“It becomes increasingly easy, as you get older, to drown in nostalgia.” – Ted Koppel

The word “nostalgia” is a Greek derivation of two root words: “nostos” that means to “return home” or “go back to one’s local land” and “algos” referring to “pain, suffering, or grief”.

MATTRIXX Tip: Nostalgia has been exploited by clever marketing and advertising professionals (as well as highly successful leaders) for as long as there has been a need to “Get What We Want Without Negotiating”.

Johannes Hofer first mentioned this condition in 1688. Today, we think of it as a desire to return to a former time in our life or to our home or homeland (homesickness).

Nostalgia is a very effective emotional urgency trigger of influence because it focuses on our inner feelings and emotions.

“People seek pleasure”, wrote Aristotle, “and they seek to avoid pain.”

We find pleasure in nostalgia because it allows us to mentally relive our past feelings of friendships, status, safety, security, freedom, or love.

Ironically, when people become nostalgic, they typically become happier. This allows us to increase sales conversion rates or more easily motivate and persuade others. For example, President Ronald Reagan was a master of applying nostalgia as an emotional trigger within his speeches, and his ability to move people to action was legendary.

Studies indicate that when people are asked to think back on experiences, objects, or songs from the past, their positive feelings increase. In some cases, nostalgia can also be bittersweet since our feelings of happiness can be mixed with feelings of sadness or loss.

However, in most cases, the net result is positive. In short, nostalgia simply makes people happy … and nostalgic people are more receptive to subliminal influence and persuasive presentation techniques.

MATTRIXX Tip: Many of the homes I sold as a New Home Sales Agent were due to the use of well-timed nostalgic phrases and comparisons. During showings or model demonstrations, I would use phrases such as “This neighborhood reminds me of …” or “I don’t know about you, but doesn’t this take you back to your childhood when …”. These comparisons were always factual, yet they were customized to create an emotional trigger based on the warmth of childhood memories.

Amazingly, people have a tendency to view the past as certain and safe. Even younger generations of people who have not lived through a specific time period are prone to becoming nostalgic about it.

This helps explain the popularity of television shows such as Antiques Roadshow, the craze in collecting Barbie Dolls, and the American auto maker’s retro versions of the Ford Mustang, the Chevy Camaro, and the Dodge Charger.

While scientific research is trying to understand the neurological causes of nostalgia, social psychology studies point to nostalgic emotional urgency triggers that may be utilized to create favorable attitudes about products and services.

As we age, we appear to become more receptive to the use of what researchers call “a longing for positive memories from the past.”

Using the trigger of nostalgia to associate positive feelings with your product or service also increases the effectiveness of other subliminal triggers including scarcity, association, reciprocity, and contrast.

MATTRIXX Tip: Time tends to smooth out and erase the bad while enhancing and magnifying the good. When developing an advertising campaign or a sales presentation, make sure the nostalgic emotional urgency triggers you plan to use fit the demographics of your target market while avoiding any real or perceived negative connotations.

For marketing professionals, the key is to find the right music and images that have a way of relating to their specific products or services. For leaders and sales professionals, past memories provide the context for nostalgic feelings, and you can use them to guide people’s decision-making process.

It is the emotion generated from the Emotional Urgency Trigger, nostalgia, that will influence people’s perception of your products or services.

MATTRIXX Tip: When used correctly, nostalgia can also make us feel younger (at least for a short period of time) because it can compress time within our mind … we feel young when we recall pleasant memories. When we “relive” our nostalgic memories, they become mental images. This is an extremely powerful trigger when you know how to use it. As I tell my clients, “The soul never stirs without first creating a mental picture!”

MATTRIXX Tip: Case in Point: Valentine’s Day – Our memories become especially potent during holidays like Valentine’s Day. Cards, flowers, and candy are powerful triggers that allow us to recall past experiences. Through annual rituals, we play mental tricks on ourselves … and when the ritual works, we feel happy combining past memories with a new pleasant experience.

In today’s environment of a troubled economy, global unrest, and an aging population base conjuring up past experiences that engender hope is a great strategy to produce your desired outcome. A nostalgic approach might just help your employees or clients see a clearer vision of what you have to offer.

It reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw on an old pick-up truck in Montana. The sticker said, “It’s hard to be nostalgic when you can’t remember anything.”

Oh, how we long for the “Good Old Days” when our lives were simpler, our neighborhoods were safer, and we felt more secure. Yes, nostalgia really kicks-in when we listen to our favorite old songs while sitting in a retro-style diner, eating a good old juicy hamburger with hot crispy French fries on the side while sipping on an old-fashioned chocolate milkshake or cherry coke … complete with hot-rods, hard-tails, and muscle cars cruising around the parking lot!

If you want to increase your ability to influence others; if you want 3X to 10X ROI on your sales and marketing efforts; if you want to boost your sales closure rates, or if you want to become a persuasive salesperson, start using nostalgia, one of the more powerful Emotional Urgency Triggers.

You will be amazed at the results … and how good it makes others feel!

You don’t have to beat your competitors, you just have to invalidate them.


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