Marketing, Dopamine and Opioids OH MY!
23 Jan 2017

Marketing, Dopamine and Opioids OH MY!

Humans are curious by nature. Don’t you just love a great mystery? That curiosity we have is great thing because it is exactly what helps to advance our world in so many different ways. Seriously, where would be be if Thomas Edison wasn’t curious? In the dark!!! And no one likes to be there, so let’s shine some light on how you can tap into curiosity to create a positive impact on your marketing. There is actually a science to it, and behind it.

Let’s talk about the science behind it first…and start to stimulate your curiosity!

When we get curious, our brains release dopamine. The dopamine stimulates the reward centres in the brain, so being curious feels good. That’s why we like to learn new things. Dopamine also helps us to become more motivated and pay attention to what is making us curious, which means the memory of the stimulus will be more elaborately encoded into the brain because of our focus upon it. You can read more about it in Brain Rules, by John Medina.

Now here’s another cool part of this cycle. When our curiosity is met with a solution or resolution, we get an opioid release in the brain, which feels even better! And then the loop gets closed until we get curious again.

This is exactly why video games do so well at keeping the focus of teenaged brains (and many an adult too) when they might lack focus in other areas of their life. Video games stimulate and complete the cycle with great regularity. The player is presented a new level to conquer. In order to do it, there is a puzzle to solve. Dopamine is released into the brain and now the player has the concentration and reflexes of a ninja, along with the motivation to stick with it! The level is reached, and opioids are released. YES! The video game celebrates with the player, and then he or she advances to the next level and the cycle starts again! It’s no wonder people can play for hours on end.

A puzzle or a mystery is a sure-fire way to stimulate that curiosity response. The best movie trailers do it so well! Check out this one for 10 Cloverfield Lane. It tells you next to nothing about the content of the movie, but by the time you get to the end of it, your curiosity is stimulated. What is out there??

Our brains want to know and hate leaving things unfinished. We want the opioid release that comes with the solution.That’s why we’ll go to that movie. It satisfies our curiosity when we get to see what actually happens. The marketers for the movie industry have it going on. And so do the writers of your favourite series’. Those cliffhangers have us tuning in the following week, or binge watching as much as we can possibly handle. We absolutely have to know what comes next.

Use that to your advantage and consider how you can use mystery in your marketing. According to Ben Parr in Captivology there are 4 steps to creating mystery:

  1. Build a feeling of suspense
  2. Get emotional buy in
  3. Create a plot twist
  4. Leave them with a cliffhanger

Now if you’re not quite sure that creating mystery will work for your particular business, you can also stimulate curiosity by doing something:

  • Unusual/novel
  • Unpredictable
  • Disruptive
  • Distinctive
  • Imaginative

Or you can create a dopamine release when you stimulate a person’s emotions. It is in our best interest in our society to pay attention to someone’s emotional state. Our well being can depend upon it, so the dopamine release biologically makes a lot of sense.

That’s also why advertising that makes you laugh, feel angry, outraged or even cry (don’t even get me started on the Special Olympics commercials…pass me a tissue!) get your attention, and you are more likely to remember them later too.

So you see, there is a science behind your marketing efforts, and when you get the formula right you get to reap the rewards!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *