The motivator response in our brain triggers us to take action and rewards us with a dopamine rush. It’s a surge of good feelings following a pleasant experience. It’s as old as man himself.
A key part of survival, the primal brain includes a series of triggers that make us take action.
When we take the action, it rewards us with what is called a dopamine rush. It’s that good feeling we get from eating ice cream, chocolate, and the like.
Can you imagine???
Our caveman ancestors spent a lot of time searching for food. Can you imagine trudging out there hunting for an animal to kill? Hot. Cold. Windy. Wild carnivores looking to eat you.
It took strong motivation to do it. The primal brain drove them on. When they did see an animal, maybe rabbits, deer, bison…or a wooly mammoth, their brain rewarded them. It offered triggered good feelings.
The reward of satisfaction and anticipation spurred them on to the kill. Success…more good feelings rewards.
Dopamine Rush Today
We’ve come a long way, but our brain hasn’t changed. We get a dose of adrenaline to escape a potential accident from the crazy driver in front of us. Or the idiot pedestrian who steps out into the street without bothering to check if there are cars coming.
We get the feel-good rush from foods we like and more. We are rewarded for finding a mate, having a baby, having a circle of friends, being a part of the team.
All of these trigger a dopamine rush.
Men get an emotional high from an action movie or a football game.
Women get their highs from finding a perfect gift for a friend, bringing someone joy, getting a hug. Or a positive shopping experience.
When we get one of those responses, it triggers us to repeat the behavior.
If you have a clear avatar of your customer, the dopamine rush can be effectively triggered in marketing efforts. Our goal in their interactions with our business, or brand, is a positive experience that triggers the rush. If we succeed, they are likely to return to purchase again.
It must be a positive experience to get this trigger. Poor experiences with any touchpoint of our interactions trigger the opposite response and drive them away.
So before any active marketing campaign is undertaken we need to make sure all interactions lead to a positive experience. Website design, navigation, content, customer support, purchasing, post-purchase, shipping, and delivery all need to be positive.
Then we can undertake to target the dopamine response in our marketing efforts. We can implement them on our website, social media, and emails.
3 Techniques to Trigger a Dopamine Rush
All three techniques tie into the fact we are reward-driven pleasure seekers. As much as we want to avoid pain or injury…we seek pleasure. There are several ways to get that result. Here are three techniques.
You can trigger the rush by creating excitement. Offer them fun. Let them win something.
You can generate excitement with a contest. We are driven to try to win, come out on top.
Flashing lights create excitement.
Having a winning ticket creates excitement.
Winning at bingo triggers a reward response.
Lottery bingo games trigger the response. State lottery games and casino gambling trigger the response. Sometimes so effectively that people become addicted.
Safeway uses this annually. So does Publisher Clearing House.
So do game shows and every business that put contests on Facebook or Instagram.
Use Trigger Words
Generate anticipation and curiosity by incorporating trigger words. Focus on words that generate curiosity, imagination, and anticipation.
All you can ___________
By invitation only
Kit (we love kits)
Use words and phrases that make intrigue your customer and make them want answers.
What does this mean?
What’s going on here?
How will this help me, I need to find out.
Pre-announcement of something new
Helpful hints on how your product can be used or give them the most benefit.
Celebrate milestones with them – theirs and yours
Free samples, free trials, and free demos work well. Feeling like we got more than we paid for absolutely triggers the response.
Stay in touch…if we know and like a brand, we like to hear from them. Stay in touch in a way that feels individualized and personal. You can use phone, text, or emails. They all strengthen the bond and trigger the rush.
Games make things fun. They give us rewards. And reward programs attract us. That’s why we sign up for them even if we don’t use them.
If we can fire up their anticipation for getting those “points” a bigger discount, or a free gift, we have a home-run.
Does your reward program offer multiple levels? Who wants to be in the “entry-level” group?
If we’re interested, we want more. Our seek pleasure drive wants us to have achievement and recognition. We want to be in “the group.” We want to be elite. …all dopamine rush triggers.
Want to read more about how rewards programs can benefit your business and learn about different types. See my companion article here
When I work with clients we start with their target customer and the type of RAS triggers that they respond to. Then we develop the plan and the rewards system that best suits them. Need help? Message me: Judith@jculpcreativecopy.com.
