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Tricking the Mind to Buy


Ever wonder why salespersons and trade journals that target small business and franchise buyers like boiling decisions down to simple lists? It is because they are taking advantage of the tendency of the human brain to turn suspicious when faced with difficulty in a new situation. Making something easy to mentally process, like short lists, clean fonts, rhyme and repetition will trick the brain to opt in for the more familiar. That trick is particularly important in easing a wary business buyer who comes from a different industry.

One thing that fools us, for example, is font. When people read something in a difficult-to-read font, they unwittingly transfer that sense of difficulty onto the topic they’re reading about. Schwarz and his former student Hyunjin Song have found that when people read about an exercise regimen or a recipe in a less legible font, they tend to rate the exercise regimen more difficult and the recipe more complicated than if they read about them in a clearer font. - Boston Globe

Rhymes can help too.

Matthew McGlone, a psychologist at the University of Texas, has found that auditory cues can shape people’s perception of truth. McGlone did a study in which he presented subjects with a series of unfamiliar aphorisms either in rhyming or nonrhyming form: “Woes unite foes,” for example, versus “Woes unite enemies.” He found that people tended to see the rhyming ones as more accurate than the nonrhyming ones, despite the fact that, substantively, the two were identical. Phrases that are easier on the ear aren’t just catchy and easy to remember, McGlone argues, they also feel inherently truer. He calls it “the rhyme-as-reason effect.” – Boston Globe

Eating the familiar, like chocolate chip cookies offered during a Discovery Day in which buyers are invited to visit the franchisor’s head office to find out more about a franchise, also helps.

When faced with the unfamiliar, our minds disdain complexity. Forums that have a long list of postings on why not to buy a franchise can actually help the seller. That naturally pushes us to the simpler lists and shorter posts. In addition, buyers can feel that they’ve done their due diligence by exposing themselves to postings that try to dissuade.

An added bonus to sellers is when posters write remarks that are not only complex, but also emotionally charged so as to look like their judgment has been impaired or that can be perceived as an unfair attack on an individual as opposed to logical analysis of a business.

Sellers will want to avoid things that bump buyers into analyzing. That’s called disfluency. Using unfamiliar technical terms or even an unusual font can nudge a buyer’s mind out of the rut of “cognitive fluency” into disfluency. For example, legal terms and technical business concepts that are frequently found in Blue MauMau's articles prod buyers to be wary and to analyze. In contrast, by being able to read myriad postings that attack a leader of a franchise system, buyers may feel well-rounded and fulfilled in their research of a company, and actually become more receptive to buying that particular franchise.

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