As incredibly complicated and intricate the miracle of our modern brain is. It is crazy to think one basic, primal part of the human mind is no different than that of a lizard. So how can you use this little fact to our advantage and motivate people to purchase your products or take action?
To find the answers, we’re going to dive deep down the psychological rabbit hole of what triggers and motivates people to buy. It’s something that’s literally coded into our subconscious as an evolutionary response to our surroundings.
Essentially, if you can understand how the brain works, you can predict how it’s likely to react in certain situations. It’s then possible to use this knowledge to help influence people to make purchase decisions.
That all may sound like some kind of sinister mind manipulation, but actually it isn’t. Think of it more as a better way to communicate in a way the brain is designed to accept. Essentially, you’re learning to speak the brain’s language so you can have a more direct conversation.
Once you grasp the basic principles, this approach will become the foundation for all your marketing efforts from now on. It’s actually a relatively simple concept, but incredibly powerful when implemented correctly.
So, let's start off by talking about the evolution of our brains, by going back to what we’ll refer to as Human Brain version 1.0. You can also think of this as Lizard Brain or Jellyfish Brain.
These very primitive brains were designed to keep us alive and ensure the ongoing success of our species. As such, there were a few basic but very important things that Human Brain 1.0 needed to focus on.
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Firstly: sustenance. Without food and water, we couldn’t live, so sustenance has always been the most powerful of motivators.
Secondly: safety. We were always on the lookout for danger, making sure that nothing – either predators or hostile rival groups – was going to sneak up and get the jump on us. Trying to figure out how we could protect ourselves and our family groups was as huge a preoccupation back then as it is today.
Finally, we needed to procreate, which is pretty self-explanatory.
Now let’s skip forward a few hundred thousand years, to the age of modern day marketing and sales copywriting. It’s clear that even now, these primitive emotions are calling the shots just as they did back when we first learned to walk on two legs. That’s right: they’re the very foundation of what it is that motivates people to buy.
Still unconvinced? Then let's take a look at a few examples of how Primitive Brain 1.0 is still very active in the modern world.
There are literally entire cable networks that are devoted to cooking and travel shows. All these shows do are visit new places and talk about the local cuisine. Even on Primetime TV shows like Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef really touch that primitive nerve.
There’s even an entire niche on the Internet devoted to food porn! Cookery books are amongst the bestselling of all book categories, and how many times have you been out to dinner and you or your friends simply HAD to take pictures of the food and share it on social media?
Think about it… why did you do that? If you boil it down, you just took a picture of a bunch of calories whose sole function is to keep you alive. But your subconscious has created this desire and attraction that go far beyond the need for basic sustenance.
Analysing this from a purely logical standpoint, it’s pretty ridiculous. After all, it's just food, right? It’s just fuel to keep us alive. And yet there’s a multi-billion dollar industry devoted entirely to creating and televising shows about it.
Simple! Because it plays directly on Lizard Brain 1.0’s deepest fears and desires.
So what about that primal need to feel safe?
Think about the whole prepper or survivalist community: another huge industry that is based upon the premise of some unknown and imminent danger that we need to prepare for.
In fact, there’s actually a lot of data out there that shows that – at least in some key respects – there has never has been a safer time to be alive than right now. Food is more readily available than ever, and on average people enjoy better health. There are fewer wars, and a smaller percentage of the population die as a result of war than ever before in human history.
And yet, all you have to do is watch or listen to the daily news and you would think that the entire planet is in imminent danger of destruction, or that some new crazy bogeyman is out there to get us. Of course, this is something the news networks do entirely on purpose. As the saying goes: good news doesn't sell, but bad news does!
And why does bad news sell?
You got it: it's because Lizard Brain and Jellyfish Brain rule your decision making process whether you know it or not.
Finally, let’s talk about the need to procreate. As any glance at a magazine, TV or movie will show you, sex really does sell. The vast majority of television, print and digital media advertising is focussed on delivering one single message: that if you don't purchase and use a particular product, you’re not going to be good enough to attract a mate.
