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3 powerful ways to hack your customer’s brain

Now, until we’ve got our phones embedded in our brains (which is still a couple of years away) actually hacking a customer’s brain is going be tricky – but fortunately, as humans, we’re only aware of a small percent of what drives us to make our daily decisions – meaning a smart business can lever some advantage if they know what makes us tick behind the scenes.

If you’re keen on making your business as appealing as possible to a person’s subconscious, you can take the next 10 years to obtain a psychology Ph.D. – or apply some of the following tricks and techniques…

  1. Reward good behaviour

Rewarding good behaviour might sound strange, after all, you’re not setting out rules that you want a person to abide by – but generally speaking, people seek direction and feel good if they’re recognised for taking that direction.

Here’s an example – your website has form that a person can complete to subscribe to your mailing list. Keep that in the dropdown menu beneath the ‘resources’ tab and you’ll only get the occasional person who’s really keen on your business signing up. On the other hand, if you have a pop-up that displays after a person’s been on your site for 30 seconds offering 10% off their first order if they sign up to your newsletter – your subscriptions are going to go through the roof.

Your visitors know what to do, and they get a reward if they do it.


Why does it work?

This stems from people’s desire to comply. A long time ago, complying with what was happening around you meant the difference between being accepted by a society or tribe – or being rejected and perishing shortly after.

While it might sound far-fetched to think behaviour from 120,000 years ago can still influence our lives – you’ve got to realise that the will to survive is the primary reason we’re the most successful species on the planet, this drive shapes virtually all our decisions at a base level – it’s virtually hardwired into our brains.


Other examples

  • A free gift for placing an order
  • A discount for completing a customer satisfaction survey
  • Reward/loyalty points for continuing to shop with you
  • Access to premium content in exchange for personal data

We see these things all around us – but we don’t always realise what these companies are doing. Think about what you want from your customer – and give them reasons to comply with your wishes.


  1. Appear trustworthy

Now, it might sound suspicious to suggest your brand ‘appears’ trustworthy – rather than simply being trustworthy – but there’s a big difference. You could be the smartest, most experienced and trust-worthy industry player there is, but if you don’t know how to let your customers know, you’re at the bottom of the pile when they’re looking for advice.

Wait? You’re not looking to give advice? You just want people to buy your products or services? Well, that’s falling at the first hurdle! The first step to appearing trustworthy is making people realise you’re not just in it for yourself. Sure, you’re a business, but you want to offer people the right advice – help them spend their money in the most rewarding way for them.

So how do you appear trustworthy? There’s a few routes to success…

  • Always be there: Being present, whether that’s in email, social media feeds or on their doormat, a company who’s always there feels established, experienced and reliable.
  • Offer some balanced opinions: Don’t always be shouting about how good your product is, instead, talking about what it’s right for, what it’s not ideal for, other products on the market. Just shouting about how good you are can feel insincere.
  • Update frequently: Don’t fall into the trap of having a website that never sees an update, when people visit, they like to think you’re there – behind the scenes keeping on top of a blog or news area.

A trustworthy face

Trust isn’t just built with words – having a ‘face’ for your business also helps a great deal. Now, that may or may not be your face or even one of your employees, often, businesses will choose a friendly and trustworthy looking face from a stock image site to represent them.

There’s a huge amount of science behind faces – and they’re often one of the biggest factors when we often make split-second decisions about a person’s character. Having a trustworthy face on your site can be another brick in the trustworthiness wall!

  1. Limit customer choices

Making decisions is often stressful – even small decisions can take a toll on our mood. So, what happens when you’re faced with 300 hundred similar products? Some people will choose the first one they see – but others will want to analyse all 300 before coming to a balanced conclusion.

For people like that (and there’s a lot of them!) it pays to reduce their possible choices. Businesses often think this is counter-productive, but actually it can be the difference between a customer wanting to work with a company or not. And the impulse buyers? They’ll still buy.

One of the most common pieces of praise bestowed on a company is “They made it really simple for me” – what people don’t realise is that they’re missing a big part of the sentence – “They made it really simple for me to spend my money” – and that’s what businesses really like to hear.


What can you do?

Stock 6 similar products? Reduce it to 3. Offer 8 different service level packages? Cut it down to 4. There’s no need to actually reduce what you offer – you can always put together custom products and pricing if a customer needs something that’s outside of your limited options.

Retail outlets see a much larger ‘bounce’ rate the more they stock. Now, there is a balance to be struck – but if you’re seeing a lot of people browsing and not many people buying – it might be because they’re overwhelmed.