You are already thinking about money. No I’m not a mind reader, but I’m a thought implanter. I’ve deliberately started you thinking that this article is about money. Two things have achieved that – the word cash in the headline and the picture of dollar bills.
Psychologically, this is called “priming”. You can put people in the right frame of mind for doing things by using priming techniques. Often, it’s not as blatant and obvious as what I have done here. For instance in some recent research on priming, students were given some biscuits to eat. When the room in which they ate the biscuits contained a citrus smell, of the kind used in household cleaning fluids, the students cleared up their crumbs. When no smell was present, the did not tidy up. This experiment suggests that we can be primed for activity by smell alone.
Other psychological studies of priming have shown that images, sounds and words can provide a subconscious signal to behavioural change. So how can you use this in your Internet business?
Firstly, think about the actions you want your readers to take. For instance, if your product you are selling makes them feel more relaxed, have images of relaxed people, rather than your product. If you want them to share your blog in places like Digg or in other social network, using words in your headlines and text that evoke a sense of sharing, such as “friendly” or “support”.
Advertisers often using priming techniques – cars are generally filmed in exotic or exciting locations. The images give you a sense of a greater drama than is possible with photographing a car stuck in a motorway jam – the most likely place you’ll be in it when you buy it! That greater positive feeling helps the car company sell to you as you are already primed to want the car.
Online you can use images and video clips to prime your audience to make it more likely they’ll do what you would want them to do. However, this new research suggests priming also comes in other ways. So don’t neglect the words you use – particularly if they can evoke a sense of smell. Picture are powerful, but the Internet is largely a word-based medium; so get those priming words right and your web site will succeed.