Harnessing unconscious bias to influence buying decisions

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ave you ever had something come to your attention, like a word, a name or something you’ve seen and then soon after started seeing or hearing it everywhere you go? Like a creepy amount that starts to seem almost fortuitous, or like some kind of sign? Well, you’re not alone.

As hard as it might be to accept, every person - including you and me - is influenced by unconscious biases. In the example above, there are two unconscious biases at play – the first, known as the frequency illusion, or the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, and the second is known as confirmation bias.

When you start to see or hear something with an improbably high frequency, it’s not generally because that thing is present more frequently but rather because your unconscious mind is taking more notice of it or seeking it out. And while this frequency is an illusion, it has a powerfully influential effect on our decision-making.

A study from Stanford University in 2000 showed that repeated exposure is a form of classical conditioning and on average, words that are shown repeatedly are perceived more positively. So, the more you notice something – whether by illusion or otherwise – you’ll tend to have a more positive association with it. This concept is relevant to marketers and other professionals seeking to grow a business because if they apply them effectively, then they will have an infinitely greater advantage over their competitors who don’t.

To achieve this effectiveness, there are only two things you need to remember:

  1. Ensure you have consistent messaging and visual cues that people recognise, and;
  2. Don’t limit your advertising to one or two platforms - use as many as your prospects do and make sure you retarget them after you’ve caught their attention.

If your prospects repeatedly recognise your brand and message, they will have a more positive association with it, will seek it out, and will be more comfortable transacting with a brand they feel they know and trust. They might even believe that their transaction is fortuitous or meant to be!

For professionals who own a brand that isn’t quite reaching its full potential, or who aren’t sure what platforms to amplify their brand across should read on for advice on how to better influence the buying decisions of their prospective customers …..

Get your brand in order

Branding is the effective communication of a value proposition that is compelling to an audience. It has recognisable and consistent visuals including logos, colours and fonts – which the audience will begin to associate with the value proposition.

If you work within an organisation which struggles to articulate their brand proposition – fear not because you are not alone!  

There are five critical steps to developing a great brand:

  1. First, define your audience and their common characteristics;
  2. Identify the main problems faced by your audience;
  3. Define your key value propositions in response to these problems;
  4. Define your brand archetype/s; and
  5. Develop compelling & concise key messaging that connects with your audience.

A brand that is consistent with a compelling message will benefit from an increase is trust, recognition and ultimately result in sales uplift and a decrease in marketing spend.


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