There is a nail salon by my house with a big, yellow sign on the window that reads, "Voted Best in the South Sound 2009, 2010, 2011." This sign was all well and good in 2011 (or even 2012), but now that it's 2019? That message needs to change. 

If the owners even notice the sign is still there (it could just be white noise at this point), they probably think the accomplishment hasn't changed, so it can continue to be promoted with the same sign. 

The problem of course is that as the context changes, our brains look at this sign and doesn't see the positive. Instead, we ask, "What happened over the past eight years?" 

Our subconscious steers us away from visiting the establishment because it believes something must have gone wrong. In my case, it kept me from giving them a try for several months--even after having several referrals from others who went there. 

Flip the Frame

A simple change in the framing of the message would make it an evergreen line that will always read as a benefit: "Voted Best in the South Sound 3 Years in a Row." 

It is still true, but the slight shift causes the brain to only see this as a positive, because it doesn't take the time to think, "I wonder if that was recently or 10 years ago?" Instead, it accepts the positive and moves on. 

If you have any signs in your lobby or on your website that are touting accomplishments from more than three years ago, it is time to change them. You can potentially still promote the same award, but it needs to be showcased differently now.

"How" Matters More Than "What"

Our brains are illogical, and behavioral economics has proved many times over that saying the same thing in different ways will impact the choices people make. 

For example, people are much more likely to buy meat that is labeled as "90 percent fat free" than labeled as containing "10 percent fat." Doctors are more likely to recommend procedures described to them as having an "85 percent success rate" than a "15 percent mortality rate"--and patient choices align with those frames. 

When you have a new message or statistic you want to share, make sure to test it out several different ways to find the frame that will resonate best with your customers.

Below is an example of a statistic framed in a few different ways. Notice how your brain changes its opinion of the business with each statement. What assumptions does it make about the company? Which ones feel best to your brain?

  • "78 percent of customers bought from us a second time."
  • "22 percent of customers never came back."
  •  "Four out of five customers buy again."
  • "More than 3/4 come back."
  • "Nearly 1/4 tried our product and went back to our competitors."
  • "Most customers choose us again and again."

Now it's your turn. What messages can you tweak slightly to completely change the way current and prospective customers see your business?