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Psych! 5 Brain Tricks to Make Customers Buy

Want to increase your revenue? It's time to get smarter about how your customers' minds really work, suggests a new book.
Brainfluence Book Cover

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Roger Dooley wants your business to succeed. So he's laying down the facts and dissecting recent brain and behavior research to enable you to tap into consumers' brains.

Fact No. 1: People aren't always rational thinkers. In truth, research shows that a huge amount of decision-making is actually based on subconscious factors.

In both his new book, Brainfluence, and in a recent interview, Dooley offered several ways to use "neuromarketing" to do a better job persuading consumers.

1. Clean Up Your Font

Are you using a stylish, elegant font on your signage? It's time to dump it.

A study shows that more ornate fonts make people assume a task to be more time-consuming than when the same task is explained in a clearer font. This could make your products or services seem slow or even tedious--and no one wants a purchase that'll take forever to assemble or start using.

"Probably nine times out of 10 the simpler font is going to be the better choice," Dooley says, "because the text will be more likely to be read, for one, and you'll better convey information."

Bottom line: Go easy on consumers' eyes; use a clear, easy-to-read font such as Arial, for product and service descriptions as well as any instructions.

2. Don't Show Them the Money

A restaurant currency study showed that patrons tended to be more price-conscious when dollar signs appeared alongside the prices on menus. If there was just a solo digit, by contrast—no dollar symbol, no decimal point—then spending went up.

"When people see a currency symbol like a dollar sign or a euro symbol, that … activates a part of the brain that can sometimes help the marketer, but often not," Dooley says.

Bottom line: If you're a restaurateur, take dollar signs off the menu to increase your sales.

3. Remember the Senses

Customer transactions are about more than facts and figures. Getting smart about sensory appeal can also help a brick-and-mortar business.

Look for environmental elements that you can control, like pleasant scents—even if your products don't naturally have a smell. "You can create a scent environment that is pleasant, memorable, and distinctive that reinforces your branding," Dooley says. "The scent will then trigger consumers' senses and create a desire for that [the product or service]." Tests have shown that scents in shopping areas can increase sales.

And don't overlook the music, which can also affect customers' buying decisions. One test, for instance, found that when a wine shop played French or German music, it increased sales of wine from that country.

Bottom line: Find creative ways to tempt customers' senses.

4. Respond to Customers

Nobody likes being ignored—so make sure you can provide real feedback to social media messages and posts.

Dooley cites one study that looked at people who complained via social media about a company or its products. When they got a prompt response—even if it wasn’t an actual apology—the majority of customers either removed their negative comment or revised it with a positive addendum. So take a minute to acknowledge what was said; it's worth your time.

The customer doesn't need to be right every time, Dooley acknowledges: "But you'll almost never score points when arguing with a customer. You may win the argument, but you'll lose the customer."

Bottom line: Keep your cool and respond to customers promptly.

5. Tell a Good Story

Statistics are great. But you need people to pay attention to your numbers to help drive sales. Our brains are wired to process stories in a more engaged way, Dooley says: Brain scan work shows that when people read a story with a lot of action elements, their brains actually mimic the motions.

So whether you're citing case studies or designing ads or other promotions, draw customers in by weaving facts and favorable information into a story format. A great story can engage customers on a deeper level; this also increases word-of-mouth marketing. "In general some of your information should be in a story format to keep your reader engaged," Dooley says, "because if it's all facts and all statistics, you'll lose a lot of your audience."

Bottom line: Turn percentages and figures into a good tale to capture—and keep—your customers' attention.

IMAGE: Flickr
Last updated: Mar 14, 2012

CAITLIN BERENS | Staff Writer

Caitlin Berens writes about business innovation and entrepreneurs. Before Inc., she worked at Billboard, SELF, and Better Homes and Gardens. She attended Drake University, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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