While avarice and greed have negative connotations the concept of getting a good deal is hardwired. We love bonuses, rewards, and discounts. We love to feel we got great value for our investment.
The value doesn’t even have to be ours
My sister has physical dexterity issues, so when she mentioned she needed a new camera, I jumped to help her find something suitable.
I remembered the challenges I’d found with the small profile digital cameras. It can be hard to get crystal clear photos. Stability issues.
I started researching the best cameras for unsteady hands. Something a bit bigger but not too bulky. I found a useful website and emailed her the information.
“Thanks for the help!” Came the reply.
There’s a Walmart near her and I knew it would be easy access if she had any problems. I went online and checked their offerings.
I knew she needed stability, the ability to easily transfer them to her computer, and maybe a bit of a zoom lens. The website I found had also suggested a larger view screen over a viewfinder for people who wear glasses.
I found a little Kodak PIXPRO FZ152. The price was reasonable for her budget, just $82, marked down from $149.95. Forty-one reviewers and a good rating.
So I shared the link with her via email. I did suggest she purchase an SD card to go with it.
A little while later, she messaged me, “Hi, Judi, I just ordered Kodak FZ53 digital camera!. It’s red! It comes with a carry case and an extra memory card for just $100 with free shipping!”
I could hear her excitement so I shot an email back, “Congratulations!! Have fun with it.”
Then I realized the number was different. I looked it up. The camera she ordered is smaller, flat, and would be harder for her to hold. The FZ53 was available solo or in a bundle. Gena had gone with the bundle.
Then I noticed there was only 1 review and it had 1 star.
My heart sank. I clicked to read the review, “Not worth buying. does not come with entire bundle. camera quality sucks.”
Sis had gone for the “good deal” but may turn out to be a bad purchase. Thank goodness Walmart has a generous return policy.
Positive value building
As a business owner, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to sort through offerings. As a digital marketing specialist, I work with clients to make sure their offers are buyer-friendly.
At the same time that we make the client feel good about their purchase, we make sure the company will feel good about the sale.
It’s about finding the right balance for both the seller and the buyer to have a positive experience.
One thing I see a lot of marketers miss…not all customers respond to the same type of offer. If you are always focused on creating value one way, you may be missing sale opportunities. You are also training your customers on what to expect.
Mattresses and furniture are a case in point. Stores that sell mattresses and or furniture are always having sales. We’re talking deep discount, fire sales. Clearance sales. Going out of business sales.
People know this and when there isn’t a sale…they generally wait. Sometimes they wait long enough to get a sale and free delivery.
3 Value Techniques
With the current social situation, more people are wanting to purchase from companies that support change and inclusion. Expect Gen Z to be strong on this issue.
Some people like to buy products because they feel good about the company’s story.
Others buy because of company philanthropy or involvement in the community.
Millennials look for environmentally friendly products. They want to “make a difference” with their decisions and their purchases. They will pay more to do that.
In the CBD niche, online sellers typically offer discounts. Does that mean it’s the best method? Not necessarily as we can see from the furniture stores.
There was a woman who ran a small boutique in the southwest. She had ordered some turquoise jewelry and it hadn’t sold well. Headed off on vacation she had an afterthought and messaged her assistant to mark it down to half-off.
When she returned a huge amount of the jewelry was gone, but there was no sale sign. She picked up a bracelet and noticed the price was twice the original price. Her assistant misunderstood and instead of marking it down, doubled it.
People bought more because they perceived if it was this expensive, it had to be quality.
When there were only a few pieces left and the season was nearly over, she left the altered price tags on and put up a sale sign of 50% Off until Friday.
Those last pieces were gone quickly. Value and urgency combined.
If something looks good but the price is too low…they wonder what is wrong. I’m not advocating you raise all your prices. I am advocating that you take a good look at the pricing, your target market, and the value balance.
In numerous studies bonuses outperformed discounts. While discounts are price reduction determined by the company. A bonus is something the customer earns.
A bonus might be based on a quantity purchased. This happens routinely with some alternative health supplements. Especially, those sold via long-form sales letters.
Invariably, while you can order one, the price keeps getting better if you order more. Often the sweet spot will be at least three or four of the same item.
There are also the buy one item at the regular price and get a second item for a reduced price. Women’s retail often does this.
