This blog is modified from my article on Forbes. Click HERE to read the original.

Chances are, your marketing is ineffective at driving long-term behavioral change. 

I say this not because I know anything about your marketing. I don’t need to. I say this because I study human behavior, specifically behavioral design, and I know how cognitively complex today’s world is and the uphill battle that your marketing has just to get consciously considered. 

It’s hard these days! 

Estimates suggest people are exposed to 700 marketing messages per day, yet 90% of them get filtered out by our subconscious. The way to seamlessly pass through this filter is to use behavioral design to develop marketing messages that are psychologically optimized. 


Horizontal banner with hands holding magnet, megaphone and smartphone with heart on screen surrounded by symbols and charts. Social media marketing, seo optimization. Modern vector illustration


Here are four rules to remember if you want to effectively implement Mindstate Marketing in your business.


1. Consider Your Audience’s Goals and Motivations

People don’t make purchases without a psychological reason, so what is your audience’s reason for buying? 

  1. Begin by looking at their higher-order goal. What are they really trying to achieve? 
  2. Next identify the core motivation driving them to achieve that goal. 
  3. Consider their approach to reaching their goal. In pursuit of this goal, are they looking to minimize their risk of failure, or are they seeking to maximize their chances of success? 
  4. Finally, consider any cognitive heuristics (or mental shortcuts) they use to make decisions easier and faster. 

When you understand these four factors, you can present your audience with a compelling reason to buy. But this doesn’t mean they will act. Action requires effort, and we all hate effort. 

This last step is often the hardest: getting people to take your desired action. This is when you need hot-state “triggers” to create immediacy and get people to act now. So, how do you create these hot-states that trigger behavior? That’s what the next three steps will show you.


2. Have a Purpose Behind Every Creative Element

There is power in the details when you start building out your creative, so the key is to include details that will trigger a psychological hot-state and get your audience to take action.

Let’s return for a moment to how someone approaches their goals. If you know they want to maximize their chances for success (promotion focused), you may present your brand as innovative, boundary-pushing, or leading the pack. These terms psychologically frame your brand in such a way that the audience will perceive themselves as having an advantage with you over others. 

Visually, you could show someone with their arms spread wide set against an expansive backdrop. This imagery says: You’re open to new ideas and taking risks—so are we.Silhouette of businessman holding target board on the top of mountain with over blue sky and sunlight. It is symbol of leadership successful achievement with goal and objective target

If your audience prefers to minimize risk (prevention focused), your copy could use terms like risk-free, strong protocols, and scientifically-based to communicate that you’re minimizing the risk of failure. Visually, someone looking directly into the camera with their arms crossed confers safety and security. You’ll feel more comfortable with that imagery if you prefer a prevention focus.

You can amplify hot-states by having a purpose behind all your creative elements.


3. Build Back from Your Preferred Behavior

Remember this rule: the closer your marketing is to the end behavior, the better chance you have to get people to act. 

Traditional marketing doesn’t operate this way. Many brands overly focus on building awareness through online, TV, and print ads. Those are worthwhile objectives, but that’s not what we’re after. We’re designing around the behavior we want our audience to take, so we’re going to start with our preferred behavior and build back from there.

Here’s an example of how this works. I once worked on a project to drive a greater share of credit card transactions in a particular clothing store. The store was where the behavior (purchasing clothes) was happening, so we focused our efforts there.

First, we developed stickers with a visual prime of the company’s logo in the front window of the store. Before the shopper ever walked in, we were priming them. That resulted in a 2% lift in purchases made using that company’s card. Next, we placed a sticker on the changing room mirrors. 

We knew that women in a changing room were in a hot state and more susceptible to influence. If they liked what they saw, they were likely to purchase, and we wanted the card logo within their field of vision. That resulted in a 3% lift in purchases made using our client’s credit card.

Finally, we placed a sticker on the checkout corner opposite the register. This is where we saw the greatest lift, and it’s obvious why: our messaging was closest to the desired behavior.

If you’re in line for the register, you’re going to make a purchase. It’s just a matter of what you’re paying with, and with that sticker in place, we saw a 4% lift in purchases using the client’s card.

With Mindstate Marketing, it’s best to start nearest the behavior and work back from there.


4. Don’t Limit Your Influence

Once you establish behavioral design theory and practices within your organization, don’t limit its influence to just marketing. You can launch an entire brand using Mindstate Marketing. That’s what Wicked Crisps did. Every aspect of their brand was behaviorally designed: name, logo, product, tagline, packaging, website, etc. 

I often get asked if Mindstate Marketing is appropriate for a specific category or problem and the answer is always “yes.” 

Here’s why: behavioral design is all about moving buyers from an existing behavior to a  preferred one. That’s it. It’s not just a shopper model. It covers all cases where behavioral change is needed. 


Set Solution to the problem in psychology icon isolated on white and green, black background. Puzzle. Therapy for mental health


So, if you have a behavioral challenge or opportunity, then Mindstate Marketing is an appropriate solution that can help you across the board. 

And if you want to learn more about why it works (and some examples of it in action), get the Mindstate Marketing Starter Package. For only $39.99, you’ll get 5 resources designed to help you begin your journey to get better results from your marketing and grow your business.


Watch Free Video Training

Topics: Marketing, Motivation, Business Owners, goals