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 DISCOVER THE PSYCHOLOGY-BACKED TECHNIQUES EVERY BUSINESS WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW

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How to Nudge your Customers to a Quicker Sale


Heart shaped Flowers

How many of you bought flowers or went to a fancy restaurant, on 14th February? Did you do it because you wanted to be impulsive or were you being primed? Think about the adverts on the tv, or the love songs on the radio, and the extra rom-coms on Netflix?


The Priming Effect is based on the theory that when a person is exposed to a stimulus (words, images, sounds, smells), it will influence the person’s actions on a subconscious level.


The Priming Effect helps prep or ‘prime’ your audience and skilled Copywriters use words and phrases to prime readers to their content eventually nudging them towards a call to action.



Pizza and Pasta

Imagine you bump into a friend and they tell you all about their holiday to Italy. They show you their photos and describe how they went to this tiny little restaurant where they ate the most amazing pizza and carbonara with fresh pasta.

When you get home and are trying to decide what to have for dinner - what would you choose?

The science behind it:

Direct Attribute Priming

Direct attribute priming creates associations by heightening the importance of certain features to help keep them at the top of your audience's subconscious mind

Customers who entered an Apple store to buy a new phone were approached and asked a simple question.

Half of the customers were asked what their memory needs were, and the other half were asked what their processor needs were.

Researchers found that the group that was asked about memory bought phones with higher memory, while the group that was asked about processor speed bought phones with higher processor speeds with the customers putting more weight on those features after they were asked the question, and affecting their purchases when it came to a buying decision.


What you can do:

Use direct attribute priming to increase the importance of your product’s strengths. You can use a comparison to our competitors to highlight your specific higher value and to keep them at the top of your customer's minds.


Indirect Attribute Priming

Indirect attribute priming can be as simple as playing a type of music or using words or images to stir subconscious associations.


In 1999 a group of researchers conducted a field study in a UK supermarket to see if in-store music impacted the purchase of wine.


Over a 2-week period, French and German music was played on alternate days.

On the days' French music was played the sale of the French wines outsold the German wine. On average, 40 bottles of French wine were bought compared to just 12 bottles of German wine. And, when the German music was played, 22 bottles of German wine were bought, versus 8 bottles of French wine.


An interesting part of the study showed that 50% of the observed shoppers confirmed that the music had made them think of France or Germany, but when the participants were asked "Did the type of music playing influence your choice of wine?" only six said yes.



What you can do:


Focus on a specific goal and align your content to that desired outcome.

Cocal Cola Open the Happy Can

Priming with Pictures

Use images to prime your audience.

A study looking at the impact of subliminal facial expressions: happy, neutral, or angry, found that happier facial images can affect our behavior.


Coca-Cola grasped this idea in one of its marketing campaigns, “Open the happy can”. In the advertising, it shows the top of a can of coke with a “smile” in the gap post opening. Every time you now open a can, you get a big, wide grin smiling back at you.



Priming in your text.

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Copywriters use words and phrases to prime readers to the content long before they try and drive their call to action.

Use emotional and impactful words and phrases in your text to plant specific ideas and emotions. Match your reader's thoughts and narrative and guide them to take the next step or action.

Tell readers what to expect in your intros

Another aspect of priming that leads to better comprehension and recall of content is to introduce the purpose of your content and lead with a clear picture of what your reader can expect and the value they will get out of it.

You can use the introduction of the post or the subject line of an email. Doing this will give your audience a sense of direction about the content.

You can also prepare the reader for what you are going to say, by subtly mentioning your next point, before you actually talk about it, so they are already expecting it in the lead-in.


Priming with repetition

Repeat concepts together, and they will be prime for each other.


The more you repeat your key message, the more likely people will remember it and associate it with your brand. When we are repeatedly exposed to ads, they are priming our brains to recall the brand and product and make us more likely to think of the brand the next time we need a solution.


Repetition priming takes place when the repeated use of a stimulus is used to evoke a consistent response. Great campaigns find a way to say 1 thing in 100 ways.


Ikea wanted to position themselves as sleep experts & sell a behaviour instead of just products. They were able to get their customers to associate their brand with sleep by using Repetition Priming.



IKEA Sleep Awareness

They partnered with Dr Guy Meadows, co-founder of The Sleep School, and created ‘The IKEA Sleep Hub’ - an online resource with tips, advice, and questionnaires.


They trained all their staff as sleep ambassadors and created a series of in-store workshops and events, that focused on the individual and their sleeping habits.


In their social media channels, they posted the A to Zzzzzz of sleeping giving people 26 ways to get a better night's sleep and challenging people to "Win at Sleeping"

IKEA A to ZZZZ poster

In Australia, they created a Podcast that sent you to sleep by reading every product in Swedish. They've now turned their catalogue into a 4-hour playlist.


They also placed ads on Spotify and targeted the playlists parents used to help their babies get to sleep to stop noisy ads from waking the babies.



IKEA Sleep Ads

Building on their new position as sleep experts, IKEA promoted their products as an alternative to fad products and as sleep-inducing.


IKEA Sleep Association Products

They began to tie in other product lines, such as plants and air purifiers into their sleep philosophy.



Repetition Priming helps you become more memorable.


Get creative with your copy. Find ways to rephrase your USP, keywords, benefits, and features and help your audience get familiar with your message and business.




Priming is a complex psychological advantage in your messaging. If you do it early on in your customer's buying journey you'll find it easier to nudge them to a sale.


Buying Triggers



Bonus: Priming is how “mentalists” and “magicians” seemingly control an audience’s responses. For example, mentalist Derren Brown uses priming to illicit planned reactions from his audience.









Do you know someone who would love to get better at communicating and writing?


Invite your friends to sign up using the link or share directly on your social.





source North, A. C., Hargreaves, D. J., & McKendrick, J. (1999).



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