I had breakfast with a good friend this weekend and he’s starting up a new business.  I can’t say what he’s doing, because it’s kind of a secret for now.  Luckily, he’s not competing with a new web design company.  Basically, he’s found that there’s something that tons of people want to get rid of and he’s able to recycle it and turn it into something that’s very lucrative.  Let’s just say, for instance, that he’s wanting to recycle old 10-speed bikes.  That’s not it, but let’s just pretend.  Now that he’s thinking about this business concept, he’s noticing 10-speeds everywhere.   While we were driving to breakfast, he probably pointed out fifty 10-speed bicycles.  There’s one leaning against that fence.  There’s one locked to that old post.  Most of them were just abandoned.

So why am I telling you this?  Because it was fascinating to see him picking up on something that he’d never noticed before.  He was like a heat-seeking, bicycle-finding missile.  His senses where attuned to them.  Frankly, I’ve never really noticed them everywhere either.   This phenomenon is called the reticular activation system.  It happens naturally.  Your wife tells you she’s pregnant and suddenly, you start noticing baby strollers and pregnant women everywhere.  You start watching Pampers commercials and it seems like babies are ubiquitous.  They’ve always been there.  The commercials aren’t new.  You suddenly have a heightened awareness for them.

This is incredibly important to utilize in your marketing.  If you’re missing out on the fact that some eyeballs are looking for your product, while others are seemingly skimming over your product, never even seeing it, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

So how can you harness the power of the reticular activation system?  By making sure that your product showcases the cues that will trigger your prospects’ reticular activation system.  Take the baby commercials for instance.  If the commercial starts off with a baby in the first 2 seconds of the commercial, the soon-to-be parents will pause, stop their conversation and watch the whole commercial.  If, on the other hand, the commercial leads with some fuzzy bunnies and a few puppies, those same people won’t be grabbed.  By the time the baby enters the commercial in the 25th second of the commercial, the potential customers may only watch the last 5 seconds.  Puppy lovers and bunny farmers may stop and pause for the first 25 seconds, but the real target market may not watch the whole thing.  So the lesson here is…lead with visual clues that will disrupt your target market early on in your presentation or you may miss out on 75% of your opportunity.  Hope that helps.

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