One of my favorite digital marketers is Icaro de Carvalho. In his book “The Power of Words” he says we are living now at the age of distraction. That means that attention spam is only getting shorter as we are bombarded with information anywhere we go. Getting people’s attention has been only getting harder and that is the reason why communication has become one of the key factors for digital performance.
When people access a website, for example, the message needs to get their attention, and also lead them to an action.
In this blog article, I will introduce you to the idea of mental triggers, which is basically a communication strategy that can catch people’s attention and lead them to make an action.
The concept of this type of communication can be applied to websites, video ads, images, blog articles or even podcasts. If attention span is only getting shorter, that is one of the areas we need to tackle.
Mental triggers can be focused on people’s pain, desires, fears, curiosity, but depending on how people use, it can be controversial. Imagine for a second you are selling insurance and your website headline is something like:
This is actually not bad, but how can we make it better? Think about the reasons why someone wants buy insurance, what are the feelings involved in this purchase. My answer would be fear is on the top of the ranking.
If I was going to focus on people’s fear to create a headline, I would change it to something like:
More appealing, isn’t it?
Taking this approach, you can create more impactful headlines, which means getting attention from more people, and make them more susceptible to make an action.
There are several types of mental triggers that I have tested and explored throughout the years.
Social proof is something that proves that people have been buying your product or services and that they endorse your business. And this could be demonstrated through testimonials from satisfied customers, sales volume, or social data that convince prospects to become customers. To apply this concept in your content such as videos, blog articles or newsletter is by saying things like “X people have already purchased this product/service” or “X success cases” or “Method proven by X people. See results achieved”.
Scientific proof is another mental trigger that is similar to social proof, but this one consists on proving that something works using numbers, data, studies, among others. Here are a few phrases you can use: “Harvard study points out that X% has this problem, but they are not even aware of it” or “40% of people that suffer from this pain could have serious problems”. But be careful with this one, I am not suggesting that you can make up the data. Real marketing is when you tell the truth. Making up a lie, could make your ad work and generate results. However, this will be short term, and here we build it for the long term. Otherwise, you will sell once, but never again.
Providing helpful information is one of the most powerful mental triggers, this can also be called as the authority trigger. That is when you provide information that people wouldn’t normally find easily or would even have to pay to get it. This could be exemplified as a lawyer giving out tips to people after they have been charged with a DUI. Or a physician giving recommendations of knee exercises to decrease the risks of a knee surgery in the future. This type of content establishes authority and people will start seeing a business as reference for a specific type of service.
This trigger encourages people to make the decision as soon as possible. This strategy is used in negotiations all the time. When scarcity is not used, potential clients might think: “Oh, I’ll buy this tomorrow”. In this case, scarcity makes the person to think about the “now” and not the “later”. Scarcity can be simplified to anything that is limited. How do I use scarcity with phrases or words? “Latest units”, “Limited stock” or “Offer valid for today only”. Again, be careful with this because if the offer is not true, this can hurt a business in the long term.
This one consists on showing people that what is being offered is a new product, service, or solution. Basically, it is when you bring something that is unheard of, using phrases such as “This is completely new on the market. Innovative!”, “New formula”, “Latest version”. The building expectations approach is when you prepare people for something that is coming up. Christmas & Black Friday, for example, are great opportunities to explore this trigger.
Now that I have listed some mental triggers that I have used in my campaigns, it’s my duty to share a the ones that hardly ever work.
This one can be summed up in the following sentence: “If you don’t want it, you can leave.” In a negotiation, there are two pillars, the willingness to buy and the willingness to sell. Generally, people are more willing to sell than someone is to buy. So, people try to shift this scenario completely by activating the neglect trigger. They will claim: “This offer is not for everyone.”, This product is not for people who does X”.
That’s when people use curiosity to entice an user to click on a link or an ad to find out more about it. Some phrases and words that I have seen being used is: “Learn all the secrets of XXXX.”, “Teacher reveals the XX method and made thousands of people mad!”. “This is something that you won’t find out even if you Google it”.
On the other hand, when this is used combined with the authority trigger, it can be a good strategy. For example, “Five mistakes people make when starting on digital marketing”. Using real information to take a clickbait approach can increase the number of views, clicks, and leads of a campaign. The way you don’t want to use this is implying something contrary to what most people think. Phrases such as: “Lose weight while sleeping.”, “Get thin by eating lots of chocolate”, “See how I made my first million with only one thousand dollars”. By doing this, your content will look extremely fake, it might incite people to interact with a page or ad but will hardly bring any sales.
With this being said, what are the mental triggers you can apply to your business?
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