A third bonus type is based on dollars spent. The amount of the bonus goes up every time you exceed a threshold. Spend over $50, save 10%. Raise that to spend over $100, save 15%. And the big one…spend over $200 save 25%. People reach for it like the gold ring on a merry-go-round.
Most of us have at least a fist full of rewards or loyalty program memberships. Amazon Prime, Airline miles, credit cards that reward you spendable points, Costco rebates. The list is nearly endless.
However, not all get used equally. Over half barely get used at all. Here are some that have been used very effectively.
Points programs where you earn based on dollars spent. My local nursery has this and the rewards points convert to a discount on future purchases. I recently got a plant free.
Amazon Prime is an example of a paid membership program. You pay your monthly/annual fee and get free fast shipping and other bonuses.
Sephora and Victoria’s Secret use a tiered community program. Your status is determined by how much you spend. The more you have spent in a calendar year, the higher your bonus and the number of perks you receive.
Nike rewards buyers based on a fitness achievement like running a 5K with badges and discounts.
There are many variations of rewards programs. The key is finding something that matches your specific business model and philosophy and your target customer.
All good rewards programs enhance customer loyalty and long term value. It’s a project well worth pursuing.
When I work with clients
My goal is to help them add new clients. At the same time, we focus on bonuses and rewards to retain existing clients. It’s far easier, and less expensive, to keep a customer than to replace them.
Pain has many faces. Physical pain, anguish over a loss, or fears of emotional pain. We, humans, are hard-wired to stop or flee all forms of pain. Everything from an embarrassing moment to a stabbing level eight agony.
Just like the rest of humanity, I’m a pain avoidance specialist.
I used to love horses. I’d wanted one from the time I was old enough to read Black Beauty.
The first thing I did when the man in my life moved me to the country, was to buy a horse. Did I know what I was doing? No. Did I have all the right gear, stabling, and place to learn? No.
Yes… I was a walking recipe for a disaster. I have the healed bones, bruises, and emotional trauma of accidents to prove it.
The last time was a finisher for me.
I’d sent a three-year-old filly for training. Three months later, the trainer announced she was ready to go to the stable where I was going to lodge her. (Doing it right this time.)
Since the trainer had to be out of town, an experience horsewoman friend went to help me move her.
The trainer had been rather spotty in her communications on techniques, etc.
When we went to load Brandy in the trailer, Linda asked, “Does she ride tied or untied?”
“I don’t know…Kathy never mentioned that.”
“Well, I don’t like to tie them unless I have to. She’s quiet, we’ll just leave her loose. You lead her in and then hand me the rope through the side.”
I led Brandy in and handed Linda the rope through the open window.
As I reached the open rear ramp, I heard Linda unsnap the lead.
“Careful, she’s turned and coming toward the door.”
I can still feel the surge of disquiet and adrenaline as I type these words. Goosebumps form on my arms.
The next thing I knew Brandy hit the back of my head with the full force of the length of her face. She felled me like a tree to knock me out of her way and lept over me to get out of the trailer.
Facedown in the dirt, I could see her feet coming down on both sides of me. Pain stabbed through my right hand where one foot had grazed.
I lay there shaking with terror, knowing the outcome could have been far worse.
Marketers need to understand pain.
I think the New York Times summed it up well in their article, “Pain is the secret of neuromarketing.” I’ll explain more on that in a minute.
Most of us know that we need to find the customer’s “pain points.” However, we don’t always really understand what that means or how to use it appropriately in marketing.
An article on MarketingLand on Pain and Conversions had some great insights that aligned beautifully with what I’d learned from a marketing coach. It filled in some missing blanks.
Better armed with the neuroscience behind pain, I want to share some tips that can help you help your customers. Help them understand pain. Stop pain. Avoid pain.
It works equally well for mental or emotional pain and physical or psychological pain.
The Primal Brain is the Secret
The answers are found deep in the oldest part of our brain, the amygdala often called the reptilian or the primal brain. This is the survival part of the brain. It’s the home of our fight-or-flight response.
When faced with danger, it lights up and triggers us to take action. In mild cases like the guy in front of you suddenly braking, you too stomp on the brake. Then feel that leftover adrenaline tingling in your veins.
In the case of severe danger…we flee.
