes toward the end of a sales message, after the product has been presented—particularly in letters and longer-form copy. This study suggests an A/B test of revealing price first is in order.

If you are going to test revealing price first, here are five positioning ideas:

  1. When a product is on sale, prominently show the price. Use dollars, not percentages. Percentages aren’t easily calculated in the mind (or worse, they are miscalculated in the mind and you risk losing a sale).
  2. Incrementally break down the price. Show it as the cost per day, cost per use, or some other practical way to reveal increments of the price.
  3. Compare the price to an everyday item. One of my most successful direct mail packages included a letter with a headline that said, “For about the cost of a cup of coffee a day, you can have …”
  4. Compare to your competition. If you have a price advantage, show it. If you don’t, then compare at a different level that includes longer product life, more convenience, or other benefits.
  5. Position the price presentation as a cost of not buying now. In other words, show how the price could increase in the future, or the loss that can happen by waiting. This positioning also creates urgency.

It’s important to acknowledge is that the research didn’t study emotion-based long-copy with storytelling and unique selling positioning of the product. Using emotion, story and a strong USP before revealing price in a direct marketing environment may be more effective to sell your product. Every situation is different. The only way to conclusively know if revealing price first will generate a higher response than presenting the sales message first is to A/B test.

5 Numeric Speed Bumps to Higher Conversion

Ah, the holiday season. Your prospects are moving fast these days in an always-on world, with all the trimmings of distractions and stress. Fast thinking normally trumps slow thinking, yet sometimes you need to slow down thinking long enough to convert your prospect into a paying customer. Your most challenging task during these last days before the holidays may be

Ah, the holiday season. Your prospects are moving fast these days in an always-on world, with all the trimmings of distractions and stress. Fast thinking normally trumps slow thinking, yet sometimes you need to slow down thinking long enough to convert your prospect into a paying customer. Your most challenging task during these last days before the holidays may be slowing down your prospective customers just enough that they don’t skip over your sales message.

Fast thinking is always on. Fast thinking is instinctive and automatic. Whatever pops into the mind of your prospect often happens with no voluntary control. And sometimes fast thinking works in your favor with a quick, impulsive decision to buy.

But, not always.

So, as you set out to grab attention during these frenzied times, remember that when the mind is in fast thinking mode, short, simple sentences, with short words, are more effective. Content that’s breezy in style usually prevails over hard-to-read copy. And this helps to explain why it’s best to write copy that is readable at about a ninth- or tenth-grade level.

But how do you get the fast thinker to slow down when you want them to make a decision?

Here’s where you can create speed bumps in your message, so the mind doesn’t slide down its established memory grooves too quickly and pass you by.

One way to get attention is by introducing numbers. Numbers—especially dollars and cents—are effective speed bumps.

For people to respond to numeric data effectively, they need to be able to do three things:

  1. Comprehend the number.
  2. Interpret it in proper context.
  3. Act on it.

When our daughters were small children, one of the ways that I discovered how to get them out of an emotional tantrum was to ask a question requiring a numerical answer. Questions like “how old are you?” or “how old will you be on your next birthday?” worked like a charm to move our kids from their right brain emotional state to a left brain logical state to slow down their impulsive thinking.

So, when using numbers in marketing copy, you can slow down the readers’ thinking with these five speed bumps:

  1. Ask a question that requires a numeric answer.
  2. Reveal pricing in small chunks, such as a cost per day.
  3. Display discounts in dollars, not percentages. Not everyone quickly grasps that 30 percent off a $100 item equals $30. Better to say “save $30.00.”
  4. Illustrate improvement or satisfaction increases using specific numbers. Better: give numbers visual life in charts or graphs.
  5. Guarantee your product or service for a specific number of days (more time, such as 60 or 90, is stronger than 30 days).

All said, you may be able to get a prospect to make a purchase decision in your favor from snap thinking and decision-making (and if you can close them quickly, then why not?). But most people don’t act that impulsively. And impulsive decisions are a slippery slope to buyer’s remorse. Slow them down, if you can, in these final days before the holidays with a few strategically placed speed bumps.

