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Marketing Case Study Part 4 by Adrian Ulsh

by | Adrian Ulsh, Business Coaching Fundamentals

Over my last several issues, I’ve been backing up a very bold statement I made.

I said that everything you’ve ever learned about generating leads and growing your coaching practice is wrong. Everything you’ve ever heard, everything you’ve ever tried, and everything you’ve ever done — it’s all wrong.

In this multi-part series, I want to teach you a system for marketing your coaching, to a point where it becomes instantly obvious to your prospects that they would be an idiot to receive coaching from anyone other than you, at any time, anywhere or at any price.

In my last article, I gave you several ways you can easily and quickly evaluate your own marketing to see if you’re getting caught up in the “jargon trap.” I also taught you the Conversion Equation of Interrupt, Engage, Educate and Offer. Follow that equation, and you will transform your client’s marketing forever. They will literally dominate their market.

At the end of that article, we discussed that if you want to know why Jane Doe buys what Jane Doe buys, you’ve got to see the world through Jane Doe’s eyes, right? Well, I would submit to you that if you want to know what Jane Doe sees, you’d better first understand how Jane Doe’s brain works, how it processes information, and makes decisions.

Three major concepts

To understand this process, there are three major concepts that I need to teach you. Three concepts that no one else in the world of marketing understands, but three concepts that will make all the difference in the world in your marketing’s effectiveness and, more importantly, in your company’s profitability.

The three things you need to know about Jane Doe’s brain are downtime, uptime, and the reticular activation system, also known as the reticular activator. Let me go in-depth on these three and give you a thorough and complete understanding of how they work.


Let’s begin by discussing that first concept called downtime. Simply put, this is the hypnotic state of running automatic patterns that allows your brain to perform habitual tasks without any conscious thought. You do this all the time. For instance, have you ever driven to work and when you got there, you don’t remember making the trip? That’s downtime.

This occurs because driving to work is a habitual pattern that you run so frequently that you don’t have to consciously think about it. Have you ever stepped out of the shower and couldn’t remember if you shampooed your hair or not? Your brain performs all of these daily routine functions with no conscious thought.

Now, here’s what downtime means in marketing terms: People see and hear ads with their eyes and ears, but they don’t notice them on a conscious level. If you open a newspaper, you’ll be looking at maybe 70% ads and only 30% bonafide news articles; but because the ads are only seen on a downtime level, 9.9 times out of 10, you won’t consciously notice them at all. All you consciously see is the news, which is what you were there for in the first place.


The second concept is what’s known as uptime. This is the brain’s state of alertness or active engagement. It’s like when you’re driving on the freeway in a heavy thunderstorm, your hands firmly gripped on the wheel at the ten and two o’clock positions, and your pupils are as big as saucers. You’re sensitive and responsive to everything around you. You’re in uptime when you’re watching a horror movie, and you hear the music building to a crescendo in anticipation of something scary happening! You can think of uptime as your brain going on alert mode. But here’s what uptime means when it comes to your marketing. When your prospect is in uptime mode, they consciously notice your ad or marketing piece, and they’re open to your suggestions and solutions. Something captures their attention and compels them to keep paying attention.

The key to marketing is to get your prospect out of downtime and into uptime. We want to shake them out of their natural subconscious haze, where they never see your ad or marketing piece, and into uptime, where they are fully conscious and aware of what you’re trying to communicate to them. Once you understand how to do this, you’ll have the ability to make a fortune with your marketing.

Reticular activator

But to completely grasp this model, you’ve got to learn the third major concept about how Jane Doe’s brain works, which is called the reticular activator. The reticular activator is the part of your brain that’s on the lookout 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even when you’re asleep. It constantly scans the environment looking for things that fall into any of these three categories: things that are familiar, things that are unusual, and things that are problematic.

When the brain detects any of these three categories on a subconscious level, it sends a message over to the conscious side of the brain and says, “Hey! Wake up! There’s something here you need to pay attention to.” And by the way, whatever those familiar, unusual, or problematic things are, we call them activators.

In short, your brain, on a subconscious level, is constantly on the lookout for activators. It’s searching for things that are familiar, things that are unusual, or things that are problematic. In other words, things that demand a conscious response. Whenever it finds one, it pokes your conscious brain and snaps it out of downtime sleep mode and into uptime alert mode. Let me give you an example of the raw power of your own reticular activator, and please don’t get mad at me for what I’m about to do to you.

