Use subconscious marketing to boost sales

Contributors

@paul-boag


Business Benefits

Improve sales revenue by leaving consumers with a positive sense of your brand.


Communicate a sense of certainty by adding elements that evoke tradition, like referencing your brand’s year of establishment.

We hate uncertainty and so if your brand stands for stability, safety, security, reassurance and righteousness this can be appealing to certain segments.

For example, the UK retailer Marks & Spencer effectively communicates longevity and tradition by prominently displaying the date it was established (EST 1884) immediately below its logo. This is a subtle, but effective way of demonstrating that it represents tradition and certainty.

Build a sense of belonging by inviting customers to participate in community-focused activities.

People are extremely social animals. We love being part of a group, community, or team. This implicit motivation includes relatedness (attachments), collaboration, conformism, and empathy.

Tesco demonstrates a desire for empathy and compassion for people less fortunate than ourselves through their Community Food Connection initiative. This aims to deliver surplus food from stores to local charities for free.

Help your customers feel recognized and appreciated by offering personalized services or requesting their feedback on your products.

Humans like to be perceived as valuable and appreciated by others. This motivation includes being noticed by others and feeling respected. For example, Reddit Karma and awards encourage participation by providing recognition of exceptional posts and comments.

Boost customers’ sense of individuality by offering unusual or customizable product options.

Individuality is the feeling that we are independent thinking and can act according to our own free will. This is defined as being original, the master of our own destiny, having autonomy and being self-centered.

Airbnb appeals to the non-conformist traveler who wants to experience the real essence of a city or neighborhood. To capitalize on this implicit goal Airbnb created lifestyle experiences. The example below is for “Maverick Biker,” a package designed for the curious cyclist who wants to visit Cuba.

One way of appealing to our sense of individuality is to allow customers to customize your product. For example the footwear company Converse does this well by letting users customize their shoes. They also allow customers to have their name printed on the final version.

Harness customers’ desire for power by offering exclusive deals or setting up a hierarchy like loyalty club levels or leader boards.

The desire to have influence and persuasion over others. This involves having authority, a hierarchy, competition, and prestige.

Online gaming sites use power and the desire for mastery to motivate users through a number of strategies, including competition with other players and leader boards. Zynga, for instance, also allows users to play against friends on Facebook, and it uses levels to communicate progress and the competence of players.

Virgin Atlantic uses prestige to promote its first class service and airport lounges by comparing their Clubhouses to a private members’ club. This creates the impression of exclusivity, but also of power and influence.

Encourage people’s search for self-development by offering informative, deep-thinking content.

This motivation relates to self-improvement and includes understanding of how mechanisms work, altruism, critical questioning, and purpose.

The Farnam Street blog is a great example of a website that is focused on helping people broaden their knowledge and improve how they think. These benefits are explicitly communicated. However, the site also targets our subconscious desire for a more meaningful and purposeful existence. This is one of the most powerful motivations that people can have.

Appeal to customers’ sexuality and parent bonding motivations by displaying aspirational couple and family images.

Sex is, of course, one of our most basic motivators. It helps to ensure the continuation of our species. But importantly, it is also about intimacy, lust, and the parent-child bond.

IKEA’s homepage is a great example of communicating the parent-child bond. The headline and image resonate strongly to any parent thinking of shopping at IKEA.

Support customers in looking after their bodies (physiology) by offering perks to encourage exercise and good eating.

Apart from the basic need for adequate nutrition, physiology also includes avoiding injury, promoting behavior that maintains good health, and a desire to live in non-polluted environments.

The Zombies Run game uses gamification and social proof to promote a healthier and more active lifestyle. It allows users to create their own story while they walk or run, to prompt more frequent exercise. The app also aims to encourage users to run for longer periods of time than they might otherwise have done.

Appeal to people’s rationality by providing logical reasons to purchase from you as well.

Attention, preferences, and loyalty are most strongly driven by our subconscious mind, but it’s still important to have a strong rational motive to purchase. So to wrap up:

  • Ensure rational benefits are aligned to a customer’s implicit goals.
  • Simplify the user’s decision making process to retain attention and build satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Do extensive user research to uncover motivation and intent.
    • Try implicit association tests instead of directly asking users what their motivations are.
    • Continue to research and experiment with this. Just like user personas, this is an evolving model and accuracy improves with time and insight.
  • Use implicit motivations to form the basis of hypotheses for building more successful online experiments.