Ever been head-over-heels in love? Yes? Then you know the experience of infatuation.

Turns out, that lovesick feeling that explains how your brain falls in love with people? It also works with brands.

Every time you communicate with your customers, you can't just pique their interest. You must completely fascinate them. As the world becomes more competitive and commoditized, anything less will just be a waste of your marketing budget. To captivate your customer, just take a cue from neuroscience.

1. Your brain was born to flirt.

Flirtation is the most elemental of all fascinations, the one upon which our species is quite literally dependent, and therefore innate for humans across centuries and continents. Luckily for our great-great-great-grandchildren, we've become extraordinarily effective at flirting.

These tactics might seem a little crazy, but you can actually tap into some of them when building your own brand. Using humor in your messages is a way to make customers warm to you, before hearing your actual message.

We see this in especially competitive markets, like insurance. If your customers respond to your funny, off-beat messaging style, they are more likely to give your actual message a chance. Good brands flirt when they keep from getting too serious or heavy-handed.  

2. A little obsession is a good thing.

Scientist Frank Tallis describes that if we take the symptoms of falling in love and "check them against diagnostic criteria for mental illness, we find that most 'lovers' qualify for diagnoses of obsessional illness, depression or manic depression." 

We see irrational customer behavior when Apple announces new products. The Apple brand is built as exclusive, promoting limited releases, with the expectation that products will sell out.  When the iPhoneX was released in November, hundreds lined up at their stores--some even paid professional line sitters to wait days in advance.

3.The expression "crazy in love" is more literal than you think.

Northwestern University psychologist Eli Finkel describes how falling in love can "make otherwise normal people do very wild things. They'll stalk, hack into email, eavesdrop and do other things they'd never do in a rational frame of mind." 

That's not so good for people who go a little crazy in love. But it's a great thing if you sell a luxury product and want people to go to irrational lengths to feel like they are part of what you sell.

During my research on brand fascination, I did an experiment where I asked people how much they were willing to pay for two identical pairs of sunglasses, with the only difference being that one had a luxury brand's logo on them. Although these glasses were exactly the same, people were willing to pay an average of four times more for the pair with the fancy logo. There was nothing rational in their choice, and they'd be the first to admit it.

4. Your voice reveals when you're in love.

What makes someone sound sexy? The answer lies in biological cues. We salivate when we see delicious food, receive praise, or experience happiness. Your listener subconsciously reads these cues. Marilyn Monroe's famously breathy voice was not only moist, it was also aspirated. We all naturally "aspirate" our voices-- increasing the amount of air through the vocal chords, as if whispering-- when in very intimate proximity. Even when speaking to large groups, her near-whisper almost felt like pillow-talk, captivating her audiences.

Your brand can "flirt," too. Warm up to customers with a brand voice that feels close, not cold. The tone of your copywriting should be casual, even intimate, but include a bit of urgency, as when you share a bit of juicy gossip with a good friend. It's true that formality can introduce an element of status, but you if you want to make a connection on an emotional level, talk to your customers like you're in on something big together.   

5. Lust is universal.

People from the South Sea islands to Siberia, Cape Town to San Francisco, Reykjavik to Kathmandu, all engage in a fairly fixed repertoire of gestures to test sexual availability and interest, regardless of language, socioeconomic status or religious upbringing.

Not all products are universal, but the way our brains respond is.

In a crowded marketplace, your products can't just interest your customers. You must fascinate them. When you understand how the worlds sees your brand, and identify what makes it unique, you can focus your energy on what makes it inherently fascinating. When you fascinate your customers, they'll remember you, talk about you, and most of all, buy from you.

You might say, fascination is your brand's perfect mate.  

Published on: Jan 24, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.