Priming- The basic Psychological Hacks For Digital Marketers

While most of the world is moving towards digital marketing, I see marketers and brand owners pay lot of attention on techniques and things to do of social marketing. It is also important to have the psychological understanding to deliver a good a copy and drawing strategies. Today, i want to point out the most basic of these psychologies that you can apply in your marketing :

Have a Break ? Kitkat have primed us with breaks


During Football world cups or other big events, you will notice that many brands design a specific campaigns to relate with their target audience. They hire sportsperson , actors and other celebrities wirh a catchy slogan, jingles or an anthem that make you relate with the brand and the event. Brands like Pepsi, Nike, Budwiser have done it year on year with a great success. In these campaigns the brands is trying to use Priming your natural excitement of these events by associating the brands with the events.

Buudwiser Twitter Campaign

Understanding Priming

Priming is the sub-conscious reaction to association of one familiar memory with an object, brand, music or words. It is an action of activating something particular while doing something. Drinking beer while watching sport, adding ketchup on your fries, buying coke with your burger- these are all primed on us through various marketing campaigns.

Burger and Coke always go hand in hand. You are more likely to order coke when you order burger in a restaurant

Priming and Advertisement

Priming is most notable in the two stages-

  1. Attention : Advertisers use current affairs, trends and emotional edges in their ads to prime attention of their audience. We have noticed brands using women empowerment to sell nutrition products and Casanova men image to advertise underwear and deodorants. with these messages, brands found easier attention of their audience and helped associating deodorants with dates or Mountain Dew to adventures.
Axe have brilliantly primed teenagers in to believing it can help then get girls.. well

2. Persuasion: I can still recall a very old Maggi Ketchup advertisement in India where we see Javed Jaffrey adding Ketchup on the top of his samosa and enjoying it. The impact of this prime was huge. For a chutney obsessed country, Ketchup found a backdoors in household with samosa and became huge. Priming helps to increase the persuasion in the use of brand and associating it in the same behavior of consumption . Click sound of a Pepsi can, breaking kitkat in the right way, pouring whiskey on a glass in certain way – they all are primed through marketing.

Maggi Ketchup persuaded Indians to try it with their popular snack Samosa.

Priming and Digital Marketing

A good digital strategy cannot ignore priming. Here are some of my suggestions for using priming in your copies :

  1. Show the product in Actual Use : By showing your product in actual use ( people drinking soda, taking selfie from the phone, frying something in cooking oil ads ) you can prime customers in to associating the brand with the usage.
Mobile increased their desirability by showing celebrities taking selfies

2. ING- tense in slogans to show continuity or process : “I am Lovin’ It”, ” Delivering Happiness” , “Caring for you and your loved onces since 1951” – these kind of slogans prime towards continuity and more likely to be trusted by first time users.

Mcdonald’s “I’m lovin it” slogan helped it become a popular brand among kids and they started associating it with eating out

3. Place the product or offer in the eye level : There is a reason why big brands pay a premium to super market to take up the shelf in the eye level. Similarly in your ad-copy place your offer or product in the center or eye level if possible to get the maximum attention. This is specially useful for the ads that are optimized for mobile viewing.

Apple ads in particular uses centers very well and get its message delivered

4. Show Action : Just like your ads have an action button ( click now, know more, book now) you can show the action to persuade user to take the decision. Just by showing a customer paying for the subscription in your ad or scrolling down the stream in your app in the ad, you can persuade users to take final action and subscribe your service.

Caution with Priming

Avoid Negative Priming : Just like positive prime, negative primes also attract attention but chances are that they can backfire. In the In-famous Pepsi commercial of Kendall Jenner where she imitates a protest scene backfired and Pepsi and the model had to release apologies. Similarly, after the earthquake in Nepal, a brand in India released a discount coupon called “Earthquake” which was labeled insensitive and the brand had to later apologize.

this infamous advert was later pulled off

Also, while collaborating with Influentials, it make sense to engage with positive message than negative regardless of the social following of the influential. Also, ads with negative tones are more likely to be rejected by Facebook and Instagram than the positive one.

Use Priming in your campaign

While writing your next campaign , do give attention to priming and how it can lead you to other physiology of marketing like “Anchor Effect” and “Halo Effect”.

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