FunImpactLifestyleMarketing 101, 201, & 301Network Marketing Success SeriesProfitSocial Marketing

Familiarity in Engagement and Buying Decisions


familiarity in decision making

What You’ll Learn:

  • What “Familiarity” in the mind of your prospect means
  • How to implement familiarity targeting in your content strategy
  • Lifestyle categories: Fun, Profit, Impact

Familiarity an Essential and Influential Variable in Engagement and Buying Decisions

Familiarity is one of the nine (9) influential variables that drive engagement and buying decisions.  It is the first of the variables you implement in your content and experiences.

Familiarity is one of the core elements of attraction.  People are attracted to that with which they are familiar.  In general, people will develop a “liking” for those things and people with whom they are familiar.  In psychology, this is known as the “mere exposure” effect.  Just the “mere” exposure to something or somebody new that has “familiar” features, characteristics, or traits, is enough to create engagement and preference.

Ever heard of Attraction Marketing?  Well, guess what – Familiarity is a key part of that!

But that kind of “familiarity” isn’t really the focus here.  In order to be effective at reaching the mind of your prospects, customers or clients, you need to resonate with that which is famliar in their mind.

This may sound a bit heady and psycho-babble-like, but it is a critically important idea to grasp.

Familiarity has two regimes:

  • The degree of familiarity your prospect, customer or client has in their mind with the content, and the perceived meaning, value, relevance, and importance of that content to them
  • The level of familiarity you have achieved with them and the degree of relevance they attach to that level

The most important of the two regimes is the first one.  The reason is because within the subconscious mind of your prospect there are multiple processes running in parallel.  Some of those processes are looking for “familiar” information.  It is just such information that correlates with the objectives of the subconscious mind and results in the “upload” of a thought that then becomes a relevant thought of conscious intent.

Familiarity Defined

“Familiarity,” in the context of the digital psychology of decision making, is the degree to which the mind correlates/associates external information with internal processes and assigns a degree of relevance to that information.

Once relevance has been established, the mind uploads a thought to drive engagement with the given information.

In other words, the message of your content resonates with a need in the mind of the customer, and that results in an action to engage with your content.

Two Types of Familiarity

There are essentially two types of familiarity you will be dealing with:

  1. The common type of familiarity where  the prospect, customer, or client becomes “familiar” with you
  2. The familiarity the prospect, customer, or client has with the content or experiences you are delivering to them

Both of these are important, but what is essential to understand as an online entrepreneur is that the second type leads to the first type.

The reality is that a new prospect doesn’t know you.  So the “attraction” factor of familiarity you are working with is focused on how familiar are they with the content you are delivering.  This is not to say that they have to know what you are talking about, no, not at all.  They have to be familiar with how your content resonates with their needs, wants, desires, fears, passions, etc.

When you can establish a presence in their lives with type “2” above, then type “1” follows naturally.

Enter the 6 Basic Human Needs

Here’s the deal: we are dealing with people, humans.  We all have basic needs, and the “6 Basic Human Needs” are real in our lives.  Not everyone has the same magnitude of needs, but all of these needs are present in our lives.  As an entrepreneur, your mission is to fulfill one or more of those needs in your own special way.

When creating content, and in particular creating familiarity, understanding which of the 6 Basic Human Needs are fulfilled by your product is critical.

To be clear about the definition of “product:” A product is your goods, services, or leadership.  Your content falls into one or all of those three categories.  While you may have a tangible product or a coaching service to sell, everything you do when producing content is in fact a “product.”  Your prospect is “buying” your product when they open your e-mail or click on your link.  So just keep this in mind.

The Two Gateways to the Mind of Your Customer

In the simplest sense, there are two gateways to the mind of your customer.

  1. Conscious Intent Gateway
  2. Subconscious Gateway

The familiarity variable exists in both gateways, but it is most prevalent and effective in the subconscious gateway.

Familiarity in the Conscious Intent Gateway

When the customer is on a mission to achieve a singular objective, it is the conscious intent gateway that is their focus.  Their “familiarity” focus is on that which is immediately relevant to whatever that singular objective is.  For example, it might be planning a dinner, looking for a specific kind of tire for their car, looking for a new pair of shoes, and so forth.  This is a mission that is on the top of their mind and is a conscious focus and effort.

Familiarity in this gateway is more or less restricted to information having to do with the focus at that moment in time.

If your content is associated with a health and wellness message, and they are focused on finding tires for their car, your degree of familiarity is pretty much near zero.

