Spaced repetition is the basis of most advertising and how that same psychological effect is the basis for most successful goal-setting programs. This week I intend to answer the next obvious question: what exactly does repeated messaging do to the mind that would ultimately cause an increase in sales from advertising or increase the likelihood that you would reach the goals you set for yourself in your goal-setting routine.
Put simply, repetition creates an unconscious focus in the human mind and subtly yet very powerfully alters your perception. If you repeatedly hear or see the same commercial over time your mind begins to associate the advertised product or service with the message being delivered in the advertisement. This causes you to begin to notice things and see things in a different way. For example, it is nearly impossible to see a picture of a Clydesdale horse without thinking of a certain alcoholic beverage. It is also difficult to see a box of tissues without thinking the word Kleenex, or a mechanical bunny without thinking of a certain battery. The list of these associations in most people runs into the hundreds.
These associations are direct result of spaced repetition and are almost always completely unconscious in nature. You have no awareness at the conscious level that you are being programmed to recognize the symbols. As I mentioned in my last post, the real conditioning is taking place after you have heard the message so many times you are no longer paying attention to it. Yet, if you find yourself in a store staring at a shelf where there are six similar products all competing for your attention, you may very well notice one of them because of the commercial messages you’ve heard. If that happens, the likelihood of you impulsively reaching out and choosing that product over the competition goes up by a factor of 10. At that moment in time you are consciously looking at a product but subconsciously thinking about the commercial messages you saw or heard. And that is true focus. That is the focus that advertisers will pay millions to generate. Focusing 100% of your attention on something, even for a fraction of a second, is one of the big keys in getting people to act because we tend to be so impulsive in our behavior. How many products have you impulsively purchased that you neither wanted nor needed because you were influenced by an advertisement?
That inherent tendency for humans to be impulsive can increase the sales of products or services but can also be used as a tool to help you be more productive. Acting on impulse directly influences your business behavior on a daily basis. If you can learn to direct that very narrow band of perception where you want it, it can help you increase your performance dramatically. In many cases, whether you achieve your business goals or not has a lot to do with how you “perceive” or “see” certain situations.
When you start your business day, is your first thought to accomplish your list of daily goals, or to think of what you have planned after work? When you look down at your desk, is the impulse to get to work, or to get a cup of coffee? When you think of your next appointment, is the impulse to be excited because of the opportunity, or do you dread it?
The initial thoughts that come into your mind are almost always a reflection of what is happening at the subconscious level. And that brings us full circle back to how focused you are on your goals. Quite simply, the more focused you are on targets and goals, the more likely your impulses will be to generate activity in that direction. With little or no focus on goals, your behavior will be undirected and often erratic. I would call this the ‘Unguided Missile” effect. Unfocussed individuals without daily goals or a plan often waste a large part of their working day trying to think of what to do next. The challenge for most people has been to find a technique or procedure for programming themselves that they feel comfortable with, and is easy and brief enough that they can fit it into their busy schedules.
There is no single best technique for creating focus in your subconscious mind. In fact, there are quite a variety of different ways in which this can be accomplished and you should experiment until you find the ones that work best for you and fit your particular mental makeup. Suggestion, emotion, regression, and confusion are all pathways into your subconscious. I have mentioned that the most common way to channel your attention is by repeatedly writing your goals down.