Choices are everywhere.
Yes or no? Go or stay? Spend or save? To be or not to be?
In fact, we make mini decisions every moment of our lives: what to wear, what to eat, what to prioritize, where to spend our time, energy and money. Sometimes this process is conscious, while other times those decisions are made intuitively and subconsciously, whether by habit, predisposition or gut reaction. We know we are born with free will, but so often, we’re unaware of just how often we exercise this gift.
As marketers, everything we do is focused on driving decision, on bending our audiences’ free will in our favor. Through market research, carefully crafted messages, beautiful visuals and strategic communications, we manipulate the conscious mind to put our offering on the “need” list and motivate people to buy, give or engage.
But what about the subconscious – those psychological factors that linger below the surface, but have a deep impact on the decision-making process? What about the intuitive process that’s happening before the conscious mind kicks in, that serves as the emotional filter through which our brains interpret the decision?
In his book, Launch, Jeff Walker identifies nine “triggers” so ingrained in human nature that they have an almost universal influence on the subconscious decision-making process. We’ve broken these psychological triggers down into three categories – triggers within your brand, triggers within your peers and triggers within yourself – and today, we’re going to share how you can play up your brand’s best traits, harness the power of community and speak to the hearts of your audience to influence decision every time.
Triggers Within Your Brand
These are traits that make your brand totally irresistible to the unconscious minds of people who interact with you. They are:
Very quickly, people will decide if you know what you’re talking about, if they trust you, and if they like you – and if their answer is “no”, it won’t matter if your product is the greatest in the world.
Humans naturally respond to people in positions of authority, which can be created by expertise, thought leadership and content marketing. Trust is established in many ways, but most strongly through consistent quality and service and transparency. And finally, don’t be afraid to show some personality! Being nice goes a long way towards being likable, along with the way you share your story, quirks and what makes you you!
Reciprocity takes trust, authority and likeability to the next level by actually causing people to want to give back to you. People naturally want to help those who help them, so when you provide resources, free content or free gifts with no strings attached, it triggers a feeling of reciprocity in your audience that will make them want to support (read: buy) from you.
Triggers Within Your Peers
Peer pressure is so much more than what your mama warned you about in middle school. The reality is that humans are relationship-driven creatures, who interact in societies and are heavily influenced by those around us – from the desire to bond with others to the need to compete for survival. That’s why peer influences, such as these three triggers, are so powerful in our decision-making process:
- Social Proof
Humans crave connection, and when a product or offering gives us the opportunity to be a part of community – whether that means attending an event with thousands of others or just joining a virtual tribe of people who like, use, wear, eat or buy a certain brand – it adds immense value beyond the product’s practical use.
Social proof refers to the endorsement or vetting of a product by other people like us or people we respect. This is why unbiased reviews, testimonials or influencer outreach can be so effective – after all, “if he or she likes it, it MUST be good.”
And finally, scarcity introduces the negative side of peer pressure – a trigger that plays into our fears of missing out or not having something our peers have. Knowing there’s a limited quantity of something other people want brings out primal survival instincts, and can be one of the most powerful tools for creating urgency and driving quick decisions.
Triggers Within Yourself
There are certain emotions and behaviors that exist entirely within ourselves, apart from outside influences, that are extremely powerful triggers in human nature and decision making. The number and variation of emotions that influence decisions and behavior are endless (which is why great branding and storytelling are so important!), but there are a few very specific psychological triggers that your brand can tap into to create an extremely compelling campaign or launch. These are:
- Events and Ritual
Both anticipation and ritual are behavioral patterns that drive action – looking forward to something as well as making something a habit creates powerful experiences that bring people together and build loyalty to brands. Figure out ways that you can harness these emotions by providing teasers, inserting yourself into existing seasons and rituals, and creating real-time moments and experiences that people can look forward to or count on.
The next time you launch a product or campaign, look for ways you can play up these psychological triggers and influence both the subconscious and conscious decision-making process. For more information and detail on each trigger, check out Jeff Walker’s Launch – a fascinating look into how marketers can influence audiences through carefully crafted campaigns.
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