How to Read your Customer's Mind and Sell More

Written by Simon Jack (guest contributor)

Last week we were giving a talk at the eCommerce Show. We were very grateful at the reaction as there was a queue of people waiting to watch us and we garnered some wonderful feedback after the talk.

The main feedback was how we helped people understand themselves better and how that played into interactions they had in person and also online.

We thought it prudent to share all the insight with you also, the power of awareness awaits! Martin and I presented side by side and the content is presented as we spoke about it on stage.

Intro

Martin:

We have been on a mission most of lives to discover what drives human behaviours and how you can change it positively. We use psychology, science (behavioural, data, neuro, creative), behavioural economics, emotional intelligence and mathematics to hunt down what drives behaviours in any given marketplace.

Our highlights are creating six businesses - four together - publishing two books, receiving 16 awards and solving problems for 100s of companies.

We know that everything is behaviours. Whether it is increasing your sales, growing your social media, converting more people to buy, enhancing your customer experience or looking to improve the culture of your company what you cannot argue is that the driving force to each situation is people. Like your ability to decide what to wear everyday, you decide it, it’s your behaviours, right or wrong, it’s your decisions that make it happen.

Today we will focus on you and your customer’s mind.

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If you take a look inside your customer’s mind, you’ll discover a complex maze of thoughts and emotions. Before any firm decisions are made, a whole load of questions need to be answered. Some questions they know, but so many more are being bubbled-up in their subconscious, crying out to be answered.

So let’s look into some of the ways to navigate your customer’s mind and begin to predict the right answers to nudge along their decision making.

We are Irrational Creatures

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Martin:

‘You are so irrational’

This is a negative phrase and is indicative of how we humans (and science) can misunderstand how our brain works. Every human has an irrational mind, that’s our instinct, that’s our unconscious mind which drives 92% of everything single thing we do. The reason that the phrase and also the word irrational is considered a negative is because in the past no one understood how we think and instead it was easier to dismiss what we don’t know and create a negative, here is some further evidence.

When you think, you don’t see words and numbers do you? No, as you think about the past or the present or the future or made up weird stuff you think in terms of imagery. That is how our mind works, it is not an IQ driven words and numbers brain, it is an Emotional Intelligence driven brain and that's the rub of it, we never knew what emotional intelligence was and 104 years ago (because of a great book) we created an IQ driven society. Simon will explain this with some cool examples

Simon:

Imagine you are out to buy a car. Most are going to do exactly the same job and be just as safe as and efficient. But our desire for a certain model doesn’t come from just these rational factors. We find excuses to satisfy our emotional desires and give ourselves permission to make decisions...

“Oh but this one also happens to have the self-parking, rain detecting wipers and butt warming seats. I couldn’t possibly cope without them. Oh and yes, it just so happens it looks a lot better.”

A purely rational choice would have been to go for the cheaper, uglier model as it does everything that’s required. Yet the pull of luxury slams down the trump card in this decision.

We don’t buy on facts or emotions alone. To truly enter your customer’s mind, you’ve got to uncover what they are thinking and feeling at every step of the way. That’s your opportunity to tick off all the questions and desires and ensure they are ready to make your intended choice.

Another important thing to note is the time frame in which we make decisions. Even if something feels like a gut decision, the reality is your subconscious mind has been finding and storing nuggets of relevant information so that when the time is right, they get assimilated into a conscious decision.

How to make use of this yourself? The more touchpoints you provide in your engagement process, the more nuggets you are feeding their gut. Familiarity breeds trust and makes decisions far easier to make. This is why internet remarketing is so effective; you are fuelling their desire with another touchpoint that evokes the memory of the desire and prompts action.

Guesswork Ruins Experiences

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Martin:

Emotional intelligence and irrational thinking are a part of how we make decisions, a big part. Your ability to react to someone else’s behaviours in person is your emotional intelligence and it’s also part of your survival instinct. It’s a slight misnomer in the world we live today, survival instinct is now more about getting ahead in the world and succeeding than avoiding a spear thrust or sabre-toothed tiger attack.

