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Primal Marketing: How to tap into the primitive brains of your audience


Technology may have evolved but the basics of marketing remain the same. Here are five ways you can appeal to your audience’s basic instincts.

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Aim for the gut reaction

Gut reactions happen in 3 seconds or less, so you have that long to get someone scanning their inbox to want to open your email. Use email subject lines or advertisement straplines to get your point across at an emotional level by choosing words that create excitement, urgency or even low-grade anxiety. Headlines that include keywords like ideas, tricks and quick have 22% higher click-through rates according to research by Outbrain.

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Tell a story

One of the best ways you can create a positive connection is by telling a story. Humans have always loved stories and storytelling makes an emotional appeal which can in turn influence behaviour. Stories are what people remember. Even when they forget names and faces, they rarely forget the story and how it made them feel.

You can tell your own story or just as easily give others the tools to tell their story on your behalf. Think Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign which encouraged consumers to share stories of friendship, or invest in experiential marketing to encourage your audience to share their “wow” moments.

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Paint a picture with visuals

Humans are hardwired to be visual creatures, with images being processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than information received in text form. We remember pictures with text more than text alone and the primitive brain is especially drawn to images of danger, sex and food.

Email subject lines that promise video content have click-through rates 27% higher than average, according to a 2014 report by Outbrain. Meanwhile, Google reports an 800% increase in searches for the term ‘infographic’ over the last two years, with the hashtag #infographic also being used 342,000 times per month on average.

Choose the right colour

Colour is intrinsic to decision making, with brand colours helping to cultivate sentiment. According to Satyendra Singh of the University of Winnipeg, Canada, 62-90% of a consumer’s feeling about a product is determined by colour alone.

Yellow activates anxiety, meaning it’s useful for motivating the consumer to take action; blue builds trust so is commonly uses for banks and legal institutions; red meanwhile stimulates the fight or flight response and focuses attention.

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Appeal to emotions

Natural selection favoured humans who were able to quickly identify threats and build relationships. We’re all able to do that today by simply reading facial expressions. Images of faces touch the brain’s emotional receptors and build trust, so using images of people in your marketing efforts grabs attention.

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