Customers Persuade Themselves: The Power of Positive Mind Chatter

Apr 28, 2015 | Brand Differentiation

Your customers’ own thoughts are more powerful and influential than what you say.

According to Dr. Richard Perloff, an expert in persuasive communications, “People’s own mental reactions to a message play a critical role in the persuasion process, typically a more important role than the message itself.”

This is an important finding, because how you make your customers feel is more important than the arguments you deliver.

The Voice Inside Your Customer’s Head

Have you ever tried to sell a product or service you know will deliver real value for a client, but they just won’t buy?

You share the facts. You prove the ROI. You demonstrate the value.

But no matter how sound your arguments they just don’t act. It’s almost dumbfounding to see a customer lock into their old ways when you clearly have the better solution.

As frustrating as the sales process might be, there is a fascinating psychological response taking place. The customer is not hearing the messages that you are delivering. You’re being drowned out by mind chatter — their inner dialogue.

Customers Recall Mind Chatter Over Messages

According to Dr. Perloff, when you receive a persuasive message you are more apt to recall your mind chatter than the message itself.

You remember your internal arguments for or against the message you received. You remember how the message (or the deliverer of the message) made you feel.

Try a little experiment. Listen to a politician or an activist that you disagree with — the more controversial the better. Listen to their argument as you would normally. Let them rile you up a little bit and get under your skin.

A day or two later jot down some notes of what you recall from the program. If you check back to the facts you will likely find the items you remember the most vividly were the ones that sparked the most mind chatter. And those memories will likely be biased by your mind chatter too.

That’s the power of your inner voice. It influences what you hear and what you remember.

Create the Conditions for Positive Mind Chatter

From a branding context this research has important implications. It’s not what you say, it’s the total customer experience you create that matters.

The words are secondary. You are creating the conditions to quiet the voice inside your customer’s head so they can receive the messages you are delivering.

This is achieved across multiple fronts:

  • Positioning: How your brand is known in the marketplace
  • Visual Identity: How you present the brand and the feelings you create
  • Brand Storylines: How you engage customers in conversation and build relationship
  • Culture: How your customers interact with your team and the experience they receive

All aspects of your brand work together. The more you can positively engage your customers across multiple fronts the more likely you can create positive mind chatter for your brand.

Speak to the Inner Voice

You can’t convince someone to buy if their internal voice is screaming disagreement. And you can’t persuade someone who doesn’t want to be persuaded. This is the fundamentals of persuasion.

Customers persuade themselves. Play to this in your own brand, and tune your marketing to speak to your customer’s inner voice.

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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