In an article on psychological pain by David Biro, he shares that all pain follows a simple formula.
An attack or assault leads to injury and then to withdrawal. We have to escape. Whether the threat is physical or happening in our head, the result is identical. We feel pain and we need to stop it.
When neurosurgeons tested subjects, they discovered the amygdala lights up when the person felt threatened.
They tested a variety of pain and danger signals and saw the same response.
Then they tested people who were shopping for chocolates and buying them. Interestingly, the area again lit up.
While the triggers were very different, they came from the same area of the brain. The area with a very powerful “action” drive.
3 keys to using the primal brain
To effectively incorporate this powerful drive we need to focus on helping our customer or prospective buyer. Every single one of us wants to remove fear, remove pain, and feel pleasure. We are reward focused. When we escape danger, fear, or pain, we get a pleasure surge in the same area, the reptilian brain. The feel-good is automatic and elemental.
Feel their pain – identify it.
Successful conversion starts with your customer. You have to understand what they are feeling.
Is their pain from a physical problem? Joints lose cartilage. Muscles can strain or tear. Bones break and accidents do nasty things all over. Kidney stones and delivering babies trigger intense pain.
Emotional health is your ability to express your feelings about the information you have processed.
Emotional pain like anxiety, stress, financial fears, insecurities, guilt, and grief are emotion-based. All forms of loss trigger emotional pain. Non-physical pain can lead to loss of sleep and depression. In its most severe form, it prevents the person from living a normal life.
Nothing matters but the pain.
Whether emotional or physical the person feels and describes what they feel in the same terms as physical pain.
Help them see hope
One unfortunate aspect of pain is that the longer we endure it, the more we feel it. We don’t want to leave prospects to wallow in their pain.
It’s our job to help them find a glimmer of hope. We want to help them find relief.
A word of caution, avoid pain as a sales gimmick. A good example is the poorly acted television commercials of a company in the late 1980s. Selling a protective device to seniors they slogan was ‘I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” They turned a serious situation into bad comedy.
They made US Data Corporation’s top 15 marketing blunders list. Right up there with NEW Coke and NOVA.
There are plenty of ways to take the high road and still take advantage of the pain principle. It can be done with words and images without focusing on the pain.
Check these examples and think of the emotions tied to each:
You’re selling a pre-natal supplement…protection for mother and baby. (What are they feeling?)
Selling a super door lock with a camera…you’re selling Theft protection. (What emotions?)
Can you identify which emotions a photo of a flooded row of homes would trigger?
How about a picture with a nasty black spider graphic situated next to a happy family?
As badly as we want to escape pain…we seek pleasure. We want to feel good, enjoy our families, feel safe, find love, belong, and have confidence and esteem. Help them see themselves feeling better and having fun.
Showing hope and reminding them of the potential pleasure rewards guides them to your solution.
Help them get the reward
If you’ve done your work and guided them forward, the desires are activated. The need to take action is strong for us pain-avoidance pleasure-seekers.
Buying triggers a feeling of satisfaction and that activates the brain’s primal reward region. We feel pleased with our purchase.
Proper post-sales nurturing can reinforce this feeling, set the right expectations, and continue the positive experience. The positive experience draws them back to you to repeat it.
Help them get their next dose of happiness with lots of nurturing.
Would love to hear how you implement the pain motivator in your marketing.
Oh and Brandy and I…I’ve never been back on a horse. I got out of it with a minor concussion and a broken little finger on my right hand. I was very lucky. I never wanted to tempt that fate again. My time as a dare-devil risk-taker was over.
The key to successful marketing is focusing on the client’s pain points. In today’s chaotic world that’s the 3 Sisters…physical pain, anxiety, and inadequate sleep. Each of the three feeds of the others and accelerates the client’s problem into a vicious cycle.
About ten days ago I woke up to stabbing pain from my lower back to my calf. I tried shifting position and the pain shot from a 6 to at least an 8. I had trouble controlling my breathing to say nothing of fighting back against the agony.
I bumped up my anti-inflammatories especially CBD. Topical and oral.
It helped some, but it took diagnostics to realize it was sciatica. In the midst of a pandemic, dashing to a doctor was low on my desirability list. I had to figure it out with my husband’s help. Fortunately, as an athlete, he had some experience with pain.