But I’m going to permanently embed this example directly into your reticular activation system and I guarantee that you will remember this for the remainder of your life on this planet. Seriously.

Here we go

I’m certain that at some point over just the past several weeks you have glimpsed a FedEx truck making its deliveries. FedEx has been in business since June 18th, 1971. That’s a lot of years those trucks have been driving around town. So, let me ask you a question. How many times have you seen those FedEx trucks? Over the 40 plus years they have been in business, I would wager to say you have seen their trucks a minimum of 1,000 times. So, here’s question number two. Have you ever seen the hidden message within the FedEx logo?

Yes, that’s a serious question. Did you know that there is a hidden message within every FedEx logo? If you’re saying right now that’s impossible, you’ve seen that logo thousands of times and you certainly would have noticed a message in there at some point in time, then join the crowd. 99% of the population have never seen that hidden message. Ready for me to tell you where it is?

Next time you see a FedEx logo, look between the E and X in FedEx. You will see an arrow pointing to the right. It’s as plain as day, and yet very few people have ever detected it over all these years. And guess what, that logo was specifically designed that way from the start, it isn’t just something that happened by coincidence when the designer created it. Almost no one sees it. But guess what?

You will now see it, every single time you look at that logo. Why? Because now that I have drawn your attention to it, coupled with the fact you had no idea it was there before, the next time you see that arrow, your brain will perceive it to be unusual, and that automatically triggers your reticular activator. Remember, things that are familiar, unusual or problematic poke your brain and make it pay attention through your reticular activator.

But guess what is going to happen next?

Now that you know that arrow is there, Every time you see that FedEx logo, your brain will immediately seek out that arrow. And as you observe it over and over, the arrow will move from being unusual to being familiar. And in both of those cases, guess what else happens. You will only notice the arrow for a second or two because your brain activates when it sees it, moving you from downtime into uptime, but since the arrow isn’t really relevant or important to you, your brain quickly reverts to downtime.

So what does all this have to do with marketing then? The short answer is everything. Understanding what wakes people up so they pay attention is what’s going to get our marketing message past the “interrupt” stage and onto the “engage” stage. And when we engage your prospect, we’ve just increased our chances of selling to the people you’re trying to engage by one thousand percent!

This is going to solve the problem that every other marketer hasn’t been able to figure out, which is not just getting them interrupted but also getting them engaged, not just finding any old activator, but finding the right activator. Any idiot can simply interrupt people in fact, that’s actually very easy to do. The so-called marketing gurus over on Madison Avenue do it all the time. Those guys and gals prefer to use activators that are based on things that are familiar and unusual because they’re the easiest to pull off.

Have you ever noticed how many different kinds of animals you see in advertising? That’s because animals are familiar and likable, and the idea is that those animals will interrupt you by poking your conscious brain when they’re detected by your reticular activator. Aflac has the duck, Geico has the Gecko, and Coke has its polar bears. You constantly see dancing elephants, talking dogs, and finicky cats.

All of these animals have good interim value based on their familiarity. That’s also the major reason that big advertisers use celebrities: familiarity. And what about activators based on unusual things? Well, that’s what creativity is all about.


Creativity’s main purpose in advertising is to dream up something so weird, so strange, so shocking, so unusual that it’ll snap you out of downtime and into uptime, otherwise known as “interrupt.” But here’s the key, here’s what no one else seems to understand, and what just may be the most important thing you’ll learn in this presentation. Once the brain is activated, once it’s been broken out of downtime and into uptime alert mode, it wants to be engaged. So it immediately and subconsciously searches for additional, clarifying information.

The brain wants to know, “Hey! What’s this all about? How does this affect me? Do I need to do anything about this?” Literally on a subconscious level, the brain goes on a fact-finding mission. The bottom line is the brain wants to know, “How is this important and relevant to me? Should I allocate any conscious bandwidth to this?”

So it searches for additional facts. If it finds them, it’ll become engaged. If not, it will quickly revert back into downtime. We call these important, relevant issues “hot buttons.” And in my next column, I’ll explain in-depth how you as a business coach can use hot buttons to generate dramatic increases in your client’s leads and conversion rates.

 About Adrian Ulsh

Adrian Ulsh is the CEO for Leader Publishing Worldwide, the largest online provider of coaching services worldwide. Adrian currently works with more than 500 coaches in 24 countries advising them on building 6 and 7 figure coaching practices.

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