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.

Triggering Dopamine Shots in Copywriting

When your phone rings, or you hear that chime telling you an email, text or other notification has come in, what do you do? Most likely you drop everything to see what it is. It’s a conditioned response, and there are reasons why your brain stops thinking and checks what just came to your attention. It’s called …

Marin blog brainWhen your phone rings, or you hear that chime telling you an email, text or other notification has come in, what do you do? Most likely you drop everything to see what it is. It’s a conditioned response, and there are reasons why your brain stops thinking and checks what just came to your attention. It’s called the fear of missing out.

But let’s dig a bit deeper for a moment about what happens in the brain. It’s actually dopamine at work. And in a moment I’ll share three ideas about how marketers and copywriters can use it to grab attention.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter chemical that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to sense rewards, but to take action to move toward them.

When we’re alerted, a dose of dopamine is naturally released. It makes us feel important. When we’re rewarded, we feel good. And if the reward is unexpected, the mood of pleasure will soar.

Technology, it would seem, is wiring the primitive human brain more and more to expect and crave dopamine. We want to hear a chime to distract us (especially if we’re bored or need an attitude boost). We’re rewarded when that happens. The more dopamine “shots” our bodies release, the more it takes to experience the same lift next time. It’s a vicious cycle.

How do we inject a dopamine shot in our marketing and copywriting? Three ideas:

  • Alert prospects and customers so they’re the “first to know.” When people fear missing out, they want to be the first to know of an important development, new product or news. And, when your prospect is the first to know, they get another dopamine fix when they’re first to tell others and pass it along (to your benefit).
  • Share an inside story. People like to know the inside scoop. Combine insider information with storytelling. Then spin insider information as your unique selling proposition.
  • Leverage limited time offers. When there is a limited time a product is available, it intensifies desire to acquire it now.

What other dopamine shot ideas do you suggest in copy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Want more tips and advice about how to align your messaging with how the primitive mind thinks so you can attract more customers? I’ve put together a seven-step guide to help you titled “When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.” Or get all the details in my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code” available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore.