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4 Offers You Actually Can’t Refuse

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There are natural substances inside every single human being that drive us to action. Image Source

These substances are chemicals, produced by our bodies in reaction to stimuli. Activate one of these chemicals, and you truly have an offer no one can refuse.

Simon Senek is a pioneer in understanding these chemicals and using them effectively.

According to Senek, these are the 4 most powerful chemicals.

Endorphins: The Exercise Chemical

Endorphins are released when we do physical activity. They are the reason “runner’s high” exists. Endorphins also mask physical pain. When you are pushing yourself further than you’ve ever gone before, endorphins are released so you feel good.

Toyota’s most recent ad campaign stimulates endorphins by placing ordinary people in “boring” old Toyota car models with a professional race car driver. The driver whips the car around tight turns on a race track to the delight of his passengers. Toyota is showing that their cars are exciting and push the limits of what’s possible. Just the idea of being edgy in a Toyota is enough to produce endorphins.

Chevy decided to one-up Toyota by creating a series of ads where their Sonic model cars go bungee jumping, sky diving, and one even does a kick-flip over a giant skateboard. The Sonic is a car built for young professionals who crave excitement, and Chevy needed to appeal to that. Watch the video below and see how you feel after watching it. If you start to sweat a little and get excited, Chevy did their job and induced endorphins.

Neither Chevy nor Toyota are particularly known for being exciting, but they were able to pull fun aspects out of their brands and use them. You can do the same by discovering the most exciting aspects of your brand and highlighting them.

Dopamine: The To-Do List Chemical

You know the feeling you get when you check items off of your to-do list? That is dopamine being released. Here’s an example of how dopamine works (unscientifically). Dopamine is released when we eat – you see an apple tree in the distance and the thought of eating an apple is enough to release a small dose of dopamine. You begin walking toward the tree, and as you get closer to the tree, say at the halfway point (a to-do on the checklist of getting the apple) you get more dopamine. When you reach the tree and get to eat the apple, you get the most dopamine.

How is your product positioned to help the customer reach their goal? Show how your product fits into reaching the “apple” and dopamine will be released. However, the goal must be specific and tangible to qualify for dopamine. Interview a few of your customers and discover what their long-term goals are, then show how your offering helps reach those goals.

How powerful is Dopamine? How about $100 million dollars powerful. The iPhone application Mailbox sold for $100m without ever fully releasing publicly, simply by turning your inbox into a beautifully designed to-do list. Check out their promo video that led to millions of signups. It exemplifies how we crave to check things off of our to-do lists.

Serotonin: The Limelight Chemical

Serotonin is the feeling you get the minute a shiny new diploma is placed in your hand while your closest friends and family watch with pride. When we make others (and ourselves) proud, serotonin is released. The reason Mercedes’ logo is on the outside of the car is because owning a Mercedes makes you feel proud of who you are, which releases serotonin and makes you feel good.

Advertisers use and abuse serotonin to sell products all the time. Gucci bags, Sperry Shoes, luxury cars, and Apple products all carry weight because of how they make us look in front of others. Not all brands are Gucci, and they shouldn’t be.

However, there are ways to cast your brand in the limelight. Showing impressive customers on your website, quotes from famous people or influencers about your product, and endorsements by celebrities are tangible ways to create a brand that exudes pride.

Beats headphones created a $500 million dollar brand using serotonin. The popular headphone company enlisted droves of professional athletes to wear their headphones before games, during press conferences, and even on the sidelines. The resulting conclusion is that pro athletes wear Beats, and if you wear Beats you’ll be like them. Beats aren’t even great headphones but they now own 50% of the entire headphones market – a testament to the power of the limelight chemical.

Oxytocin: The Friend Chemical

We like sitting next to our friends at events, in class, or at home just hanging out. That’s because oxytocin is released when we feel safe, as if someone has our back. In fact, a biological reason shaking hands is used to seal deals is because shaking hands creates a feeling of affirmation and oxytocin is released. Business relationships are often based on rational reason, but the emotional connection is what creates a lasting bond.

The web has made it difficult to use oxytocin, but there are tactics that work for producing the friend drug. The best companies in the world make their customers feel special and safe by interacting directly with customers on Twitter and Facebook. This makes their cold brand turn into a warm person and oxytocin is produced. Next time someone tweets about your product or mentions you, reply and say “thank you” it’s a simple enough task that will make that person feel a connection.

J. Crew online takes the cake for best use of the friendly chemical.

“J. Crew has a Factory page where new arrivals are sold in very limited amounts. During a particular sale there, a customer used a “one-time” coupon during checkout, but he accidentally cancelled the order after placing it. With the coupon now wasted, the customer decided to email support.

J. Crew told the customer that they would gladly hold the order with the coupon applied; the customer would just have to call to confirm the order (due to the limited supply). The customer wasn’t able to call until the next day, and by that time, the original items ordered were sold out.

To his surprise, the customer was contacted by a support rep, who stayed on the line with him to pick out similar items from the regular J. Crew site, and at checkout, the support rep applied the closest Factory prices and the original coupon for the customer. Needless to say, the customer was ecstatic.” This excerpt is from a post I wrote for entitled “Features Tell, but Benefits Sell“.

Opportunities for creating long-lasting relationships present themselves, and adding a personal touch will seal the deal to earn a life-long fan.

How to Use These Chemicals

When we are reading a story and feel chills, watch a movie and begin to sweat, or read a book and feel all warm inside, we are reacting to the stimulation of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.

