This blog is modified from an article on Forbes. You can read the original here.

As I prepared to launch my first book on marketing by applying behavioral design techniques, I decided to answer what I saw as a critical question: Could I use my own mindstate marketing system to drive sales of my book Marketing to Mindstates through social media?

Mindstate marketing gets people to listen, care and act: You apply neurological and behavioral insights to the development of customer interactions to psychologically influence and change their behavior.


The book launch was my chance to use my own recipe for marketing to drive book sales, and along the way, I learned lessons every leader can benefit from.

Market to a Mindstate™

Mindstate marketing is all about influencing behavior, and to do that, you must examine your consumer’s emotions. You might be asking yourself, "Shouldn’t you look at what a person is thinking to influence their decision making?" Contrary to popular belief, we are not always influenced by reason — we are emotional beings, and these emotions impact our decision making.


Therefore, the first step to selling is to understand the emotional “mindstate” of your target audience. A mindstate is a temporary state of mind when you're under high emotional arousal and rely on subconscious emotional factors, which makes you more susceptible to influence.


You can identify the emotional mindstates of your customers by asking two “W” questions: Which of the nine motivations best explains your customers' desires, and what path do they take (to maximize gains or minimize losses) when going after these desires? In the case of selling my book, this included analyzing copywriters, creative directors, brand managers, and marketing researchers.

Develop a Strategy

I built a three-pronged strategy — email, influencer, and social media marketing — to cover all my bases. For this article, I want to focus on the behavior design strategy and tactics I used on social media. As most leaders know, if you want to sell your service or product, it’s critical to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, which is very possible on social media. 


Along with the mindstate, another part of my behavioral design strategy was to build my social media strategy on key cognitive heuristics, or mental shortcuts, because I believed these would make engagement with my posts quicker and easier. For my social media posts, I tapped into three key cognitive heuristics to build messaging:


  • Bizarreness Effect: The idea that people are more likely to share bizarre posts.
  • Reciprocity: The idea that by giving something away, people will feel inclined to reciprocate.
  • In-Group Bias: The idea of building a tribe of people around a shared cause or belief.


In today’s world, people can sniff out a lack of authenticity just to expand your potential “tribe.” When you are building your tribe, clearly define who and what you stand for.

Don't Rely on Bizarreness and Reciprocity

About a month before the book launch, I created accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for my book. Beginning with the bizarreness effect, I posted memes on Instagram and Facebook of famous TV characters and celebrities that simply stated their mindstate tendency. Pictures of these people appear on our timelines every day, but you don’t always see posts describing their state of mind (hence, the "bizarreness" factor).


The result? Each post received a couple hundred likes, but they didn’t make a real impact on behaviors.


On LinkedIn, I hoped “reciprocity” would help me drive interest in the book by giving away mindstate primers and messaging blueprints. I've heard many social media gurus say that if you offer value, you’ll be rewarded, so I was shocked when these efforts were a bust. No downloads.


Sitting at two strikes, I needed in-group bias to come through for me, and it did.

Prioritize genuine connections in a tribe.


Without a doubt, my biggest hit came from using in-group bias to build a community of people who could identify with doing something far outside their comfort zones. I’m a behavioral design expert but a first-time author, so I shared moments from my journey when I did something outside of my comfort zone. For example, a picture of me moments before my very first conference presentation (skin green and ready to throw up, I might add) garnered hundreds of likes and dozens of shares.

In all, these in-group posts received four times the engagement compared to my other strategies.


Because the in-group posts were open and honest, people could relate to them. They helped cut through the “humblebrag” posts and forge a genuine connection with my followers. The bizarreness posts lacked that connection because they were opting instead for the shock factor, and the reciprocity posts were more focused on the transaction.


There a few ways you can create a behavioral design marketing strategy, too.


  1. With your creative team, have each person brainstorm 10 ways to activate consumers’ higher-order goals — the reason that's driving them to engage with your product or service. If you’re selling a new product, ask, “How can we communicate that our new product will help them reach these goals with the least time and effort possible?”

  2. Empower your creative team by making sure they have these mindstate profiles in hand. Note: All of these profiles are in the back of my book Marketing to Mindstates. And ask them to do what they normally do: Be creative. Be compelling. Find that nugget — that spark of passion you have around this idea — and work from there.

  3. Pressure-test your website against the mindstate profile. Start with your inspiration and ideas, and create a website or social media profile that intuitively feels right for your customer. Then, map all creative ideas and tactics back to the mindstate profile.


Through this process, I learned two key points about social media: First, consistency is king. I’d get busy and forget to post for days at a time. Second, experiment until you find your thing. Being bizarre didn’t work, so I shifted to being real, which was where I struck oil. You must find what works for you and your audience.

Need Help Applying Mindstate™ Marketing to Your Business’s Marketing?

If you want to learn how to apply Mindstate Marketing to your business, join one of our Mindstate Marketing Workshops. We’ll help you gain a deeper understanding of behavioral science and provide a practical system you can implement to get better, more consistent marketing results.

Learn How

Topics: Behavioral Design, Social Media