5 Tips to Sell Media Multitaskers

How many gadgets do you juggle simultaneously? Assuming you’re like most people, you’re on your laptop/tablet, smartphone and other media devices checking email, texts and social media at the same time. And so are your prospects. Their mind (and your mind) is multitasking a lot. But here’s scary news: You could be shrinking important structures in your brain. So are your prospective customers. And this is going to impact…

How many gadgets do you juggle simultaneously? Assuming you’re like most people, you’re on your laptop/tablet, smartphone and other media devices checking email, texts and social media at the same time. And so are your prospects. Their mind (and your mind) is multitasking a lot. But here’s scary news: You could be shrinking important structures in your brain. So are your prospective customers. And this is going to impact your selling success whether you like it or not.

Intuition tells us that it’s tough to media multitask, that is, attempt to watch TV and be on your computer and/or your smartphone checking email, texts and social media all at the same time. If you’ve done it, you know you’re not completely present with any one of these. Rather, your focus diverts from one media to the other with the end result of losing out on the whole story of any one thing.

New research by two neuroscientists has found that people who use multiple devices simultaneously have lower gray matter density in an area of the brain associated with cognitive and emotional control. With these new findings, there is increasing concern about how simultaneous multiple media consumption is altering our cognition, social-emotional well-being, and brain structure.

Media multitasking is also associated with emotional problems, like anxiety and depression, as well as cognitive problems, like poor attention. Gray matter is also central to muscle control, sensory input, decision making and self-control.

And there’s more: we’re losing gray matter which affects “executive function” in the brain. “Executive functions” include judgment, analysis, organizing, problem solving, planning and creativity. With those “executive functions,” the mind can more deeply groove new memories into long-term knowledge.

So while there is reason for you, on an individual level, to be concerned about this development, as a direct marketer, you have additional challenges selling your prospective customers.

Since there is little you can do to change the course of how your prospects will media multitask, you have to take steps to adjust your marketing approach. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Command Undivided Attention.
    If you want your prospective customer’s undivided attention, one way to get it is through activating fear in the brain’s amygdala—the emotional hot button-that reacts in flight or fight mode.
  2. Encourage Thinking.
    Once you have undivided attention, take quick advantage of it by encouraging your prospect to pause and think.
  3. Be the Problem Solver.
    Your prospect wants easy and quick solutions, especially in this media multitasking world. Become their virtual problem solver.
  4. Organize Yourself First So You Can Organize Them.
    When attention is split apart, you must do the heavy lifting of organizing your message and quickly delivering it with clarity. Confusion kills interest.
  5. Relieve Anxiety.
    Since loss of gray matter creates anxiety, be the salvation in your prospect’s life to relieve it. Be credible. Solve problems. Be your prospect’s hero.

Let’s face it: there is nothing you can do to prevent your prospective customers from media multitasking. And you can’t save them from the risk of losing all-important brain gray matter. But you can be smarter and better positioned to sell with an awareness of how to present your messaging in a complex multimedia and multitasking world.

Digital Onslaught: I’m Losing My Brain, and What’s Left Is Being Rewired

I am convinced that the ubiquity of and access to knowledge—largely digital and increasingly mobile—that I have come to depend upon today is rewiring my brain. What I used to commit to memory, I increasingly assign to libraries on my computer and in the cloud. Am I being lazy, or old, or am I equipping myself to a new age of information—and analysis-on-command?

I am convinced that the ubiquity of and access to knowledge—largely digital and increasingly mobile—that I have come to depend upon today is rewiring my brain. What I used to commit to memory, I increasingly assign to libraries on my computer and in the cloud. Am I being lazy, or old, or am I equipping myself to a new age of information—and analysis-on-command? While the pursuit of knowledge is universal, perhaps how the next generation learns is different from how I learn, or used to learn. I’m late to the party, and I am either caught or willfully going through the transition.

I am not alone. The collective universe of the human brain is being rewired by digital communication: Out of necessity, the brain is being “trained” to skim instead of read. Even worse, British researchers are now theorizing and calling for further study on the possibility that simultaneous multi-screen viewing may destroy brain grey matter.

To counteract this “danger,” perhaps it is necessary to set aside time to read—the way we used to. Parents should assign books for their kids to read from cover-to-cover, and preferably in print and not on tablets. I make sure to read The Economist in print from cover to cover, but I had better put some books back in the mix fast. Discipline dictates that you should not rely solely on screens to absorb knowledge—because maybe you won’t absorb any all, and even if you do, it won’t be accurate.

One expert—who is committed to reading books online—says the only way to absorb knowledge on a screen is to physically take notes on what you’ve just read. The act of writing helps to commit the content to memory.

