No matter what your building company does, advertising remains an instantly-forgettable blip in the day-to-day life of your homebuyers! You’ve ignored more advertising today than you even realize because your brain decided – without your permission, I might add – to disregard it.
So how do you get inside their head?
From the placebo effect and false memories to mirror neurons; our brains are incredibly powerful. It does things without you even knowing. You’re on auto-pilot far more often than you realize – as are your home buying prospects. So how can you create marketing messaging that your prospects’ brain will allow them to hear? Let’s address just one aspect today: the Reticular Activating System (RAS) – the gatekeeper of your brain.
So what’s that, you ask? Your brain has three primary sections. The neocortex is where your brain processes data, math, critical thinking, etc. The second part is the mid brain (limbic system); this is where your brain interpret social situations and the meaning of things. But today, I want to address the third part: the reptilian complex – I like to call it the lizard brain! The lizard brain is the oldest part of your brain, and to a marketer, possibly the most important.
The lizard brain reacts, it doesn’t think! I like to say it decides, ‘should I eat it, kill it or mate with it?’ All really important stuff of course.
The RAS is the part of your brain that connects your four senses: hearing, seeing, touching and taste to your consciousness. Note that smell is not included as it is processed in the limbic system, but that is for another article. It is the gatekeeper of your conscious mind. Just hearing a marketing messages isn’t enough. You want your message to enter the prospect’s consciousness so they are fully aware of what you said. In order to do that, your message has to cross the limen threshold. Without getting technical, the limen threshold is the brain’s boundary of human perception. Cross it and your message registers. If you do not exceed the limen threshold, your message is sub-limen. You know the term for that: subliminal.
The reticular activating system resides in the lizard brain and has three primary functions:
1. Positive Focusing – This area decides what you hear. Like a new mom hears her baby crying ever so lightly because the RAS knows it is important.
2. Negative Filtering – Live by the railroad tracks? You eventually won’t even register the train going by; thank your RAS.
3. Individual perceiving – Ask any judge, there’s nothing less reliable than an eye witness account of an accident. That’s because your brain constructs its own perception of what happened. Just ask five people what happened, you’ll see.
So, you want to create marketing that will get past the RAS gatekeeper? It may be easier than you think. Three things get a free pass from the RAS every time:
1. Things your prospect values
2. Things that are unique
3. Things that are threatening
Let’s address values first. The key to successful marketing is understanding the ideas, schemas (blue prints) and feelings already present in your prospect’s mind. By understanding what they know, you can sneak your message past the gatekeeper like a Trojan horse. No one does this better than Geico. Notice how most of their television ads use existing stories – like Abe Lincoln, Three Little Pigs, Washington Crossing the Delaware, etc. They use an existing storyline you already know (and therefore value because of the influence principle of commitment and consistency) and simply ride their message on that storyline into your consciousness.
You can do it too. Who are your buyers? What do they already know and value? Let’s assume they’re baby boomers. The song ‘House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals is a perfect segue into your message. What if you know they really value outdoor living? Then address outdoor living in your messaging. What it they value privacy and safety… address it. What they know, they value. What they value they listen to.
How about uniqueness? I love this one most of all, but it is also very difficult to achieve as a builder. That said, it’s incredibly powerful. Most builders do many things the same. They use the same nails, 2×4’s, drywall, cabinet vendors, shingles, etc. and some even use the same subcontractors. So how can you be unique? I have a great list of questions to ask yourself that will help you find your uniqueness. Email me and I’ll gladly send it to you.
Your uniqueness – or your product’s uniqueness – is a free pass beyond the boundary of perception known as the limen threshold. In the cola world when Pepsi and Coke battled for position #1, along comes 7-Up. BAM, unique meant instant market share.
We work with a client out of the Nashville, Tennessee area. Their market is retirees who are also full-time RV’ers. Now there are plenty of builders building for the retirement market, but none like The Gardens. The owner and developer, Tim Wilson, has used his product’s uniqueness to create an evangelistic brand of customers who not only sell his product, but travel with him to trade shows and act as ambassadors. What’s unique about Tim’s community? His retirement homes include finished garages for huge RVs and are incredibly community-centric. Not for everyone, but that single uniqueness sets his community apart from all the other retirement communities out there. True uniqueness not only gives you immediate conscious access, but it tends to reduce the competition considerably.
Lastly, let’s address things that threaten us. Obviously, no builder wants to scare a customer – or do you? How about limited time incentives and offers? How about limited cul-de-sac lots remaining? What about limited river-view home sites? You get the point. Don’t miss the opportunity to use marketing messaging to convey potential loss.
There’s so much to say on this subject and so much detail to share, but so little space. Just remember that in order for your messaging to get a free pass into your prospect’s consciousness you need to achieve one of three things: Threaten them with losing something. Appeal to their values by selling what they already value. Or, understand your uniqueness and push it hard.
Remember, your prospect’s brain is determined to keep your annoying marketing and advertising at bay. Whenever possible, their mind will parse out what it believes is non-relevant information – and more often than not that is your email, or your blog, or your magazine ad, or your Facebook post, or your phone message.
Now, got get in their head!