While studying business and psychology in college, I often wondered why the two subjects were so distant from one another. I would learn theories in my social psychology class that were nearly identical to the best practices I was learning in my marketing courses, but there was no link between human behavior and marketing. The two departments often used different phrases to describe the same thing.

Since graduating, I have been pleased to see that the two fields of study are being increasingly aligned with one another. Check out these three psychology principles, neuroscience findings, and human behavior insights that can take your marketing and communications efforts to the next level.

  1. Lead with Emotion, Follow Up with Logic

When it comes to making decisions, many assume that the process is fueled by rational thinking and logic. But, recent research shows decisions are often fueled by emotion, and then validated with logic.

What does this mean for marketers?

It means focusing your message, whether it’s about your nonprofit’s mission to help at-risk youth or your product’s environmental benefits, to appeal to the emotions of your audience. For example, if you’re championing a social injustice issue, consider invoking anger in your audience to motivate them to get involved. Or, if your newest product helps protect the environment, invoke hope in potential customers by showing them that they can be part of the solution to preserve the planet. Once you’ve successfully connected with their emotions, you can then use data, statistics, and other facts to prove your value and tap into the logical side of your audience’s brain.

  1. Storytelling Ignites the Brain

The most effective way to appeal to an audience’s emotions is through storytelling. Sharing stories actually causes the brain activity of speaker and audience to sync in a phenomenon known as neural coupling. In fact, the more the brains’ activity mirrors one another, the greater the understanding and connection between the two parties.

By using stories to communicate your organization’s mission or the features of your product, you’re able to tap into the emotions of the audience, thereby carving out a place for your brand or organization in their memory.

To further compound the impact of your stories, focus on telling the story of just one person instead of the masses. This technique has been shown to be more impactful due to the identifiable victim effect and can help you connect with your audience in an honest, genuine way.

  1. Framing is Critical

Framing allows communicators to control their message so it focuses on the positive rather than the negative. For example, if you’re purchasing ground beef at the supermarket to make a healthy meal, are you more likely to purchase the “20% fat” package, or the “80% lean” package? You would likely choose the latter version, showing how making calculated messaging decisions can have enormous impacts on you attracting and retaining your audience.

Messaging workshops are an effective outlet to frame your key messages and selling points.

It will help you identify the values of your audience and choose copy and phrases that speak to those values. And in times of crisis, it’s important to thoughtfully frame your messages to help respond in a way that will have a limited negative impact on your brand.

 Using these three best practices will help you craft effective marketing and communications strategies to reach new audiences and increase donor or customer loyalty. If you’re looking to learn even more, I recommend picking up Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely, Contagious by Jonah Berger, and The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others by Tali Sharot.