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 Helpscout.net 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.