Marketing Triggers

Recently enroute to a business meeting, a rather peppy song played on the car radio prompting a colleague and I to sing along. 

As the song faded my colleague told me that while her young daughter used to love that song, she now cringes when she hears it and begs her to change the station.

Apparently her daughter recently spent time with an aunt and had accompanied her to a fitness class. While the class of women did their aerobic dancing to that same song, she sat at the back of the room and watched.

Turns out, it might have been a bit of a mistake because now whenever she hears that song all she can picture in her mind is a whole bunch of middle-aged jiggly bums.

The marketing experts would describe her response to that song as the reaction to a “trigger”.

Triggers are another idea that marketers are working on as one more way of driving messages into our heads. As if there isn’t enough data cluttering up our brains already!

It’s really not a new technique and is something we’ve likely all tried at some point in our lives.

My grandmother used to put her watch on the wrong hand to trigger something she needed to remember. My mother still puts her ring on a different finger or an elastic band on her wrist to jog her memory.

The experts say it’s a much more reliable way of remembering because the environmental trigger will do the remembering for you.

Growing up, jingles often served as a trigger. To this day, the Cracker Jacks song remains embedded in my brain as does the Koolaid jingle. However, jingles and slogans aren’t as effective because only the advertisement or seeing the product itself “triggers” the message. It would be far more effective if the trigger were something one sees or hears more often in their daily environment.

While you will likely see more marketing that uses the trigger technique in the near future to sell more products, I can’t help but think that it also has endless possibilities for making the world a better place.

If we think about an idea we want to convey and then hook it to something that already exists in the environment we can make that idea travel in a very significant way.

For instance, I recently read about an anti-nuclear testing group that placed signs around the walk buttons on street corners. As a pedestrian points their finger toward the push button, they see a sign that reads “the world could end this easily”. The intent is of course to make people flinch and then hopefully think about nuclear testing as they cross the street as well as every time they reach to change a light in the future.

Now if only I could get chocolate to trigger thoughts of evil and all apples to say “good life, good life” I’d be all set!



Posted on 10-02-07

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