Life is easier than it used to be, we all know that, but what if you could apply the same concept of reading people’s faces, reactions and behaviours online as we do in person? What do you think Simon?

Simon:

Traditional marketing is pretty much a game of Guess Who. It involves matching up what you offer with the right person and hoping it’s the right option, all whilst people drop out along the way.

What if you could take out the guesswork?

You can really even the odds with personalization. People don’t want to see what they are not interested in: FACT. So the answer is determine what people have previously viewed, read and watched and ensure they get something relevant the next time. If you’re selling fashion items, the generic sales message will mostly be a complete disconnect unless you’re only selling one thing in one size and one colour!

True personalisation comes not only from observing what your customers look at but from understanding your customer’s behaviour patterns. The way they interact with your content and products gives tell tale signs of their likes and dislikes. We have some secret ways of doing this. If you’d like to find out how to use them yourself, contact us… Shhhh!

The Science of Attraction

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Martin:

Everything is behaviours - As you understand how your own brain works, you can start to understand how your customers think. For further context, did you know that 70% of how we communicate is nonverbal? You see it’s not what we say, it’s how we say it and the how is actually as much (if not more) about our body movement, your facial expression and oh so much about your eyes.

We humans are born with innate intelligence, preprogrammed so far that when a baby is born, they naturally look for human faces and read and learn from these faces step by step. Overtime those same faces are who we learn from, it is how we pick up behaviours but we don’t copy everything we see. In that first year before we even speak a word, we already can see mistakes in the faces of those teaching us. The eyes are a window to the soul is a very literal term. Simon will give us some more fun context.

Simon:

We are evolutionarily programmed to respond to faces. If we see a happy face, we feel comforted, if we see an angry face, we tense up. We follow the eyes of others to see where they are looking. Just look at the Peacock- eyes practically littering his tail, all shouting to his mate, “look at me and see how sexy I am!”

You can actually use this principle to encourage customers to feel a certain way about your products and fix their gaze on where you’d like it to go.

It’s not just humans either. In advertising, there’s something that’s become known as the 10.08 rule. It’s to do with clock faces. 10.08 shows the arms of the clock pointing up resembling a smile. Just look at Wikipedia's own image entry for 'clock face':

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By that logic, 8.20 is a very unhappy time indeed! (Side note: some advertisers have taken this rule a bit too literally and even their digital clocks display the time as 10.08!).

Cars too have faces. The lights are the eyes, the grill is the mouth. As a general rule, the faster the car, the angrier its face. The eyes are narrowed into slits and the mouth is wide and open in a grimace. People don’t want to drive happy soppy cars, they want to rule the road!

Putting all this into the mindset of a customer: You get what you project. Positive content reinforces our positive image. We act in ways that make us feel better about ourselves. Therefore, we can do a lot to influence positive behaviours simply by the emotions we project.

One powerful way of providing a positive emotional experience is to create a story. Ok, we hear all the time about the need for storytelling yadda yaddaddy ya but people don’t often realise the mechanism and its potential. A story is a narrative that someone can visually put themselves in. Once they put themselves in the picture, it become more of a real experience and the level of emotion is far heightened. The richer and more detailed the story, the more people are going to visualise themselves using what you are offering and the more likely they are to take action as a result.

The power of attraction is usually the first prompt towards a rational decision. Think of it this way, you don’t pick a partner based purely on their vital statistics. You’ve got to know you fancy them first and you can see that you are going to be able to get on with them. But how come so many companies want to broadcast what they do and their features before they’ve established why someone might actually want them?

Equally important in any fledgling relationship is not talking about yourself too much. Great if you want to bore the pants off someone rather than getting in them! How do you know if you’re sending out the right signals? A simple test is to read your messages and count how times you mention ‘I’ or ‘we’ vs. ‘you’. Let the conversation centre around them and you’ll get far further in enticing their decisions.