Familiarity in the Subconscious Gateway

The subconscious gateway is processing tens of thousands of thoughts in parallel.  Therefore the spectrum of information to which “familiarity” can be associated is broad.  The brain will make abstract associations with information it receives, processes that information, and determine the degree of familiarity in but a few milliseconds.  It is for this reason that the subconscious gateway is our primary focus.  Part of what is going on here is known as Confirmation Bias, an important concept to understand.  This is when your prospect has an existing belief that is reinforced by information they see: they tend to interpret certain information as confirming their belief bias, even if that information doesn’t actually do so.

Assuming you have clearly defined your target market Avatar, you can create content and experiences that target very specific items and degrees of familiarity.  That content will have a much higher probability of resonating with one or more of the many thoughts being processed at the subconscious level.

… And Then There is the Reticular Activation System in Your Brain

If there is one part of the human brain you, the entrepreneur, need to understand, it is the Reticular Activation System (RAS).  Why?  Because this network of neural pathways is one of the single most influential autonomous systems in the human brain.  It has another name as well: the Ascending Arousal System (AAS).  Sparing you the boring neuropathology and neuroscience, the RAS is important because it is the central processing and routing system for awareness.

Reticular Formation of the Brain. ref: neuroscientifically challenged

As a myriad of subconscious and unconscious information is processed on a continuous basis, the RAS opens up the subconscious gateway to upload thoughts to the conscious mind.  This is the reason you suddenly become “aware” of things that are relevant to a need, want, desire, fear, etc.  The RAS coordinates your thought priorities based on, among other things, the intensity of the thoughts directed at a given “thing.”  A “thing” can be virtually anything that is of significance, or perceived significance, to you.

There are Two Reticular Activation Systems to Consider: There’s and Yours

Familiarity is created and augmented by the RAS.  As such, the message and structure of your content can access the RAS of your prospect if the priorities in the RAS align with your content.  This is why getting your Avatar clearly defined is so important.  It’s part of your process of figuring out what is and isn’t working, and why.

The RAS is also incredibly important to you, the entrepreneur.  This is becasue your ability to identify useful, relevant, and valuable information is based on whether or not you are looking for it.  When you become aware of a need in the marketplace, your RAS goes to work finding relevant information to help you fulfill your mission.  Also important is when you focus on th eneeds of your prospect, the RAS will engage in seeking inforamation to help you amplify the value you deliver.

Familiarity Targeting

Your customer has a lot on their mind: dreams, desires, fears, worries, goals, …  The list goes on and on.

Assuming you have developed your avatar for your target market, you will have a list of items that your ideal customer will associate with.  These are the items that, in your judgment, are most likely to peak their interest and draw them to whatever it is you are offering.

The content, experience, offer, and information you deliver are ideally the “familiarity” variables that the prospect will resonate with.  Your content contains information that associates with the prospect’s needs, wants, desires, lifestyle, beliefs, values, and so on.  When they see content that aligns with their subconscious processes, that achieves familiarity and you gain access to their world.  This is how your target with familiarity.

 Implementing Familiarity Targeting in Your Content Strategyfamiliarity

There are three primary objectives in familiarity targeting:

  1. Get inside of their experience funnel
  2. Create brand familiarity
  3. Drive the prospect, customer, or client to a decision

The INFOGRAPHIC you see here articulates the steps of implementation of the Familiarity variable.  You can download the infographic by either clicking on it or CLICK HERE.

Step 1: Get Real Clear About Who You Want to Engage

You absolutely must have clarity as to who it is you want to engage.  The process of attaining clarity is called creating your AVATAR.  An Avatar is a detailed description of who your ideal prospect, customer or client is.  A good resource for defining your Avatar can be found HERE.

When defining your Avatar, make sure you have the 6 Basic Human Needs in front of you.  Ultimately, every human has these needs running in the subconscious programming.  Your objective is to understand all the various elements of their (the Avatar) lives in the context of the needs they have.  If you do this, then you’ll find it easier to structure and execute your content strategy.

Step 2: Develop Your Content Strategy

Your content should be a continuous flow of information that is familiar to your prospect.  Keep in mind the definition of “familiarity” we are working to.  The subconscious gateway is where the action is.

Very Important: Deliver a spectrum of content that addresses a number of relevant needs and areas of familiarity.  Don’t get into a monotone rut of talking about the same thing over and over again.  Too much familiarity with a given topic will create contempt and disengagement.   See Step 3.