This is pretty serious stuff. I wonder if we really are having our brains rewired—or diminished—by digital media, just what do society, education and family households need to do counteract this phenomenon? Yes, we need to skim, but the Slow Reading Movement needs to take hold.

You can start by not reading this blog—online that is.

Copywriting for the Left Brain/Right Brain

Writing copy for how the left brain and right brain processes information can make all the difference in your sales outcome. The left brain is customarily considered the area where people process information logically. The right brain is considered to be more creative. But when writing direct marketing copy, you must appeal to both hemispheres. After all the effort to get attention and deliver your message, ultimately it’s in the closing where you

Writing copy for how the left brain and right brain processes information can make all the difference in your sales outcome. The left brain is customarily considered the area where people process information logically. The right brain is considered to be more creative. But when writing direct marketing copy, you must appeal to both hemispheres. After all the effort to get attention and deliver your message, ultimately it’s in the closing where you make your logic-based sales pitch and move your prospective customer to an emotional place where they give themselves permission to buy.

The left hemisphere of your brain does, in fact, have more of a logic and mathematical focus. But to be creative, research finds both the left and right brain hemispheres are used. As marketers, we strengthen our message when we appeal to both the left brain and right brain with a formula to move our message along to our end goal of generating a lead, sale or contribution.

In any successful direct mail letter, landing page or other selling channel there are certain attributes that work well for the logic side of how we process information. Importantly, you need to bring your prospect back to emotion for the final close.

You should always interpret information for your readers, listeners and viewers. It’s the nuance of interpretation-not just throwing out information and letting it sit idly by-that is transformational in generating response. Here are some ways to appeal to logic:

  • Features versus Benefits. It’s easy to talk features of a product or service, but they need to be translated into benefits. Taken a step further, you need to spell out why those benefits are important.
  • Guarantee. Make it specific-not some fluff language that gives you wiggle room that doesn’t assure the prospective buyer. Give your customer 30 days, maybe 60 or 90 days to get a refund. Or how about a lifetime guarantee?
  • Pricing Presentation. Break down the price. Cost per day or month. Another approach: relate price to the cost of not buying the product.

Then when you’ve made your logical left brain appeal, you must move your reader to the emotional right brain. It’s ultimately emotion that will convert to a sale. Bring your prospect to becoming a customer with these conclusions:

  • This is Good. You must lead your reader, listener or viewer to conclude “this is good.”
  • This is Smart. If it’s good, then show them how “this is smart for me.”
  • Open the door to Permission to Act. When in the closing of your message, your copy leads your prospect logically and emotionally, take them to a place where in their mind they give themselves permission to buy.

Using a journey from the logical right brain to the emotional left brain, you give your prospect permission to respond. Do this and you will have done your job as a marketer.

10 Storytelling-in-Content Marketing Lessons Learned

Storytelling lifts content marketing into more powerful messaging. Today we share 10 lessons learned as a result of a content marketing series. This campaign was designed to energize volunteers and a base of followers, build a larger base of supporters and strengthen a brand with the long-term goal of monetization through product and

Storytelling lifts content marketing into more powerful messaging. Today we share 10 lessons learned as a result of a content marketing series. This campaign was designed to energize volunteers and a base of followers, build a larger base of supporters and strengthen a brand with the long-term goal of monetization through product and event sales.

During this campaign, we’ve seen, first-hand, the power of story with diverse styles of video content marketing that included interviews, behind-the-scenes stories building up to a major event, and the high viewership of the final long-form video

Regular readers of our blog may be aware that I am a member of a world-class international Barbershop Harmony Society champion chorus (we recently won our 12th Gold Medal competing among 31 groups from four countries in front of a live audience of 7,000 plus thousands tuning in via webcast). I handle the marketing for the organization (with assistance from Reinventing Direct co-author Perry Alexander). We have the latitude to explore new approaches, and we share them from time-to-time with readers like you.

Because it’s a music-based organization, and because we frequently use video as the primary messaging vehicle, we have come to realize the power of not just music, but overlaying storytelling.

Now that the six-month pre-contest campaign has concluded, we share 10 lessons we’ve learned from this campaign about storytelling and content marketing.