We are Digitally Imprinted

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Martin:

Behavioural imprinting comes from the animal kingdom and you can apply the same methodology to the friends you have in life. When we are forming ourselves as adults, we look for similar types of people to join their tribe.

What is tribal in this century? It is the music you love, the movies, the sports and of course your nature in terms of how athletic or intellectual you are and also a balance of your personality in terms of adventure or conservatism or daring. We find those we relate to. It’s implicit egotism to use the neuroscience phrasing, as we find people who remind us of ourselves and make us feel like we belong and to feel safe. Simon will show how that can be true online in terms of the brands we buy from and why.

Simon:

Our sense of understanding and acceptance comes from our previous experiences and influences. In essence, our expectations are primed from our history.

If you suddenly turned back time on the internet to the 90s, you’d get a shock. Most websites you visit will be a clutter of tightly packed information, ghastly colours and no white space. Over time, our expectations have evolved to give credibility to well designed and laid out websites.

Brains are pattern recognition machines, looking for consistency in expectations. When these are not met, we have an adverse reaction. We can get turned off really easily if such expectations are not upheld.

So how do you know what turns people on and off? This is what we call ‘data to stories’. All data (whether analytical, written or verbal) tells a story. It’s not a case of just looking for the facts- you’re looking out for the feelings. Once again, this is one of our closely guarded secrets- we’ll let you in on it if you want to contact us… shhhhh!

We are also primed by the experiences we glean from others. We believe things when others tell us because of our innate human trust system. We feel more comfortable taking action when we see others doing it first as there is safety in numbers.

This is known as mimetic desire, which is simply how we want what other people have. Think of the times when a child suddenly takes a liking to a toy when another kid plays with it. Us adults are pretty much the same, only more grown up about it i.e. subtle.

So a sure-fire way of getting people to take notice and take action is to show how others are benefiting. It’s literally hacking people to produce the trust hormone oxytocin.

Coming Back Should be Easy

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Martin:

Simon just defined loyalty in a digital age. We are loyal to people we love, respect and hangout with and in the same context, we are attracted to brands, services, products and all the bits and bobs in between. If they understand you, the individual, if their message resonates and you feel like they ‘get you’. What is loyalty Simon, how does it feel?

Simon:

I have a loyalty card for my favourite coffee shop. But to be honest, I couldn’t care less about it. The reason I’m loyal is because when I turn up, I get a smile (and sometimes even a crazy wave!) and am greeted like a friend. We laugh over silly jokes over whether I’m going to have my hot chocolate with cream, marshmallows and chocolate sprinkles- of course I am, but they like to tease in a fun way.

Loyalty isn’t a stamp on a card. It’s not that you’re the 1,000,000th customer. It’s the reliable experience and service. It’s knowing you’re going to go there and your day is going to get a little bit better.

So many companies seem to forget this when taking businesses online. You’re dealing with a computer so there’s no need to go to any extra effort. If that’s the attitude, their days are really becoming numbered.

If you’re looking at loyalty programmes and ways of bringing people back, making them feel surprise and delight should be at the top of the list.

Too many brands focus on the practical offer-based approaches. Think of it this way, if another competitor comes along with an equally good offer, what do you have then that’s any different? However, people will still come back to you if you make it easy and are a pleasure to deal with. Free stuff is just the extra clincher.

A Real Life Example

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This is an example of Elvis Jesus, a couture menswear brand. Here we used three different campaigns to ignite the fanbase and the graphic shows user growth over one week. The main point to note is how we connected all the parts instead of just social this or sales that. We connect the dots. As a point of proof, one of the campaigns was to celebrate their 20 years of existence and to ask fans if they wanted some of their past Greatest Hit designs reproduced and if so, which ones. From November 1st, they are releasing six of their best and the fan base is very excited. It's cool really, we changed the production, the understanding a company has of its customers and what they can do about this new knowledge.

The science of thinking can help you understand all the connected parts of your customer's brain and yes, it can increase sales.

If we could tell you how your customers think and we could use that insight to tell you what they want, would you be interested?