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The Priming Effect

Imagine this …

You’re on the market for a new sofa. You pull up the online store of a brand you’ve seen advertised on your Instagram timeline before.

You finally find a leather sofa that would match your living room perfectly. In every product image, there’s also a beautiful coffee table beside the sofa.

But you’re not on the market for a coffee table – just the sofa.

When you reach the end of the checkout, a small prompt asks you if you’d like to add the coffee table to your purchase for 50% off its regular price.

What do you do?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re taking a look at Priming — why exposure to images and ideas can get you to make decisions faster. 

Let’s get into it.

 

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The Psychology of Priming 🧠

Priming occurs when exposure to one stimulus influences your response when exposed to another.

Let me demonstrate. What’s the last word in this sequence?

Elbow
Neck
Foot
T_e

You probably guessed toe, right? 

But there are other words that would also work: tie, tee,

By priming you with body-related items, you were more likely to guess toe than tee. Had instead the priming words been about golf, you probably would have gone with tee. 

Cool, huh?

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐

Priming is a super-effective way to prompt someone into recalling specific information based on how you primed them. 

There are a few types of priming:

Positive & Negative Priming – Positive priming makes us process information faster and reduces the time required to retrieve information (ex. Listing all the states when asking for the capital cities). Negative priming slows down information processing.

Semantic Priming – I demonstrated semantic priming with the toe example above. It involves using language to prime for a certain result. Words of a similar category are more quickly accessible than random words.

Repetition Priming – Pairing items together makes you think of them as a single unit (ex. Jack Daniels AND _____, peanut butter AND _____, shake AND _____.)

Perceptual Priming – Uses shapes and sounds to help with recall. Rhyming and colours are examples of priming tools (ex. goat 👉  boat, green 👉  grass).

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?

Relatable Content & Imagery

To evoke a specific feeling or emotion, prime your buyer with images associated with that feeling. (ex. If you’re selling a scented candle that has a fresh scent, use images of green fields, beautiful flowers, and a breezy window. Seem familiar?)

Stick With A Pattern

If you’re going to start using a recurring pattern, stick with it. Your buyer will get used to it and any change will mess them up (ex. Aligning text to the left, then changing it to the right).

Draw Attention To A Problem

Before a product launch, start sharing content that revolves around a specific problem that the product helps to solve. This will prime your audience to start noticing that problem more often right as you launch the solution.

The Short of It 💥

Use imagery, words, and patterns to get your buyer in the right context before you ask them to take action.

Once you choose a pattern, stick with it. Familiarity helps people make decisions faster.

Repetition helps your buyer remember important information.

Until next time, happy selling!

 

Pssssttt…

 

Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

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Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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