Influence PEOPLE: The Book – Mental Shortcuts

As I’ve transitioned from corporate America to Influence PEOPLE much of my time has been spent finishing a book I started years ago. Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical should be available online by the end of June. To start building anticipation I will share some excerpts in the months leading up to its publication.

Mental Shortcuts

“This year, the average consumer will see or hear one million marketing messages – that’s almost 3,000 per day”
William C. Taylor, co-founder Fast Company Magazine

In his article titled “Permission Marketing” which appeared in the magazine Fast Company, William C. Taylor wrote, “This year, the average consumer will see or hear one million marketing messages – that is almost 3,000 per day.” Wow! Did you realize you are bombarded with nearly 3,000 marketing messages per day? Here’s a scary thought – Taylor’s quote is from 1998! With the explosion of the Internet and particularly social media, this estimate is as high as 5,000 per day now!

Can anyone realistically process this many marketing messages each day? Of course not! That’s part of the reason Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology: Truth and Lies about Why We Buy, contends “85% of what you do every day is non-conscious.” Some scientists, like Leonard Mlodinow, author of Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, put the number at 95%. Let’s split the difference and say nine out of every 10 decisions and/or actions the average person undertakes are not consciously thought out in some rational fashion. While that might seem troublesome on the surface it’s actually beneficial because it helps us keep our sanity. Many choices we make don’t require lots of effort, which leaves more time and energy for the more important decisions and actions we undertake.

Consider your daily commute to work. If you’re like most people you go through very complex steps to make that commute. Driving a car is no easy task and neither is successfully negotiating traffic with other people driving at high speeds and yet you do it every day with very little thought. You make it to work most days without remembering too much about the drive because you were on autopilot in a very real sense. And so it is with most things we do each day.

This same phenomenon occurs with our thought processes. We don’t analyze every ad, decision or request that comes our way. Sometimes we give deep thought to those things but quite often we don’t because of a lack of time, energy and desire. To maintain our sanity and successfully make it through the day we rely on mental shortcuts. Think of these influence principles as time tested mental shortcuts that help people make quick, satisfactory decisions in the information overloaded society we find ourselves.

Bottom line: we need mental shortcuts to deal with the complexity of life and the principles of influence explain many of the mental shortcuts people use.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker and trainer, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses, Persuasive Selling and Persuasive Coaching have been viewed by more than 60,000 people! His latest course, Creating a Coaching Culture, will be online in the second quarter. Have you watched them yet? Click a link to see what you’ve been missing.

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