There’s a great phrase that Italians use – “Piano, piano.” While its origins are probably in music, it’s more commonly used by Italian families, because it translates to “softly, softly” or “slowly, slowly”. The phrase can be used to settle excited children down; remind us to enjoy the moment; or simply prompt us to be careful in the task we’re about to undertake – which is why it’s useful in a business sense.
If you’ve been exposed to the concept of behavioural economics, you will have no doubt encountered the name Daniel Kahneman.
Daniel is a renowned Psychologist, but managed to win a Nobel Prize in Economics. He’s also won a string of other awards and accolades. But it’s his work on our two modes of thought, so eloquently encapsulated in his book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, that has captured the attention and imagination of many of us. Several authors of business books and behavioural change experts have also taken his work and run with it.
Daniel refers to our System 1 (fast) and System 2 (slow, deliberate) modes of thinking. Others call it subconscious versus conscious, or automatic versus deliberate. Regardless of what you call the processes, the takeout is that there’s a time and a place to use both. But when it comes to forward thinking in business or marketing planning, the slow road is the best way to get you on the route to success.
When we’re operating on autopilot (fast or system 1), we react quickly, without necessarily exploring all the options. That’s great when see an object coming straight at you, because you’ll take immediate action to avoid being hit. All without thinking (seemingly). But autopilot is not the thought process we should deploy when we’re planning. The result is that we simply do what we’ve always done, or perhaps implement knee-jerk reactions. Sadly, it happens all too often.
(Check out our ‘Starting with a blank page’ post to see why there’s a better way.)
So when we enter a planning project with our clients, we like to remind them to ‘piano, piano’, to activate the slower, deliberate mode of thinking allowing it to do what it does best.
Of course time is something none of us has enough of. But don’t confuse engaging the ‘slow brain’ system with a slow a slow road to success. It’ll get the results you want quicker in the long run. Why? Because if you use your slow, deliberate thinking brain, you’ll develop more effective strategies, that will ironically, be very appealing to the autopilot brain of whoever your message is aimed at.
According to Gerald Zaltman of Harvard Business School, 95% of our thoughts, emotions and learning occur subconsciously. So if you spend the time working out what matters most to your audience. They’ll use conscious thought to justify their decision to ‘buy your message’ later, but rest assured, their subconscious did all the hard work. In other words, we buy emotionally and justify rationally, so why just market to 5% of their brain?
Perhaps Roger Dooley captured it best in his book neuromarketing book Brainfluence, when he said:
“We provide statistics, feature lists, cost/benefit analyses, and so on, while ignoring the vast emotional and nonverbal subconscious share of brain activity.”
Using your slow thinking to appeal to your customer’s fast thinking.
- Pain points – diagnose the areas of pain and show how you can alleviate it.
- Customer focus – it’s all about them not your product or service. What are customers really buying – sometimes it’s very different to what the company thinks it is selling. As one of the forefathers of marketing said “People don’t want a quarter inch drill bit, they want a quarter inch hole.”
- Anchor your offering with a frame of reference – customers need to know what you do that they can’t do now or that your competitors don’t. If you don’t give them a frame of reference, they have nothing by which to judge your value
- Use visual metaphors – they’re easy for the subconscious/autopilot brain to translate. Just make sure they’re relevant, universal and unambiguous.
- An emotional connection – can you describe how your product or service makes people feel? Is there even a connection? Can we turn indifference or reasonably positive feelings about your brand into unconditional devotion?
Or as Michael Harris, author of Insight Selling suggests:
“If you want to influence how a customer feels about your product, provide an experience that creates the desired emotion. One of the best ways for a customer to experience your complex product is by sharing a vivid customer story. Research has shown that stories can activate the region of the brain that processes sights, sounds, tastes, and movement. Contrast this approach to a salesperson delivering a data dump in the form of an 85-slide power point presentation.”