Marketing in today’s environment has a lot of objectives, including Brand Awareness, Lead Generation, Communications, and P.R., just to name a few. But they can all in some way boil down to this: helping you stand out in a crowd and get noticed by potential clients or customers. This can be somewhat of a daunting task considering the vastness of the digital universe now and the amount of noise on the many marketing channels available to you and your marketing team. It is possibly even more difficult for the solopreneur or small business owner. These are people that are scaling their business while still trying to figure out how to effectively market that business at the same time.
Hopefully, I can simplify things just a little here by shining a light on your RAS — your Reticular Activator System.
I cannot remember where I first learned about the RAS, if it was a book I read, a workshop I went to, or just a friend telling me about it. I know over the years I have continued to learn more about it and harness its power for our sales and marketing efforts. Located in the brainstem, the RAS has a few different roles in the human body. However, since hormone control and sleep regulation aren’t going to help you get noticed by customers, let’s focus on the functions that are most useful to us as marketers.
Every moment of every day, there are thousands of data inputs hitting all of your senses at the same time. It is impossible for us to be consciously aware of all of them as they happen, so our brains developed a way for us to unconsciously register all the data and then communicate to our conscious mind when one of them needs our attention. In walks your RAS.
The RAS acts as a filter that is cued in on data inputs when they reach one or all three of the following criteria.
1: It's important to your survival.
That flash of a car out of the corner of your eye as it runs a red light, the audio on a commercial that catches your attention about a symptom of a disease, the movement in the bushes that you all of a sudden become aware of. Things that your brain thinks are important to your survival will trigger your RAS.
2: It has high emotional value.
Babies crying, babies laughing, humor, puppies and kittens. This is why those cat videos on TikTok have 65 million views. When your RAS registers something with high emotional value, it will direct your conscious attention to it.
When your RAS encounters something it has never seen before, it immediately stops. It’s the Freeze, Flight, or Fight scenario. Since your brain has never encountered it, it freezes, and in many cases will enlist the conscious mind to help decide if this is a threat or not.
So how does this relate to marketing? The RAS is what stops a user mid-scroll to actually pause and read a post that comes up in their feed on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, etc. Messaging, content, images, and videos should all be built around activating someone’s RAS. A good ad or post will incorporate one of the RAS criteria while a GREAT one will incorporate all three.
Need proof? Start paying attention to what it is that grabs your attention the next time you’re on your favorite social media channel, cruising Broadway on a Saturday, or even just walking through a store.
Does it relate to any of the three criteria? You bet your RAS it does!