How well is your marketing going?

Marketing can be fun if you love it. It can also be fulfilling if it’s bearing fruit. But if it’s not, then it could be very frustrating. This frustration has been experienced by many marketers.

The good thing is that after some time trying to get things to work, we usually experience success. If you are on your way to this success, no matter how small it may be, what would you say is the biggest challenge?

Getting the right content? Getting a list of valid email contacts? Generating buzz with your campaigns?

Whatever the challenge is, we have something that will be of great help to you.

To succeed in your marketing efforts, you need some insights. In this article, we are sharing 10 secrets of marketing. These are secrets about the human brain.

Since the brain is what interprets the world for us, knowing a few things about it will surely help. This insight will help you develop a better marketing strategy and get you results more quickly.

Here’s what you need to know about the human brain to get your marketing campaigns right.

1. The human brain is self-serving

Do you love your friend more than yourself? What about your spouse or child?

You sure have a lot of love for the people close to you and can make great sacrifices for them.

But believe it or not, you love yourself more than you love them.

No wonder it’s said that you should love your neighbor as you love yourself.

This is because you naturally love yourself more than you love others.

Your brain is wired to look out for your well being. It seeks to ensure that you have the best of life. And with all the weight that life puts on our backs, some relief is certainly needed.

This is where the human brain comes in. It will easily identify the kind of things it knows will provide you with relief. And having identified those things, it will work to get you to them.

How does this work for you as a marketer?

Simple. You just have to prove that your product or service will relieve the buyer the stress he has.

That means that you need to identify what problem he seeks to have a solution to.

If you manage to do this, the prospect’s brain will handle the rest for you.

It will faithfully serve its owner by getting him to invest in that which will give him satisfaction and relief.

2. The brain loves deals

Remember the American game show Deal or No Deal?

The show attracted a massive viewership. There was the obvious benefit of winning 1 million dollars just for making the right choice. But there was also the tension and fear of losing big.

Today’s marketing incorporates different types of deals. One of the most popular is the coupon strategy. Coupons enable you to become eligible for a discount. It’s a way of making savings and that’s a deal.

If you tell someone that buying a product gives them an opportunity to get a $10 coupon, that’s a real deal. Rejecting that is not easy.

Consider the below statistics about coupons:

  • 36% of millennials and 29% of Gen Z often use coupons
  • 33% of millennials and 27% of Gen Z often check store ads in search for a sale
  • 70% of 25-34-year-olds prefer redeeming coupons and rebates with a phone

To see the real life importance of this, consider the stint of Ron Johnson at JC Penney. From a great success at Apple and Target, he was called upon to work out his magic at JC Penney.

Although his tenure there didn’t turn out to be what was expected, Ron Johnson’s mistakes were big.

One of the things he did was remove coupons and change the pricing model of the retail store. There were no more sales while all the prices were straightforward. You would think that this level of transparency would endear the company to customers.

It did the opposite.

Sales plummeted, market share reduced, jobs were lost and eventually, his strategy cost him his own job.

Do you want to avoid such a situation?

Give your customers and prospects a deal. Just look for a way of showing them how they can win something big and valuable.

3. Simple messages work better

Your marketing message is crucial to the success of your campaign.

Other things like images and colors aside, it’s the copy that sells the product. You should therefore put considerable effort in this.

The human brain simply wants to have it easy.

Some people say that the brain is lazy—it doesn’t want to get tired. Others say it’s just a lack of training since the brain can be trained to love work.

Anyway, let’s leave the arguments to the philosophers. What you want are results. So focus on the right thing. Look at your own behavior and judge for yourself.

If you were researching about a product, would you rather be told of the technical workings or simple functionality? Unless you are a mechanic buying an engine for your own car, you just want a simple explanation of how the new engine works.

As long as you’re okay with how it works and you see it working, you’re ready to buy. The same applies to your customers.

Give them complicated and technical information which they need to research so as to understand, and you’ll make it difficult for them to buy.

You need them to buy. But to buy, they need to understand your product. To understand your product, they need to understand the message in the copy.

If the brain has to work very hard to understand your product, your chances reduce drastically. So make the message clear and easy to understand and see decisions made more quickly.

4. The brain loves stories

If you were to look at most blog posts on the internet, you’ll realize that they employ storytelling in one way or another.

It’s not one long story from beginning to end, but somewhere in the post, you’ll find a story or two. It might be short, but it’s a story all the same.

This is not by accident or coincidence. Though it might be flowing naturally, it’s often intentional.

One of the best times for any child is spending time with granny. Not because they can play together, but because granny will always have stories which arouse the imagination of the child.

As an adult, you may not enjoy granny’s stories as the child does. However, stories still appeal to you more than plain facts and figures.

Consider a situation where you have to learn some moral lessons. You’re given two options.

The first is to watch a movie which shows the lives of real people making choices and the consequences of those choices. The other option is just reading the moral lessons as printed on a piece of paper.

Which option would you take?

When using stories in your marketing campaigns, do not put too much emphasis on your product. It should feature in the narrative but the main focus should be on the story. The story is what the audience will relate with.

A good story will make it easy for consumers to connect the experience in the story with your product.

The story should also be transformational. It should show how life becomes better so that your product can be associated with an improved life.

5. Visceral emotions overrule logic

The battle between emotions and logic still rages. So far, emotion is the clear winner though logic keeps trying to overturn that win. This is very possible but only if the mind is well trained in discipline.

Discipline is not easy to attain. There is much work that needs to be done. For that reason, the majority give in to their emotions quite easily.

Among the many emotions, there are some which are hard-wired in the brain. It’s very difficult for these emotions not to be expressed or acted upon. These are referred to as visceral emotions.