Let’s look at it this way: from a logical standpoint, there is absolutely no reason to have a sexy car commercial, given that a car is a functional device that exists only to get you from point A to point B. But in the vast majority of commercials, cars are portrayed as aspirational items that make you incredibly attractive to the opposite sex. This sends the signal that you are successful, or – in other words – that you’re a worthy mate. Or at least that’s the way Lizard Brain 1.0 sees it.
Okay, so all this Lizard Brain stuff is pretty interesting, but by now you’re probably wondering: how is it going to help me sell more products on my eComm store or on Amazon?
Well, it turns out all this crazy stuff is actually very important, since – as we’ve seen – Lizard Brain 1.0 is still controlling the vast majority of our decisions. And here’s the key: if Lizard Brain is in a state of fear then it will override all our other more sophisticated decision making processes.
Another way to think about it is this: inside every adult brain lives a six-month old baby. If a baby is afraid, it will cry and throw fits and avoid anything that appears to be a source of danger.
Lizard Brain 1.0 is exactly the same. It will avoid anything it feels is a threat, at any cost. As a clever marketer, it’s your job to eliminate those fears, whether it’s the fear the product will not work, or that it’s too expensive or that you’re not a trustworthy source. You HAVE to make that inner baby feel safe.
From an evolutionary standpoint, this all makes perfect sense. After all, our brains didn’t just magically turn in to these amazing biological supercomputers we now possess. They evolved more like the layers of an onion, starting off with Lizard Brain 1.0 and building outwards from there. While Lizard Brain 1.0 was great at handling the job of keeping us safe with fight or flight responses, finding food and breeding, other layers were necessary to handle more complex and nuanced forms of activity, including reasoning and social interaction.
We can group these other functions into two main layers: Mouse Brain 2.0 and Modern Brain 3.0.
Mouse brain 2.0 provides more memory and a wider range of emotions. It allows mammals to do things like learn from the experiences and anticipate danger, rather than merely reacting to it.
Finally, there’s Modern Brain 3.0. With a hundred billion cells and 500 trillion connections, this part of the brain allows us to solve difficult problems and navigate our very complex social environments. It’s also responsible for imagination, culture and the ability to figure out what other people are thinking based on social cues.
Even so, despite the high-powered reasoning capabilities we humans possess, the vast majority of our decisions are made initially by the first responder concealed deep within our subconscious. That’s right: Lizard Brain 1.0. They’re then justified and rationalized by slower but higher functioning layers of the onion, including our subtle and self-aware Modern Brain 3.0.
Now you know this little secret, you’ll never look at advertising the same way again. And you’re primed and ready to deploy your newfound knowledge to create incredibly effective sales videos, ad copy or presentations. It’s even super effective when used in everyday conversation, helping to persuade people and get your message across.
In summary, there are three crucial things you need to do when writing sales or video copy:
1. Figure out what fears Lizard Brain 1.0 may have, and eliminate them. You should also try to fuel any potential subconscious desires providing for its base needs. Yep, you got it – the Big Three: food, safety and attractiveness.
2. Make your product more attractive to the more social, creative part of the brain: Mouse Brain 2.0. If your product is in alignment with whatever social settings or culture the customer may have, then you’re on the road to success. Remember: your tribe is their tribe.
3. Finally, make sure that the more rational, sophisticated part of the brain –Modern Brain 3.0 – has all the information and data it needs to make an informed purchase decision. If you can appeal to all three of the major areas of the brain then you have all the bases covered, meaning you’ve given yourself the best possible chance of gaining that sale.
To really hone your thinking, a great exercise is to start looking at all of the advertising that you come across, whether it's online, TV or print. Can you identify those key trigger points we’ve discussed in this article? What are the real basic functions and purposes for those products, and how did the advertiser portray them in order to influence our subconscious brains to make a decision?
With just a little practice, you’ll find you can quickly pinpoint the key factors in any given sales pitch, just like the key moments in a movie or TV show. The next step is to use this insight to create an effective sales pitch for your own product, by satisfying all the criteria required by the three evolutionary layers of the brain.
In the next blog, we’ll show you exactly how to do this, by taking a detailed look at some effective script writing structures that have been used universally with great success in a wide variety of industries.
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