Emotionally impactful and engaging content doesn’t have to knock them off their feet!  You simply need to appeal to the emotions that resonate with the needs, wants, desires, fears, aspirations, etc., of your target Avatar.

Your strategy should be very deliberate in targeting.  If you are to deliver the value and make the impact you seek, you’ve got to get the attention of the people who can benefit most from engagement with you!

Drip out the content in contiguous episodes.  Don’t overload their bandwidth.  Incremental value with embedded decisions will create a compounding effect.  That compound effect is essentially the increased familiarity and comfort with you and your content.  That leads to making it natural for them to make decisions in favor of engaging with you.  That’s called loyalty!

Step 3: Deliver Your Content Series

Your content series is a strategically planned flow of content.  Your objectives are to stay engaged, create brand familiarity, and ultimately drive your prospect to a decision that could change their lives.

Your content series must be very deliberate.  You have your Avatar defined (see Step 1), so now speak to them.

familiarityEach piece of content you deliver should address one area in the life of your Avatar with which they are familiar.  This could be a fear, a hope, a dream, a physical or mental need, and so forth.  Ideally, your Avatar is the persona you defined, so your message will be familiar, resonate, and create engagement.

Inject variety into your content.  To keep the engagement fresh and engaging, vary your content to address different areas of familiarity in their lives.  On occasion, inject a pleasant surprise of some sort that adds more value than your normal content or experience.  This approach speaks to the basic need of variety, so don’t neglect the opportunity to enhance your engagement by injecting variety into the mix.

Above all, though, stay relevant.  You don’t need to constantly harp on one topic to stay relevant.  “Relevance” relates to the degree of familiarity your prospect has with any of your topics: but, keep your content and experiences within a band of congruence.  In being consistent in this manner your will increase your familiarity and associated engagement and brand familiarity.

Step 4: Create Brand Familiarity

The natural consequence of delivering a well-designed content strategy is brand familiarity and awareness.  A brand is merely a personal that your prospects, customers or clients attach to you.

How do you know you have achieved brand familiarity?  There are different ways to do this, but the easiest is to create content that asks for an opt-in to get it.  For example, if you have a list of 1000 people on your health and wellness blog, and you offer a free book on a topic of health improvement on which you’ve provided content, check the ratio of opt-ins for that book to the number of people on your list and the average number of “opens” in your e-mail list.  This will give you an idea of how your brand is viewed.

Another way to measure brand awareness or familiarity is to do a survey.  This is more involved, but will likely yield clear data.

You can also reach out to them and ask for them to reply to your Facebook page, e-mail, Twitter, etc., with comments.  This is engaging and can yield insightful information.  It is not, however, necessarily going to give you a good idea of the magnitude of your brand familiarity.

It is also important not to push for the “big decision” too soon.  If you are trying to build a long-term relationship, ongoing relevant content and associated value is the best way to do that.

The accuracy of your Avatar and the effectiveness of your strategy and execution will determine the rate at which your market becomes “familiar” with you.  Don’t rush it, but don’t doddle around getting there, either.

Step 5: Create Decision Habit

Every action your prospect takes is based on a decision to take that action.  Whether it’s opening your e-mail, clicking on your link, or opting into your offer, it is a decision.

Their “decision” to take your advice, share your content, or buy your product is all part of creating a decision habit.

A decision habit is simply their predisposition to engage with you in whatever form you offer.  You create this habit through familiar and relevant content and experiences.

The more comfortable (familiar) they are with making a decision to engage with you, the easier it will be for them to make the big decision – whatever that happens to be for you.

Step 6: Reward Decisions

Rewarding a decision is a form of affirmation.  Affirmation is the 8th variable in the 9 Influential Variables series, but it is a step that is practiced from the beginning of your engagement with the prospect.

Whether you know for sure or not that they have made the decision you want, always reward the decision as if they did.  Compliment them on taking an action.  Reaffirm the value of the information they have received and how it’s helping them.

The reason is simple: If they made a decision, your reinforce the correctness of that decision.  If they didn’t make the decision, then they may well go back and see what they missed.  Regardless of the situation, reward them for the decision to stay engaged!

Video | Familiarity in Engagement and Buying Decisions

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Did you find this beneficial, valuable, or useful?  If so, please comment and share on Facebook and/or your favorite social media site!  And please leave a comment or question!  Thanks in advance!!

Remember: Don’t put probabilities on your possibilities.  Dream big, believe in yourself, take bold action, and achieve!

Hoping the best for and believing in you …



skype: drscranton


Twitter: @danascranton

Oh, and one more thing …

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