Gut Reaction and How to Influence Action

Call it a gut reaction, but often times our prospects and customers make decisions and respond based on intuition, a hunch, or professional judgment. In direct response, we want quick action. This is my topic in my blog over at Target Marketing Magazine.

We know if the prospect drifts away from our message we’ll lose them, usually forever. So while the logic and quantification of your sales story may be overwhelmingly in your favor, it can be intuition that turns the prospect away because of something that felt too good to be true, leaves room for skepticism, or an unintended nuance in copy that you overlooked and loses the sale for you.

Even if all the arguments you’ve made in your content are authentically and credibly in your favor, a person’s gut decision often prevails.

And here’s what is frustrating: studies suggest that often a person’s gut reaction is wrong because it’s subject to bias. Your prospect might overestimate his ability to assemble a product, for example. Or she may think it takes too much time to read your information, learning materials or book. Perhaps when your prospect has made a mistake related to what you’re selling, he doesn’t understand why, or is hesitant to ask for help or feedback. And she or he forgets. That is, he forgot the last time he made a poor decision based on his gut instead of listening to logic.

How do you overcome gut emotion and reaction? You have to help your prospective customers or donors through the decision making process. Do it with these ideas:

1.      Lead your prospect to a sense of revelation. That happens when the obvious in your conscious mind finally learns something that your subconscious mind already knew. Ask yourself: when are you most creative (what you might consider right brain thinking)? For most people, it’s when we are exercising, walking, jogging, listening to music, in the shower, or in an unfamiliar environment. Some of my best ideas have struck me while on vacation, when my mind is suspended from the consciousness of day-to-day responsibilities. Lead your prospect to an awakening.

2.      Give ’em chills. A reaction inside the mind often is accompanied by a physical sensation. It could be chills or goosebumps. For some people, it may be an unusual feeling in the stomach or throat. You can create these physical sensations when copy is accompanied by strong visuals that paint a picture. Music is another way to stimulate a physical reaction. While you can’t pipe in music to printed material, you can use music in video or on your website.

3.      Past experience recall. Your brain’s hippocampus stores long-term memory. Long-term memories are with you for your entire life, unless something comes along to pave new grooves and create a new memory. You aren’t likely to replace past long-term memories, but you do have the opportunity to create another memory that neutralizes a bad memory, or enhance a good memory. Creating new memory is harder to do than drawing on a past memory. When you can, allow your content to take your prospect to a positive place, or hit a negative memory head-on with something so strong you can overcome the negativity.

4.      Challenge the perceptual rules made up in the mind. For some people, changing an ingrained rule is impossible, even if it’s wrong. If when a person can’t articulate why the rule exists, you may be able to use an overwhelming amount of empirical data or statistics from credible third party sources to turn around a rules-based individual. But don’t count on it.

5.      Recognize Patterns and Cross-Index. Help your prospect see something familiar to engage intuitive skills. The more material about your product or service that you can provide to cross-index in the mind, the higher likelihood your prospect’s intuition will kick in on a positive note for you.

You won’t always be able to prevail over intuition or gut reaction, but when you anticipate that probability in your copy, you can turnaround a potential lost sale.



Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.