NeuroMarketing Tip: Use Babies Images

Our brain is wired to pay attention to faces and especially baby faces. Whenever possible, use baby images in your advertising.

Here is a eye tracking study done on a webpage with a baby picture. Where is the hot spot here?

use baby images

Consumer behavior: Make them Belong

Sense of belongingSense of belonging is really important to human beings. It is part of being human and goes back to the times we lived in groups while hunting and raising kids.

When you talk about your company on your website, it is boring and people will not pay attention. Create a community and everything changes.

This website talks about urinary incontinence and we decided to go light, fun and create a environment where people can discuss and share their experiences.

Brain Based Selling: Creating Connections

Want to sell more? Create deeper connections with your audience. Find similarities between them and your brand. Create rapport.

Here is a good example of what I mean. On Petsmart’s website where they show their executives and their pets. Do you think this creates a deeper connection with their customers?

Creating connections

Faces sell more

When advertising using faces will attract more attention.

The face needs to be looking at what you want the prospect to see, be the headline, product etc.

The brain will be drawn to the face and then subconsciously will be drawn to what the eyes of the image appear to be looking at.

Gender matters if you are selling to men. Female customers are usually unaffected by the gender in a photo. But they love babies.

Sexy images make men more impulsive and interested in immediate gratification

baby girl face


Make them belong

People have an inherent tendency to categorize themselves into groups. They tend to base their identity on their group affiliations.

The need to belong is high on Maslow pyramid.

Think of ways you can make customers feel that they belong.

You can do this by having a member base,  special prices for existing customers (Comcast could learn this one), T-shirts, special perks and many other ways.

Can you name a few?


How to Manufacture Desire

Note: This post originally appeared in TechCrunch

Here’s the gist:

  • The degree to which a company can utilize habit-forming technologies will increasingly decide which products and services succeed or fail.
  • Addictive technology creates “internal triggers” which cue users without the need for marketing, messaging or any other external stimuli.  It becomes a user’s own intrinsic desire.
  • Creating internal triggers comes from mastering the “desire engine” and its four components: trigger, action, variable reward, and commitment.
  • Consumers must understand how addictive technology works to prevent being manipulated while still enjoying the benefits of these innovations.

Type the name of almost any successful consumer web company into your search bar and add the word “addict” after it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Try “Facebook addict” or “Zynga addict” or even “Pinterest addict” and you’ll soon get a slew of results from hooked users and observers deriding the narcotic-like properties of these web sites. How is it that these companies, producing little more than bits of code displayed on a screen, can seemingly control users’ minds? Why are these sites so addictive and what does their power mean for the future of the web?

We’re on the precipice of a new era of the web. As infinite distractions compete for our attention, companies are learning to master new tactics to stay relevant in users’ minds and lives. Today, just amassing millions of users is no longer good enough. Companies increasingly find that their economic value is a function of the strength of the habits they create. But as some companies are just waking up to this new reality, others are already cashing in.

First-to-Mind Wins

A company that forms strong user habits enjoys several benefits to its bottom line. For one, this type of company creates “internal triggers” in users. That is to say, users come to the site without any external prompting. Instead of relying on expensive marketing or worrying about differentiation, habit-forming companies get users to “self trigger” by attaching their services to the users’ daily routines and emotions. A cemented habit is when users subconsciously think, “I’m bored,” and instantly Facebook comes to mind. They think, “I wonder what’s going on in the world?” and before rationale thought occurs, Twitter is the answer. The first-to-mind solution wins.

Manufacturing Desire

But how do companies create the internal triggers needed to form habits? The answer: they manufacture desire. While fans of Mad Men are familiar with how the ad industry once created consumer desire during Madison Avenue’s golden era, those days are long gone. A multi-screen world, with ad-wary consumers and a lack of ROI metrics, has rendered Don Draper’s big budget brainwashing useless to all but the biggest brands. Instead, startups manufacture desire by guiding users through a series of experiences designed to create habits. I call these experiences “desire engines,” and the more often users run through them, the more likely they are to self-trigger.

I created the desire engine in order to help others understand what is at the heart of habit-forming technology. It highlights common patterns I observed in my career in the video gaming and online advertising industries. While the desire engine is generic enough for a broad explanation of habit formation, I’ll focus on applications in consumer Internet for this post.


The trigger is the actuator of a behavior—the spark plug in the engine. Triggers come in two types: external and internal. Habit-forming technologies start by alerting users with external triggers like an email, a link on a web site, or the app icon on a phone. By cycling continuously through successive desire engines, users begin to form internal triggers, which become attached to existing behaviors and emotions. Soon users are internally triggered every time they feel a certain way.  The internal trigger becomes part of their routine behavior and the habit is formed.

For example, suppose Barbra, a young lady in Pennsylvania, happens to see a photo in her Facebook newsfeed taken by a family member from a rural part of the State.  It’s a lovely photo and since she’s planning a trip there with her brother Johnny, the trigger intrigues her.