When you have pain like sciatic it interferes with your life, your work, your sleep, and your thinking. The pain triggers less sleep, you feel tired and can’t think as well.
Pain also raises your stress level which in turn affects sleep and how you function.
When I added a few of the right kinds of movements for my form of sciatica to the anti-inflammatory regime, the pain dropped to the one-two range in short order.
Your client needs help like that.
No one ever diagnosed me with arthritis, but it’s a problem that most people develop as we age. Some suffer from it as early as in their thirties or forties. Others of us are blessed to delay it much longer.
When we focus on the three sisters of pain we address three RAS triggers our clients face and try to cope with. They are those magic pain points we search for.
It’s important to remind them that they may need to do more than pop pills or other ways to ingest CBD. They need to identify the problem and add the proper physical movements for maximum results.
From my personal experience, the combination can be life-changing…quickly.
3 Techniques to Deal with the 3 Sisters
Since we know it is a complex problem, it’s always best to suggest they seek professional help so they know exactly what they are dealing with if the pain doesn’t go away in a short period of time.
I didn’t do that when I had severe groin pain that I thought was a pulled muscle. Six months later I was still in agony. One Xray had the answer. The cartilage had snapped and I was bone on bone needing a hip replacement.
A problem is so much easier to cure when you know exactly what the problem is.
Once that recommendation has been made then focus on these three techniques.
Focus on how the formula address the 3 Sisters
Synergies in formulas have been often overlooked in CBD products. It’s not just the presence of CBD but how the product is put together.
The supporting ingredients are equally important. Antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, calming agents, stress soothers. Share the magic of your blend while staying within the FDA requirements.
I’m not a scientist or a formulator but I’ve worked with ingredients found in supplements and skincare for over 25 years. There are ways to phrase things to get your message across and not make medical claims.
To talk about its features is important. However, if you are selling to the consumer, they are more focused on the benefits…how it will impact their life.
Address the inter-relation of the 3 Sisters
Your prospect is probably already realizing that their problem is affecting them in multiple ways. You validate that when you address the interaction between sleep, pain, and stress.
It makes your product that much more believable and gives them hope.
Refer them back to the synergy of your product and how the different ingredients impact each of the sisters.
Tie your recommendations into minor lifestyle changes that can boost the impact of their experience and results.
Share a success story
There is nothing like a client success story as social proof on the results of your product. Yes, we have to choose words carefully.
The client has to match your target client and have the right RAS points. They need to be willing to share their experience. You may need to interview them and get more in-depth information.
We then need to show how the product improved their quality of life. We can share that they said they felt so much better, that they were able to do more.
Those aren’t medical claims. They were results a client experienced.
You have a secret marketing team at your disposal to effectively grow your alternative health, wellness, or CBD business and it’s probably closer than you realize. It’s your customer support team and your customers themselves in addition to your marketing team. They need to be closely working with marketing.
A colleague and I were talking about this recently. He’s been a copywriter for over 15 years. One of his clients suddenly had a huge drop in his business. In less than six months their revenues had dropped over 40%.
Desperate, he called my friend, Joshua, and asked him to come to help them sort it out and he would make the arrangements for Joshua’s travel.
Joshua flew to their headquarters for the staff meeting. He needed to talk to all the key people to see what had changed.
When he arrived to the meeting, the head of the marketing department wasn’t there. Joshua stopped and told them he couldn’t progress without everyone there. The owner made a call and an hour later the department head arrived.
Like I do, after listening carefully, Joshua started asking questions. He started digging. The products hadn’t changed. Pricing hadn’t changed appreciably. Orders, shipping, and delivery were all handled the same.
He asked to see the copy they had been sending out to customers over the past few months.
The owner liked the new messages. He found it hard to believe that the changes they had made could cause such a dramatic change in sales.
Could a marketing change really do that?
Instead of trying to convince him, Joshua asked who had written the copy. Turning to her, he said, “Please write the next piece that’s to go out. Do it just the way you have been…no changes. Okay?”
Slightly bewildered she agreed. Then he turned to the owner and said, “I’ll also write copy for the same content. I want you to A/B test them and we’ll see what your buyers say. Agreed?”
The owner agreed and they sent the test emails out. The copy my friend wrote outperformed their staff writer’s copy 20:1. Why? He wrote directly to their target market and their mindset. He didn’t try to change them from who they were.