  1. Stimulate interest/earn trust: You audience probably isn’t interested in what you have to sell until you have stimulated their interest and earned their trust in your value to making their lives better.
  2. Give them unusual access: They want to be let in on what’s behind-the-scenes. Video can deliver this experience better than any other channel.
  3. Build tension/release with joy: Like any good story, add an element of tension, but let the audience experience joy. People will remember you for how you made them feel.
  4. Give context in your story: As an insider, it is your responsibility, as a storyteller, to set the stage. Refrain from using acronyms and jargon, so the viewer can appreciate the importance of an upcoming element of the story.
  5. Leverage the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Craft your story so it builds from one part to the next, so your audience, while fearing they’ll miss something, is looking for your message.
  6. Let characters be stars: If you have multiple people in the story, creatively develop a delivery vehicle so everyone can participate. (We had a crazy idea about how to include over 140 people, including myself, in a video. See the result here.)
  7. Put your audience inside the story. Don’t be detached. Invite them to come along with you.
  8. Encourage comments and reviews. Your audience will tell you what they think, so invite participation.
  9. The story dictates length: Many claim videos must be short. Not necessarily true. They must be tightly edited and move the story along. The final video in this series was 36 minutes long, and YouTube audience retention was higher than average, all the way to the end. Use YouTube analytics to reveal where fall-offs occur and to improve your overall storytelling.
  10. Strategically monetize: Think long-term about monetizing content marketing. In this series, coming into the all-important fourth quarter, this audience is pumped, which makes selling performance tickets, recordings and fundraising all the easier.

Beyond building the brand (and winning the contest), tangible results of this six-month campaign include combined video views of over 22,000 (still growing daily), website views spiking by four times over average, consistently strong email open and click rates, Facebook Fan page follower increase of 25 percent, and Twitter follower increase of 27 percent.

Bottom line: You must continue to offer multiple reasons using circular viralocity for people to return to your website. You do that by developing a compelling story and content.

Finally, a word about music and the brain, and why this storytelling campaign was so successful: Recent brain imaging studies are telling us more about the importance of singing or playing a musical instrument than we’ve known before. For instance, if you’re a manager or executive, chances are that as a child you sang or played a musical instrument. A recent study reveals that early musical training can be influential in determining an individual’s success.

And there’s more: Emotions encouraged by music activate similar frontal brain regions, and can have a significant impact on your marketing messaging.

Music has the power to create a pleasurable experience that can be described as “chills.” As chills increase, many changes in cerebral blood flow are seen in brain regions such as the amygdala. These same brain areas appear to be linked to reward, motivation, emotion and arousal, and are also activated in other pleasurable situations.

Storytelling works. The inclusion of relevant music in storytelling can stimulate and take people to desirable emotional places. And if you want reaction, make sure the music “chills.”

3 Copywriting Paths to Train the Brain

How the mind learns is vital for every marketer and copywriter to understand. Today we take a deeper dive into three approaches that sync together copywriting with brain function. Use these, and you can transform how your prospects absorb your copywriting and content messaging. These three pathways play on our brain’s hardwiring, mirroring neurons and

How the mind learns is vital for every marketer and copywriter to understand. Today we take a deeper dive into three approaches that sync together copywriting with brain function. Use these, and you can transform how your prospects absorb your copywriting and content messaging. These three pathways play on our brain’s hardwiring, mirroring neurons and chunking.

1. Repetition Hardwires New Learning
It’s difficult for people to learn a new behavior. That’s how we’re hardwired. To create new grooves in the mind and solidify new learning, use repetition. If you’ve written or evaluated a direct mail package, most likely you’ll observe repetition within a letter or across various components, such as a brochure, lift note, buck slip or order form. How many times have you heard feedback about copy along the lines of, “it keeps saying the same thing over and over.” When you repeat a thought (you might call it a golden thread), you shift the conscious absorption of information to the unconscious. Soon the brain is imprinted with new learning. Repetition can hardwire the brain for new learning.

2. Create a Metaphorical Mirror
One of the best ways to learn is by hearing a story or watching others. When we watch a video of a demonstration, our brain is activated in the same region as the person we’re watching. It’s the same with hearing a story. It’s a mirror neuron. Our basic survival depends on understanding the actions, intentions and emotions of others. We do it by feeling, not by thinking.

3. Chunking
It’s said the way to digest overwhelming data is to break it into chunks. That’s why, for example, this column is three approaches to leverage how the mind works through training. You can do it, too, in your messaging. Numbers, bullets, whatever structure you can use to chunk information for your prospects and customers will help them absorb it faster and more accurately.

Leveraging these three processes, and using them in copywriting, can train the brain and transform how you convey your message, and convert prospects into paying customers.