After the trigger comes the intended action. Here, companies leverage two pulleys of human behavior – motivation and ability. To increase the odds of a user taking the intended action, the behavior designer makes the action as easy as possible, while simultaneously boosting the user’s motivation. This phase of the desire engine draws upon the art and science of usability design to ensure that the user acts the way the designer intends.

Using the example of Barbra, with a click on the interesting picture in her newsfeed she’s taken to a website she’s never been to before called Pinterest.  Once she’s done the intended action (in this case, clicking on the photo), she’s dazzled by what she sees next.

Variable Reward

What separates the desire engine from a plain vanilla feedback loop is the engine’s ability to create wanting in the user. Feedback loops are all around us, but predictable ones don’t create desire. The predictable response of your fridge light turning on when you open the door doesn’t drive you to keep opening it again and again. However, add some variability to the mix—say a different treat magically appears in your fridge every time you open it—and voila, desire is created. You’ll be opening that door like a lab rat in aSkinner box.

Variable schedules of reward are one of the most powerful tools that companies use to hook users. Research shows that levels of dopamine surge when the brain is expecting a reward. Introducing variability multiplies the effect, creating a frenzied hunting state, which suppresses the areas of the brain associated with judgment and reason while activating the parts associated with wanting and desire. Although classic examples include slot machines and lotteries, variable rewards are prevalent in habit-forming technologies as well.

When Barbra lands on Pinterest, not only does she see the image she intended to find, but she’s also served a multitude of other glittering objects. The images are associated with what she’s generally interested in – namely things to see during a trip to rural Pennsylvania – but there are some others that catch her eye also. The exciting juxtaposition of relevant and irrelevant, tantalizing and plain, beautiful and common sets her brain’s dopamine system aflutter with the promise of reward. Now she’s spending more time on the site, hunting for the next wonderful thing to find. Before she knows it, she’s spent 45 minutes scrolling in search of her next hit.


The last phase of the desire engine is where the user is asked to do bit of work. This phase has two goals, as far as the behavior engineer is concerned. The first is to increase the odds that the user will make another pass through the desire engine when presented with the next trigger. Second, now that the user’s brain is swimming in dopamine from the anticipation of reward in the previous phase, it’s time to pay some bills. The commitment generally comes in the form of asking the user to give some combination of time, data, effort, social capital or money.

But unlike a sales funnel, which has a set endpoint, the commitment phase isn’t about consumers opening up their wallets and moving on with their day. The commitment implies an action that improves the service for the next go-around.  Inviting friends, stating preferences, building virtual assets, and learning to use new features are all commitments that improve the service for the user. These commitments can be leveraged to make the trigger more engaging, the action easier, and the reward more exciting with every pass through the desire engine.

As Barbra enjoys endlessly scrolling the Pinterest cornucopia, she builds a desire to keep the things that delight her. By collecting items, she’ll be giving the site data about her preferences. Soon she will follow, pin, re-pin, and make other commitments, which serve to increase her ties to the site and prime her for future loops through the desire engine.

Super Power

A reader recently wrote to me, “If it can’t be used for evil, it’s not a super power.” He’s right. And under this definition, habit design is indeed a super power. If used for good, habit design can enhance people’s lives with entertaining and even healthful routines. If used for evil, habits can quickly turn into wasteful addictions.

But, like it or not, habit-forming technology is already here. The fact that we have greater access to the web through our various devices also gives companies greater access to us. As companies combine this greater access with the ability to collect and process our data at higher speeds than ever before, we’re faced with a future where everything becomes more addictive. This trinity of access, data, and speed creates new opportunities for habit-forming technologies to hook users. Companies need to know how to harness the power of the desire engine to improve peoples’ lives, while consumers need to understand the mechanics of behavior engineering to protect themselves from manipulation.

What do you think? Desire engines are all around us. Where do you see them manufacturing desire in your life?

Client attraction, sushi, price elasticity and business choreography

I’d like to show you some strategies on client attraction by telling you a story of a sushi restaurant in Japan.

Now, maybe you are not in the restaurant business so wherever I write restaurant just mentally substitute for your own business and when I write sushi substitute by your own products or services. These strategies apply to any type of business.

There is a restaurant in Japan that sells sushi, like many others in that area.

This one is run by sushi chef Jiro that is 85 years old.

He has a very small restaurant. Only 10 seats. Note, not 10 tables but 10 chairs.

There are no appetizers, soups or any other option than sushi. Is a sushi only place.

For you to dine there, you will pay $385 a person. Yes, $385 to eat sushi only.

You also have to make reservations, no walk-ins there. The reservation needs to be made at least a month in advance.

Yes, you are going to eat the best sushi there is to eat and will have a unique experience but probably not the type of experience you are thinking: an informal dinner with friends and a lot of talking.

You will eat in front of chef Jiro san. He will prepare sushi one by one and one at a time put the sushi in front of you, keeping an eye on how you eat, what you say, how you say. Yes, a little intimidating but you still need to make reservations a month in advance for the privilege of dinning there.

