A basic understanding of the latest developments in neuroscience can take your financial marketing results from mediocre to magnifico. Recent research which reveals how the human brain processes information and how we settle on a purchase is a game-changer. 

Over the course of millions of years, our brains have been programmed and reprogrammed with one goal in mind: survival. This is why, when faced with a difficult choice, we tend to take the path of least resistance to save energy. It’s the same reason our brains activate the flight-or-fight response when we feel threatened.

Of course, cognitive programming isn’t all about life and death situations. Here are some tips on how to use the latest developments in neuroscience to your advantage in financial marketing.

  1. Harness mental shortcuts

We are all faced with an enormous array of choices every single day — from what to have for breakfast and what shoes to put on, to what route to take on our way home. All this mental toil gets exhausting, which is why most of us make use of mental shortcuts to conserve energy and act efficiently.

Leveraging such mental shortcuts can drastically increase response rates to your marketing communication. One great example of an effective marketing shortcut is a client testimonial. Readers respond overwhelmingly positively to this kind of content as it allows them to lean on the decisions made by a trusted person. This is especially important in financial marketing because our industry is still tainted with a bad image. Testimonials provide irrefutable proof that the service is good, so be brave and ask clients for testimonials that you can use on the home page of your website.

  1. Use power words in your headlines

 Three words, in particular, have been proven to increase the response to marketing communication:

  • The word NEW elicits an involuntary positive response as we all tend to value things that are scarce. Make a point of referring to anything that is new in your business, be it new technology, new processes or newly-qualified staff.
  • We are all essentially egotistic by nature and the word YOU reminds us of ourselves. So instead of saying ‘We are highly-qualified advisers’, say ‘You’ll be served by highly-qualified advisers.’
  • Because our brains are intrinsically attracted to things that require minimal effort, the word FREE has an enormous psychological impact. You must have a good reason to give something away, though, as using the word ‘free’ recklessly can undermine your service. Making your first consultation free, for example, is a good way of snaring new clients.
  1. Embrace emotion

 Emotions are essential to effective financial marketing…Far more so than fancy graphs and stellar investment returns, if we’re honest. When you present your brand with feeling, you appeal to the subconscious mind of your customer; the place where 90% of all decisions are made. Just think of Allan Gray’s TV advertising: by tapping into human truths, it connects with audiences on a deeply emotional level (while also demonstrating sound investment principles, of course).

  1. Show don’t tell

 People respond far more strongly to images than they do to words. Sight is one of the first senses that we develop as babies and even in adulthood, human beings process images an amazing 60 thousand times faster than text! If this doesn’t convince you to pepper your marketing content with attractive visuals, then nothing will…

Colour is also a powerful tool in your branding decisions. Neuroscience has shown blue and grey to be the best hues for conveying professionalism. But we can’t all have blue and grey logos, can we? Introducing a secondary ‘happy colour’ is a good way of differentiating from your competitors. It’s no coincidence that the tick in the Ernst and Young logo is bright yellow, the colour of sunshine…

  1. Let the dopamine flow

 The most successful marketing campaigns are those that stimulate the production of dopamine – the chemical released during pleasurable situations. This is why humour has proved to be far more successful in insurance adverts than themes of fear or loss.

Familiarity also gets dopamine going, which is why your brand should be consistent across all media. Your aim should be to produce content that feels familiar in terms of font, images, graphics, and colours. If you haven’t already done so, get yourself a brand manual.

 In recent years, gamification has shown itself to be a fantastic way of sending dopamine levels through the roof, thus presenting digital marketers with a whole new set of tools. Savvy gamification can assist in a veritable smorgasbord of marketing objectives, including raising awareness, teaching new behaviours and driving brand loyalty. Discovery has now very successfully incorporated a ‘Play the Game’ function into their website which allows users to convert points earned into rewards. Playing the game creates an element of suspense…with the safety net of knowing that you will win something!

Science has proved that targeted neurological stimulation can help marketers to achieve their goals. Hopefully, this newsletter will inspire you to use emotions to wake up your readers’ brains, to pepper your prose with power words, and even to dabble in a spot of (simple) gamification. And if you ever feel your neuroscience pantry’s getting a bit bare, FinCommunications would love to help you to cook up a financial marketing storm.