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Customer priming

Imagine, friends had invited you to play “Trivial Pursuit”. Five minutes before you start, the host asks one half of the group to imagine being a professor while playing. The other half is supposed to imagine to be hooligans. What do you think would happen?

Two Dutch psychologists who have carried out this exact experiment with students came to an astonishing conclusion. The group that assumed the role of professors answered 55.6 percent of the questions correctly. The ‘hooligans’ only got 42.6 percent of the questions right, even though they were neither less intelligent nor did they have to answer more difficult questions. That’s a striking difference. Priming works – not consciously, but unconsciously. Is this true for customers as well?

I just want to take a moment to mention that priming is not brainwashing but rather about steering someone in the right direction and preparing him for something. Priming can not make anyone rob a bank or run around naked on 5th Avenue. Nevertheless, the effects are anything but trivial. Priming should be used to attract and retain customers. I clearly recommend positive priming, because customers in a good mood buy differently. You don’t have to pressure or convince them by offering them the lowest price. Incidentally, this applies online as well as offline.

Three of many ways priming can be used:

  1. Go through your customer process and find out at which points priming is possible. Ask yourself where and how you can “positively charge” your customers.
  2. What is your corporate language? I don’t mean German or English. Is your communication consistently focused on the customer and does it convey brand values in a positive context?
  3. When it comes to personal customer contact, priming is an exciting element. Dissect your consultation into thin slices and see where priming is possible. You will be amazed at how many options arise.

A simple coffee break probably is not enough to use the power of priming for the whole company. You have to make some time for it and get various smart minds of your company involved.

All the best!

Ralph Hubacher

The best tool is the right method

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