The makers of great marketing campaigns have learned how to effectively use these chemicals, and now you can too. Tailor your marketing efforts toward these chemicals, and you will end up with not only effective results, but a connection with your customers. It worked for Chevy, Beats, and J Crew, and it will work for you too.

Over to You

How do you use chemical stimuli in your marketing? Share in the comments.

About Josh Haynam

Josh is the co-founder of Interact, a place for creating fun quizzes that also generate leads. Josh regularly writes about lead generation and conversion rate optimization (CRO). He also enjoys a good game of pickup basketball. Feel free to hit him up on Twitter (@jhaynam).

20 thoughts on “4 Offers You Actually Can’t Refuse

  1. I’m editing a new book by a pretty well-known author right now and the stories literally give me chills – even though it’s a business book! He’s done a great job of using these chemicals – whether it’s intentional or not.

    However it seems like it would be really tedious to consider marketing and writing in this context and to be really conscious of the chemical effects our writing is having. What are some of the ways we could evaluate our effectiveness at inducing these reactions, without always framing it scientifically?

    • Hi Jessica,

      that’s a great question, I’m sure the writer of the book is either aware of the chemicals or he’s just amazing at interacting with people 🙂

      As far as working them into marketing, I think it’s good to just be aware of how we can induce reactions. Then, as you are writing and thinking about how to craft a message, you can work in the kinds of offers that can’t be refused.

  2. This is a great article. I will be forwarding and printing. Oxytocin gets me every time. Most places that I shop at is not only because of price and quality but mainly their friendly staff and wonderful customer service. Reminds me of the sitcom Cheers jingle. “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came”

    • Thanks so much Sherine, I appreciate the compliments 🙂

      I completely agree about Oxytocin, I go to one sandwich shop every week because they know me by name and I always feel welcome.

      I think the struggle is translating that kind of interaction online, it’s difficult to have the same connection sitting behind a keyboard.

  3. Josh,

    FYI, you spelled Simon Sinek’s name incorrectly, which kind of undermines your argument. You should try reading his book some time.

    If you believe positioning the Toyota and Chevy brands as performance cars worked because their commercials supposedly triggered endorphin release in viewers, I’d love to see the sales figures to back up that assertion. Toyota owns reliability, and they’re in the process of throwing it away with the flawed notion anybody who cares about performance would buy one of their cars.

    The idea for this article is not bad, but for me, your research needs a bit more work.

    • Hi Jon,

      First, thank you for taking the time to read my article, I appreciate it.

      Spelling the name wrong, while not great, does not mean my argument is undermined. I have read Sinek’s book as well as seen his TED and independent talks.

      Toyota is built on reliability, but they are also built on the principle of constant improvement (Kaizen in Japanese) and one of their areas to improve in is with younger markets which are more worried about performance.

      Obviously they aren’t going to share sales figures, but simply the increase in impressions (millions of views per video) indicates an increase in brand awareness.

      • Thanks for the reply Josh.

        Toyota spent billions of dollars and 40 years of hard work building a brand around reliability, and now they’re undermining their biggest asset. But that’s just an observation, not the point of your article.

        I don’t mean to be negative. Your post was good enough to get noticed and commented on. My remarks were meant to be constructive.

        Cheers, Jon

        • Hey Jon,

          I do agree about Toyota, I worked there for a little while and there’s definitely something strange in the air, I don’t know why they’re shying away from reliability.

          Thanks for taking the time to comment, I interpreted your comments incorrectly.

  4. This is a great article! I know quite a bit about how our feelings create chemicals but, I have never seem them explained in this context. I can relate personally to how I react to different triggers. Will pay more attention.

  5. Interesting take on things, Josh! I’ve never really thought about offers from a chemical perspective. It’s interesting how dopamine is such a double-edged sword; it’s awesome to use when you’re offering something to buy, but you have to watch out to make sure you don’t become the person who’s constantly checking their email for a little dopamine hit.

  6. I have known to make my readers feel like, “Hey, I’ve got your back,” and to use color as a source of some comfort for them.

    all the rest of this was new to me and I cannot wait to implement it! Thanks so very much!

  7. I disagree strongly that “the web has made it difficult to use oxytocin.” Rather, it is better than all the media that came before it (with perhaps the exception of calling people on the telephone). You can use people’s names, you can shape the content to them, you can ask for, receive, and respond to their input. As the TV show Cheers said “a place where everyone knows your name.”

    I am amazed that only Firepole seems to use this simple tactic of dropping my name in the middle of the email message. It is a trivial programming trick, yet guaranteed (at the moment at least), to set you apart from almost all of your competition.

    Rollie Cole, PhD, JD
    Founder, Fertile Ground for Startups, Small Firms, and Nonprofits
    “Think Small to Grow Big”

    • Hi Rollie,

      I think I was trying to get at the fact that you can’t have the same kind of “dance” in conversation online that you can have in person. A lot of conversation is not actually what we say, but how we say it and our body language.

      Those things are not possible to replicate online, which makes it difficult to use oxytocin.

      You are right, however, that mentioning people by name can get a quick hit of oxytocin and is a tactic that should be more widespread.

  8. Pingback: 4 Chemicals Your Customers Can’t Refuse | Marketing | Veronica Kirchoff - Business Coaching - Marketing Strategy - Work/Life Balance - Training & Education
  9. Very inspirational stuff Josh, I only hope it doesn’t require a degree in biology to induce those chemical reactions to take place just to be a good marketer?

    I’m hoping just producing useful content, writing great copy and But writing great copy and creating riveting videos should do it, Right?

    But of course, with the caveat that everything is engaging, entertaining but more important, on topic for your given niche.

    Great work Josh, keep up the good work – I’ll be back.

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