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Framing your messages to nudge customers into buying mode

Nudge customers with framing

We live in a world in which we are continuously flooded by advertisement. Turn on the radio, look at Youtube, or take a stroll through town: marketing is everywhere. As a consumer, we are exposed to an overload of stimuli. And as a marketer, there is a lot of competition to take on. You need to stand out and persuade your potential customers.

This could be achieved by understanding the AIDA-model and using powerful and clear communication. That is why this week we will discuss a psychological effect that is all about persuasive communication called framing. Like priming, by using framing, small changes in your content could have a major impact. Get ready for some wordplay and learn how to optimise your content!

What is framing?

The most important thing to understand about framing is that it is perceptual. This means it’s not about what you say, but how you say it. In other words, you need to choose the right frame for your words and images. Compare this with choosing a frame for a picture you printed: when the frame doesn’t suit the picture, the overall look will not come together. When choosing the frame, it is important to know your target audience. In the end, you want to frame your content in such a way it will impact this audience. Dove is an example of a company that clearly chose their target audience: with their real women campaign, they wanted to deliver a message addressed to the average woman. They have commercial showing women of all shapes to emphasize the idea that women should embrace their body. Now, who’s your target?

If you haven’t found your target audience yet, we will give you some tips to determine it.

  • Determine the purpose of your product. What benefits will your customers get from buying it? How does it fill the needs of your customers?
  • What type of person will buy your product? Make a list of features like age, interests and gender. Do they browse online? These are important things to know.
  • Determine the expertise you deliver. Is this a very specific area, or do you target a broad group of people?
  • Who is your competition? This will help you determine why you are unique in what you do. Try to look for the gap or the service that is still missing.

Writing and creating content for a specific group is easier than writing for a wider audience. Also, you will address more people because they will feel more connected to your content.

Choose your words wisely

Now that you have determined your target audience, let’s see how to put your content in the right frame. We told you framing is all about what our eyes see, or in this case, read. Like priming, framing automatically trigger connections and words in our brain. Try it yourself: don’t think about a bear.

Did it work?

Probably not, because the word bear and associating words were automatically triggered in your brain. Choose words that you want to trigger in your consumer’s brain. When doing this, think about content that your customers are drawn to. These words will, in return, affect your customers’ emotion. If you master this, your content will contribute to a convincing message.

Let’s show you a simple example of how to frame words. Compare the next two sentences and guess which one will be more effective:

  1. This chocolate chip cookie only contains 20% sugar.
  2. This chocolate chip cookie only contains 6-gram sugar.

While the first sentence focusses on the amount of sugar in percentages, the second sentence highlights the amount of sugar in grams. As a result, you can show a lower number, thus making it more attractive. This doesn’t change anything about the cookies, they still contain 20% sugar, however. With this message, you can convince a consumer to buy the product. So, when consumers are in doubt, using the right words can nudge them into the buying mode.

The best thing about framing is that you can use it for all kinds of content. Even a small change, like with the cookie example, can affect how your customers perceive your product. Up next, we will focus on how to adjust your content by looking at your customer’s emotions.

We hate to lose

Emotion and feelings play a huge role in neuromarketing. They can drive consumer behavior. We try to place ourselves in the customer’s mind and figure out what their motivations are. There are two forms of framing:

  1. Gain-framing: the profit someone will gain by making a specific choice;
  2. Loss-framing: the loss someone will experience when making a choice.

Research shows that loss-framing is more powerful. We feel a lot sadder when losing an amount of money compared to the joy we feel when receiving the same amount. This emotion is so strong, that we are twice as motivated to prevent the loss compared to win. This means your customers’ brain will strongly react to (the fear of) a loss. How can you combine this fact with framing?

  1. Use the right language that triggers corresponding emotions; think about your target audience and the words they are susceptible too. Example: if you own a travel agency, use positive and appealing words. Going on a holiday makes you happy, so your goal is to trigger these positive emotions!
  2. Use a form of loss in your content; tell your customer what they will miss if they don’t use your product. Example: if you own a webshop that sells chocolate, offer a limited edition bar for just one week. This will trigger loss-aversion, meaning your customers are more likely to try the limited edition chocolate as long as it is available.

We hope you have a better understanding of how forming the right sentences and choosing the right words can have a big impact on your marketing content. Framing is, like priming, a method where a small change can have a big effect. It is important to think about your target audience and their emotions.

If you want to learn more about behavioral insights, read our blog or watch 100+ videos on our YouTube channel!

About Neurofied

Neurofied is a behavioral science company specialized in training, consulting, and change management. We help organizations drive evidence-based and human-centric change with insights and interventions from behavioral psychology and neuroscience. Consider us your behavioral business partner who helps you build behavioral change capabilities internally.

Since 2018, we have trained thousands of professionals and worked with over 100 management, HR, growth, and innovation teams of organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, Deloitte, Novo Nordisk, ABN AMRO, and the Dutch government. We are also frequent speakers at universities and conferences.

Our mission is to democratize the value of behavioral science for teams and organizations. If you see any opportunities to collaborate, please contact us here.


Milou Odekerken

A passion for writing combined with fascination for the brain to give you the best neuromarketing content!