Don’t Overlook the Impact of Human Psychology on the Success of Your Promotional Campaigns

I’m a firm believer that advertising is simply applied psychology using print, television, radio or any other media platform the advertiser so chooses. Given that, it stands to reason that the more valid your psychology, the better the response will be to your advertising message.

Yes, it’s just that simple – and that difficult.

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In fact, advertising today can be mighty tricky, for three major reasons. First of all, we have a multi-cultural marketplace. Diversified cultural and ethnic groups must be advertised to with messages that appeal specifically to them. Unfortunately, not many laundromat owners actually do that. The “one-size-fits-all” advertising philosophy is totally invalid – and can become quite costly – these days.

The second factor that can make advertising challenging is the fact that the marketplace consists of multi-generational groups. Each generation thinks differently. They don’t behave alike, buy alike, or respond to your advertising messages in the same way.

And, lastly, the third reason advertising in today’s marketplace often can prove arduous is found in the burgeoning field of neuroscience, which has made great headway in determining how people react to advertising information. Neuroscience has uncovered the brain chemicals – or neurotransmitters – that are directly involved in intellectually and emotionally processing and acting upon incoming information, including your business’ advertising messages.

In essence, it’s the psychological science that justifies the statement that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to marketing in today’s marketplace.

In the language of psychology, stimuli produce responses. In other words, when a member of your total target audience receives an advertising message (the stimulus), he or she responds (or not) based upon how the stimulus was “filtered” by what are referred to as “intervening variables” in that person’s psychological makeup.

Intervening variables are different for different cultural, ethnic and generational groups, as well as varying based on the different brain chemistries of all of the individuals within all of these specific groups.

Sound complicated? It’s really not. It’s actually rather logical.

Stay with me here, because what I’m about to share with you is absolutely essential for the development of successful advertising that you can – and definitely should – put into practice immediately. By doing so, you will produce more productive, cost-effective and business-building advertising than you’ve ever experienced.

With regard to different cultural and ethnic groups, along with the various generational groups, the United States is now more diversified than ever before in its history.

Each cultural, ethnic and generational segment views the world uniquely with its own set of intervening variables. This includes:

How they view your vend prices.
The value they place on the cleanliness of your laundromat.
How they react to your chosen hours of operation.
How they accept the sizes and quantities of washers and dryers you offer.
How they perceive your loyalty programs.
How they respond to the specific medium and frequency in which your advertising message is delivered to them.

What we have here is the stimulus (the advertising message) filtered by many intervening variables depending upon the group and the response (becoming a customer or not), which is a function of the stimulus being filtered by these multiple intervening variables.

The logical conclusion is that the more you know about the target audience’s intervening variables and build them into your advertising message, the more control you have over the behavior of the recipients of your delivered messages.

If you control the intervening variables, you control the behavior of the owner of those variables, and that is exactly what advertising is all about – controlling the behavior of potential customers. Nothing more and nothing less.

With that said, here’s the formula to follow when designing your advertising:

A + FIV = R (Advertising Filtered by Intervening Variables Equal Results)

Therefore, your mission is to thoroughly understand the mindset and values of your diversified customer population, and when developing your advertising copy, discretely build these values into your messages. If you don’t, your advertising will not be nearly as impactful as it can be.

Let’s go back now to neuroscience and its effect on the outcome of your advertising. Once again, neuroscience is simply the study of the brain and how it works.

Recent research has proven that there are, in essence, two brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) in all humans – and these are what determine mood and positive attraction to incoming stimuli, such as advertising messages. Those who create infomercials, for example, are well aware of these neurotransmitters and design their television spots accordingly.

For our purposes, the two most important neurotransmitters of the many that exist are dopamine and serotonin. The more of these chemicals that are secreted by the brain when receiving a stimulus (your advertising message), the better for putting that brain’s owner in a receptive, happy, peaceful and accepting mood.

Increasing the response of these neurotransmitters depends on how pleasant your message is. A very simple way to accomplish this is by using a lot of yellow and blue in your advertising. These two colors have consistently proven to be highly effective in positive mood creation. In fact, the next time you watch a national television commercial notice how much yellow and blue is utilized, and pay attention to your own reaction to that ad message.

As a result, now let’s slightly modify our formula a bit to include all that we have just discussed – and then you, my laundry owner friends, will be good to go:


This would be verbally expressed as: Filtered Intervening Variables Plus an Increase in Dopamine and Serotonin Levels Equal Exceptional Advertising Results.

Hopefully, I have made you more aware of the importance of intervening variables with regard to how advertising messages are received and, in turn, reacted to.

Simply put… intervening variables will always intervene.

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