How to Harness the Power of Neuroscience to Help Your Audience Feel Seen

We all want to be seen.

We all want to be heard.

As humans, it’s in our DNA.

It’s something I try to remember each time I write for any audience. And something I encourage you to leverage when you write your content or copy.

On the other side of that screen, or picking up that piece of paper or book, is a person. A person with feelings and thoughts; needs and wants; hopes and dreams.

Speak to that person.

It’s through the words you use to communicate, that your audience will feel seen and heard by you.

Perhaps even understood. And when they are, they’re more likely to respond positively to your message and follow through on your call to action.

So, how can you better understand your audience and craft a message that tells your audience “Hey, I see you”?

By harnessing the power of neuroscience.

What is neuroscience?

Neuroscience is the study of the development, structure and function of the human brain and nervous system. It’s multidisciplinary and spans across the fields of biology, psychology and medicine.

Did you know that humans have approximately one hundred billion neurons (brain cells), each with a thousand-ish connections to other cells? Neuroscience seeks to map out these brain circuits that process all thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

When it comes to understanding your audience, neuroscience provides useful insights. It helps us understand the brain and its impact on how people think. With new technology, neuroscientists can even use machine learning techniques to examine signal patterns in the brain and predict decision-making.

Incredible (but also a little scary)!

Neuroscience and copywriting

I recently dipped my toe in the intriguing world of neuroscience, learning (at a very high level) about how people think and how it influences decision making and behaviour.

The more I learn, the more I realise that neuroscience is crucial to effective copywriting. And though this knowledge may not be consciously applied, it’s always at play if you want to deliver a message with high impact.

Emotion-led decision making

We humans tend to think of ourselves as rational beings. We’d like to think that most of our decision making – especially the important decisions – are made based on sound reasoning. Before we purchase an item, engage a service or make an investment, we weigh up the pros and cons and compare the benefits versus the costs.

We’re taught that logic is the best approach to making good decisions. And so, we apply it in our everyday decision making, right?

Well, it turns out we’re more emotionally driven than we think.

According to neuroscientists (who use brain scanners to record brain activity as people make decisions – fascinating stuff), in the decision-making journey, we process information without even realising what we’re doing.

In fact, Harvard Business School professor, Gerald Zaltman, says that 95% of our purchasing decisions occur in our subconscious mind.

So, you can be browsing a website for those new sneakers you want to buy and think you’ve based your purchase decision on the ratings, features, and price alone. Meanwhile, your brain is also taking in the super-charged website copy tapping into your emotions, the colour of the sneaker which just happens to be your favourite colour, and the emotional associations you have with the brand.

You believe that reason dominated your purchasing decision, but the true winner was emotion.

According to Professor Zaltman, what people say they want to buy often contradicts their actual buying behaviour. This inconsistency between stated preferences and actual purchases is because most of the decisions we make are emotional. We can’t help it, we’re emotional beings!

What can we learn from this?

Biases always come into play when your audience is responding to your call to action. So when you’re writing copy, don’t just include facts and figures – appeal to your audience’s emotional state, too. Ask yourself, “what do I want my audience to think and feel when they read this?”

How your audience thinks

Now, the question is – how do you tap into your audience’s emotional state?

It starts with understanding how they think.

So, when you’re developing your target audience personas, go beyond the demographics and how they look on paper. Delve further into their personality, behaviours and values. Ask questions like:

  • What do they value most?
  • What do they value least?
  • What drives them?
  • What inspires them?
  • What repels them?
  • Are they a risk taker or risk-averse?
  • Are they spontaneous and impulsive or measured and intentional?
  • Are they liberal, conservative or somewhere in between?

The more you understand your audience – how they think and make decisions – the better you can emotionally connect with your audience.  That connection not only helps them feel like you see them for who they are and what they desire; it creates loyalty. A positive emotional connection with your content will have them wanting more.

As I said before, it’s the emotional associations that either attract people to or repel them from certain brands.

Do the work to be the brand your audience is automatically attracted to.

Want more practical strategies on how you can apply neuroscience knowledge and principles when writing copy for greater impact? Check out my Master Your Message coaching services.

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