Everyone knows, a customer’s decision to buy is not rational. Whether the choice is trivial, like choosing a beer brand, a shirt color, or a menu item, or is important like choosing a spouse, a religion, or a job, careful consideration takes a back seat. We choose the option that feels right at the time and, afterwards, we marshal the facts that support our choice.
Our rational mind has input into our choices, but the final selection is made by the other part of our mind, the non-conscious part accounting for over 99% of our brain’s power. Though we are not even aware of that part of our brain, it keeps our blood pumping and our food digesting, it enables us to make sense of what we see and hear, and it allows us to speak and never wonder where the next word is coming from.
The common definition of persuasion—convincing by means of reasoned argument—is wrong. Since our choices are not made rationally, rational information will have little effect on them. To sell more successfully, we have to focus on feeling. Emotional feelings speak to the non-conscious mind.To sell more successfully, we have to focus on feeling. Click To Tweet Emotional feelings speak to the non-conscious mind. Click To Tweet
Though not a psychologist, the poet Maya Angelou intuitively understood.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
For those trying to persuade others to buy their product, a rational reason to buy can be easily translated into an emotional reason to buy. Any advantage in a product or service can be “laddered up.” Laddering is raising a practical advantage to the level of a feeling. Begin with any attribute, such as calcium in milk and ask, “Why is that calcium desirable?” Whatever answer you get, ask again, “Why is that desirable?” Repeat until the answer is a feeling. This simple process quickly raises the physical attribute of calcium in milk from “builds strong bones” (a rational reward) to something like “I feel like a good parent” (an emotional reward).
The part of our brain that makes decisions is more motivated by feelings than by factual information. That part of our brain understands and speaks the language of emotion, using fear, desire, anger, or love to communicate with our conscious selves.The part of our brain that makes decisions is more motivated by feelings than by factual… Click To Tweet
Emotional rewards also draw their power from immediacy and certainty.Emotional rewards also draw their power from immediacy and certainty. Click To Tweet
We are all much more motivated by what will happen right now, than by what will happen later. Getting $80 today is highly motivating and, for most people, more motivating than a promise of $100 in a month. The value of a reward diminishes with time. To return to the milk example, “Strong bones” will not happen with the first glass. Strong bones take time. But with the first glass you hand to your child, you will feel like a good parent.“Strong bones” will not happen with the first glass. Strong bones take time. Click To Tweet
We are also much more motivated by what’s certain than by what may be likely but uncertain. Strong bones are likely to follow from drinking milk, but it’s not for sure. However, you will certainly feel like a good parent for serving milk.
By focusing on feeling, you can transform your advantage from rational into emotional, from delayed into immediate, and from uncertain into certain. By focusing on feeling, you can make your offer much more powerful.By focusing on feeling, you can make your offer much more powerful. Click To Tweet
James C. Crimmins has been a professional persuader for 27 years, mainly as chief strategic officer of DDB Chicago working with global brands. Crimmins combines his scientific, professional, and academic background to explain how the revolution in mind science changes the conventional wisdom of influence and can make anyone a more successful persuader. He is the author of 7 Secrets of Persuasion: Leading-Edge Neuromarketing Techniques to Influence Anyone.