How to tap into your customer’s 200,000 year old ‘Primal Brain’

Evolution hasn’t caught up yet.

200,000 years ago the earliest humans walked from the Savannah Plain and spread across the world…

Today we live in a cutting-edge world that’s pushing the boundaries in nanotechnology, driver-less cars and smartphones.

Yet we haven’t really changed…

Our ‘ancient’ brain is still hard-wired to respond when our emotions are triggered.

You see we evolved our ‘fight or flight’ instinct to help us best face threats (from Sabre Tooth Tigers and rampaging Mammoths to angry humans from other tribes).

These instincts were triggered by emotions…. hunches, feelings, sensations…

These were vital short-cuts that helped us survive.

It meant that when we came face to face with a dangerous animal, met a stranger, or smelled a forest fire, we made instantaneous judgements.

In other words these reactions happened before the logical parts of our brain knew what was happening.

Humans with the quickest, most reliable emotions survived those dangers, while slower logic-obsessed humans got eaten, murdered or roasted.

We remain highly impulsive creatures because we still make these instinctive judgements today. Our brains are hard-wired that why.

And this is important to know when you’re running your online business.

Your customers’ brains work in surprisingly predictable ways

As humans we all…

  • Instinctively seek deep relationships with others to form families and tribes (which is why the most successful businesses cultivate brand loyalty, giving a personality and a set of clear ideas to their business)
  • Like to belong and feel accepted by a group or ‘herd’ (which is why businesses seek to dominate niches where groups of like-minded people band together for protection and to share ideas)
  • Have a drive to trade information and share stories with each other (you only have to look at the explosive success of Social Media to see this primal instinct in action)
  • Habitually look into the future, make plans and form goals (this is why many businesses thrive on making promises about how their customers could be in the future after using the product, getting them to fantasise about the ideal outcome rather than instant fulfilment)
  • Seek patterns in the chaos so that we can understand the world around us. These manifest themselves as art, religion, myths and stories (this is why the most powerful advertising, for instance, uses strong imagery and storytelling to communicate)

These fundamental truths about human behaviour mean that there are things you can do and say in your website, advertising, emails, Social Media and personal communications that tap into these primal emotions.

When you do that, you bypass the rational side of your customer’s brain and encourage them to act instinctually.

This increases your power to convert people into followers, subscribers and customers.

There are LOTS of ways you can do this, and we will look at these in more detail in DU over the coming weeks and months.

They include the colours you use on your website… the images you choose…. the words you put in your headlines…

But today I want to talk about just one of these ideas.

Here’s ONE powerful element you can use right away in your marketing to tap into your customer’s ‘primal brain’

Humans have a natural drive to create myths, share them and pass down our secrets. This is how we built strong communities with histories and shared beliefs.

Just as we once sat around roaring fires and shared tales of Gods, ancestors, myths and legend, we are still drawn to a story.

So if you want to be visible, memorable, and forge an instant connection with a stranger, you need to tell them a compelling story about your business that inspires an emotional response.

Get your customer to sit in front of the fire and then tell them a story.

There are 7 basic story formulas into which you can fit your business around:

  • Battling the Enemy – From David and Goliath to The Gruffalo to Luke Skywalker in combat with Darth Vadar, people love are stories of people going up against more powerful enemies. Are you or your customers pitted against corporations, laws, prejudices, media bias and other forces?
  • Rebirth – have you gone through an experience that has transformed your life in some way? It could be a journey, experience, health problem, personal tragedy or spiritual revelation.
  • Quest – are you on a mission to achieve an objective? For instance, a local environmental campaign might seek to defeat the building of a ring-road, a diet business might aim for a certain body mass index, an education ‘how to learn German’ business might aim to make people fluent in 100 days.
  • Evangelical – are you trying to champion a cause or spread a message? It could be that you’re passionate about a business philosophy or bringing a new kind of cuisine to your city.
  • Rags to Riches – have you pulled yourself out of disadvantaged circumstances? It could be poverty, poor education, deprived upbringing, illness, depression, shyness, physical disability…
  • Escape – have you set up this business, or begun this project as a way of escape, self-expression or distraction from problems? And are you seeking to help others find the same joy and release?
  • Obsession – have you become obsessed with something so much that it has driven you to create your business or services? You could be mad about a hobby, like gaming or modelling for instance.

Which one of these fits your business story best?

Have a think about it, then see if you can get this story onto your About Me page, Twitter biography, Facebook page or welcome email.

It can also be used in your sales promotions, press releases and interviews.

Make sure it’s consistent. A thread that runs through your social media, blogging, emails and promotions.

Get this right and people will feel attracted to your business, products and services, even if they don’t really know why!

They’ll also share your message with others.

That’s because people are more likely to pass on a business story if it’s easily recognisable and relatable.

For instance….

“Wow, have you seen this restaurant that’s on a quest to have ZERO food waste”?

“Look at this online book publisher that’s fighting back against Amazon and beating it at its own game!”

“Amazing story about this woman who created an allergies app after her child nearly died from anaphylactic shock.”

Can you see how it works? It’s like a hook that tells everybody about who you are and what you stand for.

So what will be your compelling business hook?

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