There is no shortage of people that will pay $385 for a sushi dinner at this restaurant.

Why other sushi restaurants cannot do the same?

Of course he provides the best quality sushi you can dream of and he is a perfect sushi chef. But there is more.

  • As an entrepreneur he is obsessed with his business always trying to find ways to improve. He believes entrepreneurs need to work hard. Not a big fan of a 4 hour work week book. We have something in common.
  • He says that as a business owner you need to be impatient, that is how you get things done.
  • You need to improve your skills always. There is no such thing as I know all and don’t need to work on self- improvement anymore.
  • You need to establish a standard of self- discipline. This is a point where a lot of entrepreneurs fail because they mix the fact that they have more freedom with the need to have discipline in business in order to have a successful business.
  • Be self-critical. Try to see the weak points in you first.
  • Always be looking ahead
  • Be in peace with the fact that as an entrepreneur you will always be a better leader than collaborator. It is your nature.
  • Passion needs to be there all the time. Even when things get rough.
  • It is ok to insist in having things your way, after all, you decide how to run your business.

oh, I’m sorry, you were expecting some easy  tips to attract more clients?

Not today. You see, client attraction starts with you, with how you see your business and how you position yourself at the head of the business. Your mindset and standards. Then it goes on how you create your business choreography in every single touch point with clients and prospects.

If you  don’t create this business choreography, you will have to settle for market price and get whoever knocks at your door.

There is sushi everywhere, here and in Japan. You can eat sushi at a $10 buffet.

How on Earth can he charge such top prices? I told you how.

There are too many of us, it doesn’t matter the industry you are in.

We need to differentiate ourselves not just because marketers tell you so but because it is how you thrive.

It is not enough for you to make a decision to charge high end prices. Everything else needs to be aligned in order for you to be able to do that and to attract people willing to pay. For that to happen you need to rethink all of the above.

It is in every detail. Jiro san trains his staff. Each member goes to a 10 year training with Jiro before they can be called a sushi chef inside the restaurant.

We now live in the age of outsourcing. How much training do you provide to your team members? hum!

Do you have people posting messages for you on social media? Editing videos? following people? Every social media output is a touch point. Don’t take that as a minor thing.

While some years ago 7 to 8 touch points with a prospect would lead to a sale, today you need an average of 18 touch points before the person even considers buying from you.

Position your business for success and create a business choreography. Become the Jiro in your industry


Love me, hate me but look at me

Frankly every time I go to a social network I can hear the screams of professionals: “Love me, Hate me but look at me”

Every one with a different tip, a cooler picture, or in many cases, a bigger lie. “look how I made 6 figures in 3 days: etc.

It looks like we are so desperate to be popular, to be visible and to get people to pay attention to us that we just do anything.

So desperate, we forget to search for what is really important: Qualified customers with an emotional reason to stay close to us.

We forget what is really important in our business and just spend time in actions that will not bring us any profits. Even worse, most of the time we forget to set a structured process to convert the few that do pay attention to us.

No wonder, failure is a word that crosses the mind of many of these entrepreneurs.

Friend, social media is a knife with a sharp edge on both ends. It can help you a lot but it can also kill you.

Unfortunately, lately it looks more like a harakiri sword where many entrepreneurs use to commit suicide.
They drink this drug of choice and leave their business to the hands of fake popularity.

It drives me crazy. I love what social media can do for business but I can’t stand anymore this search for fool’s gold. A new trick everyday to fool yourself that things will happen fast and easy. If only you buy this new e-book, software, program etc.

Stop this nonsense right now I beg you!

Achieving long lasting prosperity takes more than this. Above all it takes some thinking time and a strategy.

Let’s look at this:
If you were an artist with your work in a gallery, how could you stand out from the other paintings?

1. You could paint a bigger picture. That alone would make you pop. In marketing, I think this is where social media can be used well. You can be everywhere.

2. Paint a different picture. You can always go with the herd and do whatever everyone else is doing or… can do what makes sense to your business, have a structured process to convert your marketing efforts. Let’s face it, you can be marketing all day but if you don’t have a process to make sales where are you going to end up?
I talk to people everyday and so many don’t have a process to sell.

3. You can paint a picture that tells a story. You can create emotional connections, have people stop and pay attention to you, tell your hero’s story and engage people is a whole different level than number of friends and followers. Those numbers don’t matter if they don’t pay attention. I have a whole system on how to position your business to become irresistible here.

4. You can do all of the above and stand beside the picture engaging with possible buyers and closing the sale. Yes you. not a tool, not an audio, not a message on a wall. You. You are necessary in your business. You must have a process, a strategy and you must ask for the sale. You don’t need to be miss popular, you need to be a true entrepreneur that does what it takes to succeed. You need to stay away from the herd, be yourself and take specific actions to make your business grow. Most of them will happen outside the social media environment. Stop fooling yourself. Social media is just media, it is not the solution to all your business needs or marketing needs.

Come on, you can achieve so much more.