Marketing a business is more than one message, one time.  Marketing is the sum of all the messages you send, and any one message probably has multiple messages within it.  What this means is that your marketing is best approached as a long-term, strategic plan that piles one message upon another until your audience is so comfortable with you that they are ready to buy.  Psychologically, one of the tools that you have for layering messages is priming.

Priming uses linked ideas to prepare your audience for the message you really want them to see.

In everyday life, there are many things that you associate together in your mind.  When you think of grass, you might think of the color green.  When you think of fire, you might think of heat.  When you think of a zoo, you might think of animals.  Each of these examples shows two different things, and yet there is a connection between them that has been built from many years of environmental and cultural conditioning.

Priming uses linked ideas to prepare your audience for the message you really want them to see. Click To Tweet

In the improv comedy world (I do a lot of improv!), these associations are key.  Most warm-ups, games, and scenes involve taking someone else’s idea and building on it with the next thing that jumps into your mind.  Very often patterns develop because the improvisers have shared associations even though they have never talked about those links.

As a business owner, you can use these links in your marketing through a method called priming.  By honing in on one half of the association, you are setting up your audience to take more notice of the other half of the association.

Let’s say you are selling mittens.  You know that people wear mittens when they are cold.  So the next step is to think of things that will remind your audience of being cold.  Maybe you show them images of snow or ice.  Your commercial might show someone shivering.  You might use blue as a prominent color.  You could also repeat keywords like “freezing” or “cold” throughout your content.  The more ways you can layer this message of being cold, the more attractive your mittens will become as a solution.

Priming can be used to guide your audience from one part of your message to the next.  It can be used to soften the sell.  But also priming can be used to prepare your audience for your call to action.  This way they will spend more time focusing on the call to action once they get there.

Priming can be used to prepare your audience for your call to action. #marketing #smallbiz #smb Click To Tweet

You might use priming within one message by layering visuals, keywords, sounds, or other triggers.  However, you can also think about priming when you are planning longer campaigns to prepare your audience to see each following message.

So, as you think about the marketing you want to do for your business, ask yourself – for each message you want to highlight, for each thing you want to sell – what the connections are.  You can reverse engineer these links to get your audience’s brains primed for you!  The more layers of messaging you add to your marketing, the more rich your marketing will be, and the easier it will be to hold attention where you want it!

If you want to learn more, you might be interested in this four-blog series on How to Attract the Right Customers. Check out part one here!