If you spend any amount of time learning about marketing, then you’ve probably been told that people buy based on emotion. And that means sellers are “selling you” with emotion. You don’t have to look very hard to see it.
Think about Black Friday ads, that trailer for the latest Netflix show, or opting to swing by your favorite drive-thru after a tough day – all are examples of how feelings impact choices.
While it’s no secret that our decisions are likely based on emotion, it’s quite likely that no one told you what that really means or even what emotion they’re talking about.
In a recent podcast, Michael Liebowitz shared about two different structures of our brain, how they drive our decisions – and how you can use this knowledge to grow your practice and improve your patient experience. Let’s recap.
The Critter Brain Versus the Human Brain
We’re all familiar with the phrase “fight or flight.” This describes a physiological reaction that happens in response to a threat or harmful event. It kept your ancestors from walking straight into a lions’ den, and this same response keeps us safe today. It taps into the portion of our brains that Michael Liebowitz calls the critter brain.
Much to the dismay of rational thought, the critter brain is all about survival. And when given the choice between logic-driven decision making and survival-based decision making, humans choose survival every time. As a result, survival-based decision making is behind most of our choices – whether we realize it or not.
It’s all about identifying what’s safe and what’s familiar. And there’s no changing it.
The critter brain affects all areas of life – including why your patients chose you as their healthcare practitioner. Here’s how it works:
Everything having to do with your practice communicates something to your patients. Whether it’s your logo, your website, how your office looks – all of this speaks directly to their critter brain. Since the critter brain associates things that are like them with feelings of being safe, a potential patient begins a silent but powerful conversation with themselves, analyzing whether this is true or not true about you:
“Are you like me, or are you not like me?”
A “yes” answer means they feel safe, and they’re open to seeing you. But a “no” means there’s something they perceive as being unlike them, therefore it must be unsafe. At that point, the chances of getting them into your office are declining rapidly.
So, how do you get them to say “yes”?
Why You Need to Appeal to Both
While the critter brain is certainly powerful, we need both the critter brain and the logical human brain in order to make sound decisions.
When it comes to deciding, the critter brain makes the choice pretty quickly – in about half a second. After that, the rational line of thinking, initiated by the human brain, starts to come on the scene. The human brain begins to justify the decision that the critter brain makes.
The critter brain is based on emotions while the human brain is more centered on logic and language. It’s the human brain that creates the story around the critter brain’s decision so that it makes sense. The human brain looks for evidence to validate the decision, and once enough evidence has been identified, the person can be comfortable acting on the critter brain’s initial decision.
Although that’s helpful to know, how can you use this in your practice? Great question! Whatever you do, it’s important to appeal to both the critter brain and human brain – the survival/sameness and the logic – in your practice and in your communications. Below are some specific ideas to get you started.
How to Appeal to the Critter Brain
The critter brain won’t be satisfied with lengthy explanations or logical arguments. It’s all about feeling safe or not safe. The critter brain is trying to find an identity match, someone it feels similar to and safe to be with.
When it comes to choosing a healthcare practitioner, patients have plenty of options. They examine the possibilities and will decide based on if they feel safe or not. You may have a long list of features and benefits for your products or services, which is great for the human brain. But without the emotional connection that tells them it’s safe to proceed, the critter brain will turn tail and run.
To prevent them from ducking out or not calling at all, look for ways you can give the critter brain what it needs to make the decision. To do this, try tapping into the core beliefs you have about what you do and what your practice represents. This information will feed the critter brain by making an emotional connection.
Here are a couple of questions to get you started.
- What’s your “why”? What are your core values as a person? Start with the words “I am…”
- What do you do? Use this template to get you started: “I help ____ do ____. I empower ____ so they can ______.”
- What’s important to you about that?
Know that there’s no wrong answer to the questions above. Your responses don’t have to be profound. They just need to be true.
Once you answer the above, search for ways you can integrate this information into your practice. Weave it into a variety of areas – your interior design, your logo, colors, website, emails or how you show up for a Facebook Live. Find a way to communicate your core beliefs to your customer very clearly. The critter brain is desperate to find someone with a matching belief, so make sure it knows yours without a doubt.
How to Appeal to the Human Brain
Once the critter brain makes its choice about what’s safe, the human brain provides the story to support the decision. This is where those features and benefits come into play. These are the characteristics of what you offer and how your patients’ lives will be better because of it.
Explain what sets your practice apart and what patients can expect when working with you. Highlight the experience they’ll have and how they’ll be delighted with the outcome. This should connect with the core beliefs that you outlined. That’ll help keep your messaging consistent and continue to reinforce the critter brain’s decision to trust you.
Bringing This to Life in Your Practice
Your practice is a reflection of you, your beliefs, and your values. Finding a way to articulate this is key to making a genuine connection with your patient, appealing to the survival part of their brain.
Ultimately, your patients want a healthcare practitioner who “gets them.” They want to know that what matters to them matters to you. Creating that connection helps them feel safe. And when they feel safe, they’ll start to trust you more.
But it shouldn’t stop there. Reinforce your message with your knowledge, training, and of course, what you do best. This provides the added assurance to your patient and reinforces their belief that you are a safe choice who understands them. This will speak deeply to both their critter brain and logical brain.
Take a look this week and examine how you’re appealing to each of these brain structures in your practice. If you find that one area is lacking, look for actionable ways to strengthen it. What you offer your patients is unique and wonderful, so make sure your communications reflect that.
If you’d like to learn more about these brain structures and how they relate to your practice, check out the full podcast with Michael Liebowitz!