Your customer’s 3 brains and how to sell to them

Spock2 Your customers 3 brains and how to sell to themYou don’t have a brain. You have 3 …

Spock’s constant frustration over the Star Trek crew’s inability to act logically, is because logical thinking happens in our 3rd brain.

Someone needs to sit Spock down and break the bad news gently, because it’s apparently our illogical 1st and 2nd brains where the decision-making power resides.

Understanding our 3 brains and how they control our buying decisions can have a major impact on how well your website persuades your visitors to do what you want them to.

Whether you want your customers to make a purchase, phone you, complete an enquiry form or sign up to your database, appealing to all 3 brains can make all the difference.

To discover why these 10 techniques are so effective, first we need to find out about the 3 brains and what makes each tick.

By the way, coming soon will be part 2 of this article, The 10 powerful ways to sell to your customer (watch this space!).

The somewhat controversial 3 brain theory was first proposed by Paul D. MacLean.

MacLean, the former director of the Laboratory of the Brain and Behavior at the United States National Institute of Mental Health, developed a model of the brain based on its evolutionary development.

In his model, the brain is actually broken down into 3 separate brains.

Each brain has varying functions which define our thoughts and actions. Each brain is geared toward separate functions, but all three layers interact.

“I just didn’t think!”

Can you recall a time where you experienced such a strong reaction that you did or said something totally ‘out of character’ for you? You can probably blame your 1st or 2nd brain for that one.

In MacLean’s model, the brain consists of the R-complex (1st brain), the limbic system (2nd brain) and the neocortex (3rd brain).

The Snake Within (Your 1st Brain)

The R-complex is also called your ‘old brain’ or 1st brain, as it looks after your most basic need: survival (yes, that includes survival of the species as well).

Your first brain is very physically oriented. Movement, digestion, circulation, breathing and your ‘fight or flight’ response all call your 1st brain home. 1st brain behaviours are very resistant to change.

The R in R-complex stands for reptilian, as the 1st brain’s structure is similar to the brain of a reptile.

Are You a Cat or a Dog Person? (Your 2nd Brain)

The limbic system sits between the 1st brain and the 3rd brain, which is why it’s also called your middle or 2nd brain. The limbic system is also seen in more complex animals such as dogs, cats and horses.

Where your 1st brain is physically focused, your 2nd brain lives in a more emotional world. If lust lives in your old brain, love would hang out in your middle brain.

This part of your brain helps you connect emotionally with the world around you, rather than responding in a purely fight or flight way to everything.

Psychologists tell us your 1st and 2nd brain are pretty much illogical and that, most of the time, you’re unaware of them. They are part of what we call our subconscious.

Your 2nd brain also stores longterm memories. It links emotions with behaviour and keeps tabs on your 1st brains need for responding from ritual habit alone.

Heart Versus Head

Have you ever been given the advice to ‘follow your heart’?

Following your heart, or your gut instinct, is thought to mean you’re relying on the powerful instincts of your 1st and 2nd brain, instead of the more logical 3rd brain, your neocortex.

Where Spock Lives (Your 3rd Brain)

Your neocortex is arguably the most complex part of your brain and sits outside and around your 1st and 2nd brain. This is your logical brain. It is concerned with communication through language, creativity, self-knowledge and self-awareness, and insight into the feelings and thoughts of others.

5/6ths of your brain is made up of this sensible 3rd brain. It allows us to think logically and operationally, to ‘see ahead’ and plan for the future.

It seems logical then to think our 3rd brain is where decisions are made, but here’s why us mere humans get on Spock’s nerves.

In fact, your 1st and 2nd brain are thought to be vastly more powerful. Your subconcious is responsible for a lot more of your decisions than you realise!

Neuro-scientists have estimated that our senses receive around 11 million pieces of information every second, yet our conscious brain only processes around 40 pieces of information. The rest is being assessed by our subconscious automatically.

Your 3rd brain can even fool you, working backwards to rationalise the decision you’ve already made with your 1st and 2nd brain, making you feel like you made a logical decision.

A study by Berlin scientists found that subconscious brain activity actually predicts – up to 7 seconds ahead of time – the final conscious decision a person will make.

The Catch

The problem is, many websites appeal only to their customer’s logical 3rd brain.

Now that you’ve gained an insight into the needs and overriding control of the 1st and 2nd brain, come back again soon and discover part 2 of this article: The 10 powerful ways to sell to your customer using 3 brain theory.

In the mean time, take a peek at the 4 types of customers your copy needs to talk to here and find out which one you are.

Copyright Anna Gervai, Orchid Web Design, February 2010

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