The Secret Of Customer Loyalty & Not Having To Discount


(By Roy Williams) Adrenaline is a neurotransmitter that increases blood flow to the muscles during times of excitement and creates involuntary recall of events. When there is adrenaline in the blood, you are more likely to remember the moment. This is why advertisers want to make ads sound exciting.

Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of connectedness and bonding. This is how powerful brands are built.

More than 240 years after the fact, we continue to admire John Adams and his amazing wife, Abigail, because they left behind words of bonding, both to one another and to the ideals they shared. John said, “I believe there is among our people a fund of wisdom, integrity, and humanity which will preserve their happiness.” John Adams wanted the best for us, and he believed the best about us.

We likewise admire Thomas Jefferson because he, too, gave us words of bonding that showed us his heart. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and were given by their Creator the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Thomas Jefferson wanted the best for us, and he believed the best about us.

These people showed us what they valued. They showed us what they believed. We call them patriots and Founding Fathers.

They gave us oxytocin.

But we have no deep admiration for Thomas Pinckney, although he served with distinction during the Revolutionary War, then became governor of South Carolina, where he presided over the state convention that ratified the United States Constitution. In 1792, George Washington appointed Thomas Pinckney ambassador to Britain and envoy extraordinary to Spain, and in the presidential election of 1796, Pinckney gathered almost as many votes as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson! But Pinckney was a man of action — adrenaline — rather than bonding. Pinckney gave us no oxytocin.

Bonding — that feeling of connectedness — is a product of oxytocin. And bonding produces loyalty. Bonding and loyalty … what words those are to a marketer!

Are you sharing words of bonding in your ads? Are you encouraging your customers? Do they believe you want the best for them?

Sadly, most ads are built on logic and adrenaline. “Act now! Save money! Don’t miss this event!” But the best marketing is built on stories that trigger the release of oxytocin.

“The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor. Everyone loves a good story; every culture bathes its children in stories.” — Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind, p. 287

When a person proposes marriage — the ultimate expression of bonding and loyalty — they choose not only their words, but also the time and place of expression.

What is the emotional environment that will precede your advertising? What will the customer be feeling in that moment before they encounter your ad? What chemicals will be flowing in their blood?

Emotional environment is dictated by where you spend your ad budget. Adrenaline in the blood (excitement) will give your message a higher likelihood of recall. Oxytocin in the blood (bonding) will give your customer a feeling of connection to your brand.

Sporting events provide adrenaline excitement mixed with the oxytocin of bonding (with a team). Romantic stories, romantic TV shows and movies, and romantic music provide adrenaline excitement mixed with the oxytocin of bonding (with a lover).

Adrenaline without oxytocin is “fight or flight.” Politics makes us fighting mad, and fear makes us feel like running away. Mix your ads with politics or fear and you will be remembered, but never loved.

Words of bonding are the essence of community content.

Words of bonding are the keys to not having to discount.

Words of bonding are expressed by characters in stories.

Bonding and loyalty are triggered by the stories you share in your ads, videos, podcasts, and blog posts. Are the characters in your ads interesting and credible? Does the public love and trust them?

I leave you now to do with this information as you will.

Roy Williams is president of Wizard of Ads Inc. He will be speaking at Radio Ink’s Radio Masters Sales Summit this September. Read Roy’s Radio Ink archives here or read his latest column exclusively in the current edition of Radio Ink Magazine HERE.


  1. Stellar stuff, Roy.
    The reality, however, is that ownership and management are unwilling to even address improving the obnoxious “direct response” ads that make up 90% of radio’s commercial offerings.
    You are providing Ph.D. materials to a bunch of snotty, disinterested, grade 6 students.
    Still – marvelous vittles.


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