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Neuroscience in Marketing: How you can use Meta’s “brain control” trick


It’s almost a conspiracy.

Mark Zuckerberg is essentially using drugs to make hard-working entrepreneurs become addicted to paying for advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

I know this, because yesterday he tried it on me.

Fortunately, I have a background in biology and over the past year I’ve been studying neuroscience for my nearly-finished book.

Here’s how it works…

Math vs. Dopamine

There’s a simple trick that expert marketers have been using for a long time.

And not just marketers. Savvy politicians, the military, and even religious cults have turned this powerful tool to bend people to their will.

You can use this power for good. Or, at least, for good marketing results. Let me explain.

As you probably know, Meta gets their revenue when people pay to advertise on the platform. They want advertisers to spend more and more.

(You want your clients to do the same, right?)

Yesterday, Meta put this notification in my feed:

Instagram feed showing video success

Yes! High conversions compared to other ads in my country! Woo-hoo!

Now, you would think that online advertising is based on mathematical decisions. How much you pay per click, how many of those clicks convert, and your overall Return On Investment (ROI).

You can just look at the analytics and make a rational decision about how to spend your advertising budget, right?

But Meta isn’t going to wait for me to see how smart it is to run more ads. Not only do they make damn sure you’re aware that your ad is working, they do it in a way that feels like you won a contest.

It’s a small victory, but it turns out these small wins have a big impact on the human brain.

Every time you have a tiny success, your brain gets a shot of dopamine. This signals your brain that the thing which just happened makes you happy and is worthy of future attention.

You feel this dopamine when you make a successful free throw, close a sale, see new “likes” on your latest post, or finish a Sudoku.

Dopamine is the reason that gaming, sports, and even trading stocks can be so addictive.

Now, if you can give potential clients a micro-victory of their own, they’ll get a hit of dopamine, too. That’s how you can get them addicted to your products and services.

Of course, you should be contributing to their success in big ways. That’s what you signed up for. But these micro successes are fast, cheap, and easy to provide. It pays to add them to your repertoire.

Here are a few ways you can do this:

  • Point out small successes that make your client look smart
  • Give your readers a quick, one-question test which will make them feel good about themselves
  • Include polls, short quizzes, and games in your marketing.

Here’s an example:

A REALTOR sends a quiz to potential home buyers, asking, ‘“Why are you thinking about buying now?

A. Because the market is less competitive than it was a year ago

B. It makes sense to buy, based on the current circumstances around your life, work, and finances

Regardless of their answer, you can congratulate them on being savvy and knowing when it’s the right time to buy. This isn’t flattery. It’s truthful either way.

And it gives the buyers that important hit of dopamine that makes them want to listen to whatever else the REALTOR has to say.

There’s a ton of research available these days around the neuroscience behind persuasion and motivation. This trick of using small wins to trigger the release of dopamine has an even more powerful use.

I’ll tell you all about it in a couple weeks.



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