Appeal to the subconscious when crafting your messages

Leading scientists who focus on brain activity say 95 percent of all thoughts, emotions and learning happen before we are aware of them. Author Roger Dooley says that unfortunately, most marketing efforts bypass the immense subconscious and instead target the rational conscious mind.

Dooley claims that if you want to promote your cause more effectively, it’s time to stop focusing on just five percent of your donor’s brain. Brainfluence is Roger Dooley’s homage to the value of applying brain and behavior research to better understand the decision patterns of those you seek to influence. The book contains key strategies—100 to be exact—to target your constituency through face-to-face, online, print and other marketing channels.

What is neuromarketing?

Dooley argues that smarter marketing is grounded in neuromarketing. But what is it? Neuromarketing, broadly defined, recognizes the value of brain and behavioral research and employing that research to improve our marketing choices.

Dooley discusses all marketing mediums in his book but we’ve chosen to feature face-to-face marketing in this article since many of you find yourselves cultivating individuals on a regular basis.

Face-to-face neuromarketing strategies

The brain was designed to process human interactions. To maximize these interactions for marketing, do the following:

Build rapport, even on social media, before selling or bargaining.

Use a handshake or touch to build trust.

Speak into the client’s right ear whenever possible. Research shows the right ear is the preferred side to process spoken information.

Smile because it produces unconscious positive emotions.

Demonstrate confidence.

Ask for a small favor first before your big sale or ask, e.g., a tiny trial order, advice, small donation or short survey. People are more likely to respond to the larger request if they’ve agreed to the smaller one first.

Hire articulate people with higher verbal skills because they not only can communicate well, but often they can also predict what a client is thinking.

Use ethical flattery that is honest and specific to the person.

Seat your prospects in a soft chair to model flexibility and serve them warm beverages to model warmth and build trust.

What to avoid whey applying neuromarketing strategies

We also asked Dooley where most of us fail when trying to apply neuromarketing strategies.

Dooley: Marketers tend to focus on facts and figures, features and benefits, and other logical appeals that are intended to persuade the donor or customer to act. Appealing to non-conscious motivators should be part of the process from start to finish.

Using brain-oriented strategies is particularly important for nonprofit marketers. Usually, we buy products because we need them. We don’t have tangible benefits when we make a donation or volunteer our time. If product marketing is half psychology, nonprofit marketing is 100 percent psychology. It’s essential to identify and use the right triggers to get donors and volunteers on board.

Our subconscious is 8 seconds faster

Since 2005, Brainfluence author Roger Dooley has been writing a blog about neuromarketing, exploring many ways marketers can use different aspects of brain science to improve results.

One example that demonstrates the power of our subconscious is based on a study Dooley shares in the book. It shows how subjects who were given a puzzle to solve “actually solved it as much as eight seconds before they were consciously aware of having solved it.” From this study and much of the research Dooley cites, we can gather the vast majority of our behaviors are determined subconsciously.

If neuromarketing techniques are used properly, Dooley claims we can produce better products and services for people. He has selected 100 topics that are applicable to a wide range of budgets and situations. According to Dooley, though some of the ideas in the book come from costly research using fMRI machines (machines that measure brain activity) or other technology unavailable to most firms, each topic provides a marketing approach that is usable by any organization—often at a low cost.

See also:

Content Marketing for Nonprofits



Image credits:,



Leave a reply

Welcome! Please provide your log-in information below.
Forget your password?
Enter your email or user name and your log-in information will be sent to the email on file.