They are deep feelings which are also powerful enough to drive action, even unknowingly. Responses to these emotions can at times seem like reflex action.

Three visceral feelings to think about are fear, anger and excitement.

When you come up with a message targeting fear, you can bet that there will be responses. The same applies to anger and excitement. And among these, fear might as well be the most powerful.

But you can’t just decide to push forth a message of fear. You will have to understand your audience first then craft your message accordingly. Having done it well, the logic part of their brain will not stop them from acting as you expect.

Your message can be in the form of building a fear of losing something special. It could also take the form of creating room for excitement by promising consumers something they love.

Logic will still come in somewhere, though not as the primary decision maker but secondary. The brain will just work to justify what emotions have already approved.

This will be a case of buying emotionally then justifying it logically.

6. The confirmation bias

We are talking about secrets and here is one you really need to know.

The confirmation bias is the theory that the brain seeks out information that agrees with the opinion it already holds.

Does a customer believe your brand truly cares for the environment? If this person researched about this, he will do so to confirm it, not to prove it false.

For instance, you could have company ABC believed to be caring for the environment. Search phrases on the internet would look like this, “How ABC cares for the environment,” “ABC’s solution for the environment” etc.

What will be happening is that the researcher will be unknowingly seeking to confirm what he already believes. Very rarely will the search include phrases like, “Why you should not support ABC” or “Why ABC’s solution will fail.”

This is true even in your own case as a marketer.

Whenever you have what you believe is a great marketing idea, how do you handle it?

If you’re like the majority, you won’t focus on finding out the possible weaknesses of your idea. You’ll instead be looking for people who will support your idea and help you implement it.

Utilizing this in your marketing involves simply ensuring that you create a good first impression.

Those first impressions will be hard to shake off. Once you wow them, they will only seek to know more good about you. They will even disregard the apparent bad which is presented about you.

7. The herding effect

The word herding is used for cattle when they are in groups. While herding is for cattle, teams and groups are for people.

But the term “herding” is still valid when talking about one unique human attribute.

When you go shopping at a physical store, the experience is definitely different from online shopping. You can touch the product, ask another shopper what they think about it, get the opinion of the friend you tagged along etc.

But what if you’re shopping online?

One of the clearest ways the herding effect is seen is by understanding why customers buy a certain product. Especially a completely new product recently launched into the market.

On the internet, the chief determinant is the customer review and star rating provided by other shoppers. And the online businesses know it.

Take a look at some of the online businesses. They place the reviews by other customers and star ratings close to the products. This helps the shopper easily and quickly determine whether the product is of value based on other people’s experiences.

If the comments and ratings are mostly positive, the shopper will buy the product expecting it to work. If the comments and ratings are negative, he will conclude that the product won’t be helpful to him.

And that’s how the decision to buy or not to will be made.

8. Brains love images

Many people started embracing internet in the early 2000s. In those days, websites were full of text as the primary mode of sharing information. Gradually, that changed to the use of images.

The human brain understands things visually. And so reading text, the brain will create the visual images then use them to help you understand.

This is how reading story books or novels works. The text paints a picture then the brain “digests” that. Therefore, it’s only natural that the brain will find it easier to understand visual content than text.

This is because the images are already a semi-processed form. It’s as though the brain skips one step during processing. This makes it easier and faster for you.

Images also have an effect on how we receive the information we’re presented with. The more visual the information, the more likely we are to like and embrace it. Images are simply a better way of communicating than pure text.

9. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)

One of the best examples of how the fear of missing out has been used is the “Stories” feature in Facebook and Instagram. This feature keeps a post for only 24 hours. After that it disappears.

Whereas the posts which go on the timeline are always available, stories are completely gone in one day. If you want to know or see what your friend is up to, you have to check it out fast.

And to help you do that, there are notifications to alert you when something is posted on “Stories.”

But what’s really going on behind the scenes?

It turns out that someone understood how the human brain works and used it to his advantage.

The human brain is keen to help you experience all the good things in life. And just as is the case with posts in Facebook stories, many good things aren’t available at all times. So, when you come across one of them, you have to get it as soon as possible.

For consumers, this is the reasoning behind purchases which were never planned for.

They’re however bought because the time is just right. The products will either be out of stock shortly or the price is low for only a short time before going higher.

There will always be a sense of urgency which screams “BUY NOW!!!”

10. The need to reciprocate

Have you ever noticed that you tend to want to be good to those who are good to you? It’s as though you feel obligated to repay them for the good they’ve done for you.

If you ever felt the pressure of that feeling, worry not. There’s nothing wrong with you. That feeling is very normal.

A sociologist known as Phillip Kunz tested out reciprocity and got interesting results. He decided to send handwritten Christmas cards to 600 strangers and see what would happen.

Some of the cards were just wishes while others included photos of him with his family. After some time, he started getting responses. Believe it or not, out of the 600 strangers, 200 responded to him.

One of the most interesting responses was a 3-page letter from one of the strangers.

The big question was, why would these people respond to a stranger?

The answer was simple: they were just responding in kind. Since he had been kind enough to send them a card, they just felt that they should also send him something. And in the case of the 3-page letter, give him even more than he gave.

It’s natural for the brain to urge you to do good to the person who is good to you. If you don’t, unless you’ve done your conscience some damage, you’ll be tormented by guilt.

You however don’t have to invoke guilt. Just sow the seeds in kind and wait for the willing customers to show up.


Ignorance is costly; knowledge is valuable. Acquiring knowledge results in being empowered and that helps in making better decisions.

Using what you’ve learned, act quickly to make the necessary changes to your marketing strategy. The better the results you get from your marketing efforts, the more satisfaction you get.

Your work will also be more fun.

10 Secrets of the Human Brain to Use in Your Marketing

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