Management had lost connection with their buyer’s wants, needs, and mindset.
We can’t afford client marketing disconnects in the midst of this crisis.
Have you noticed it’s harder to get answers to questions right now? I have. In my client work I’ve noticed they are slower to get back to me.
Businesses that I deal with are slower to get back to me. Some are even completely ignoring their customer’s requests for support or have reasonable ways to be reached.
It’s a recipe for decline, loss of sales, and a decrease in customer retention.
The answers are at your fingertips or the other end of your cell phone. Your best secret weapon is your customer support staff and existing clients.
Your customer support team is your “first-responders”. Just like medics and firefighters, there are the first ones your customers interact with. They hear the stories. They know what’s working and where the problems are.
In my client work, I have found there is often a big disconnect between management and customer service. Management may assume they have it all delegated.
Numerous studies and surveys verify this. About 75% of management thinks they have great customer service. Only about 25% of customers agree.
Management may assume that they are on target. It’s easy to not accurately connect marketing strategies, investments, and focus with what the customer service team is experiencing.
Here are three techniques to lessen this disconnect and empower your business to move forward.
Talk to your real marketing team…
Have a conference with your customer service team with your marketing team listening in. Start by listening to what they are experiencing. What’s going right? What are the concerns they hear the most often? Where, if any are the breakdowns?
Is there a product that has developed an issue?
Is there a need that could be better met with a little tweaking?
What about a concern or information that if provided on the website could reduce interaction friction? You want to minimize purchasing friction every step of the way. What would make the buying process easier?
Review how customer service interacts with clients or queries.
Phone? Email? Chat? What is the typical response time?
What is the scope of your sales? Local, regional, national or beyond?
What hours is customer support offered and are they reasonable for people beyond your time zone?
If you’re an east coast firm doing business with not just continental USA, but also Alaska and Hawaii – you have a six-hour time difference to consider. Even just in the continental US, it may be 5 PM on the east coast…but it’s only 2 PM on the west coast. This can cause a lot of customer service friction.
Right now…and for the foreseeable future, consider shifting most, if not all customer service to remote work. If you don’t have it, consider how to create a way for that team to be able to offer support.
Also, is there a way you could have longer hours through a remote worker? Either an opposite coast liaison or someone who would be willing to handle an early or late shift…depending on your location.
Create better customer relations by letting them know when they can expect to hear back from you. Supply chain users are learning they have to be more flexible and things are taking longer. Retail consumers are less content to wait.
One of my clients is a distributor and while their sales have been suffering greatly, now they are getting lots of requests for “I need it right now.”
Set expectations by having clear guidance on how you are working and fulfilling orders.
Even if you get it out the same day…we both know deliveries are not predictable. Not even express or other very expensive delivery services.
What are your customers saying?
You might want to read some of the customer emails or chat threads to get a better sense of how your customer is feeling about your company and your product.
Visit your social media pages and check out the conversations there. Do you need to ramp up support there?
Are you getting reviews on your website or social media? What do they say? What can be done to improve them?
Customer problems are opportunities for increasing sales…if you listen and act on them.
With over 30 years in business, I know we can’t make every person happy. However, often, there is an easy fix. Product or product packaging tweaking. Digital content tweaking or additions. Better customer experience opportunities.
Get feedback and share it with customer service and marketing
If you don’t have an automatic feedback system following a sale, consider incorporating one.
Every time I pick up groceries… I get a how did we do email. Businesses that use square automatically followup with a little smiley face or frown option on my phone…again, feedback on how they did.
Customer surveys are a goldmine. Offer a bonus for taking a few moments and giving you some feedback. Keep it short and simple. I hate my grocery store feedback because it asks way too much demographic information that is identical every time.
Be respectful of their time. Think of how You would feel being asked these questions.
It’s better to have just a few quick questions and then a space for comments. It empowers and respects them at the same time.
If you get a comment that brings an issue to your attention, have a script for staff to use as a response. Thank them and let them know this will be looked into.
When I work with clients, these are techniques I share. I recommend the findings and suggested modifications/changes be shared with all levels. Management needs the information, Customer Service wants the suggestions and Marketing needs to keep the customer in the loop of changing you are making.
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