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Demystifying Creatives: The Importance Of Pattern-Interrupt Approach Tech visionary, investor and C Media founder Arham Muhammad shares his expertise and insights on the pattern-interrupt approach that can virtually make or break a business

By Julian Lim

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Julian Lim
Arham Muhammad

Taking a five- or six-figure advertising business and scaling it to nine or ten figures, or beyond, isn't easy. If you've ever been in this situation and had trouble moving forward, you may have wondered what, exactly, is to blame.

"In the advertising space, common knowledge holds that a given advertising business' ability to scale is tied to its products alone. This belief ignores something important—namely, the role played by pattern-interrupting creatives and the importance of updating them on a regular basis. These elements can lose their potency quickly when scaling, but they're also among the largest drivers of ROI out there," says Arham Muhammad, founder, C Media.

Want to ensure your creatives are doing their job effectively? It may be time to learn about neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP.

NLP explained

According to Muhammad, "Put simply, neuro-linguistic programming is a psychological approach to understanding how the human brain is affected by language. This approach dates back the 1970s, when it was designed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler."

How NLP works

As Bandler himself once described it, "Neuro-linguistic programming is the study of successful behaviors—and I don't just mean the external behavior. I mean the internal behaviors, the thought patterns that produce that success."

To break it down further, Grinder and Bandler believe our experiences, neurological processes, and use of language are all intrinsically connected. The combination of these factors allows our minds to work the way they do and affects our behaviors and actions. Additionally, people can create their own negative or positive NLP—and can even replace negative NLP with positive NLP to make it easier for them to accomplish various goals.

Though some doubt about the scientific validity of neuro-linguistic programming remains, many of its core principles can help take your advertising business to the next level.

NLP and advertising

Muhammad goes on to say, "It's important to note that NLP isn't a "silver bullet'—that is to say, it won't automatically solve all your problems. Still, it's at least worth considering. In some cases, studying NLP has helped advertisers dramatically increase their clients' advertising ROI."

One NLP-related technique that has been successfully implemented by advertising firms is known as the pattern-interrupt approach.

What is the pattern-interrupt approach?

As mentioned earlier, everyone has neuro-linguistic habits they've built up throughout their lives. The pattern-interrupt approach (or, as it's commonly known in the advertising business, the scroll-stopping approach) can break these habits and get users to pay attention to your clients' ads.

For example, let's say you're trying to kick an addiction to cigarettes. The pattern-interrupt approach can help you "reprogram' your mind, making it easier to avoid smoking by building new habits. Needless to say, this is also an extraordinarily powerful tool for advertising businesses.

Examples of pattern interrupts

A Salespreneurship article about pattern interrupts featured an example of how the technique can be used in cold calls. In this scenario, instead of launching right into a sales pitch, a hypothetical caller asks their potential customer if their name sounds familiar. This forces the person on the other end of the line to stop and think, breaking their established pattern for dealing with salespeople.

While Salespreneurship's article focuses on telemarketing, the principles behind NLP and the pattern-interrupt approach can be just as effective in any form of advertising. The key is to anticipate users' advertising-related patterns and break them.

In another article, Wildfire Concepts owner Cindy Donovan provided advice on how to use pattern interrupts in video advertisements. Among other tips, she encouraged advertisers to emphasize important words and phrases with on-screen text, display photos and silent videos on-screen in ads, use titles for videos (and new sections of videos), and share poll questions and answers during advertisements.

How to use pattern interrupts

Muhammad added, "Let's look at Netflix as another example. If you're a Netflix subscriber, you're probably familiar with what your own home screen looks like. But have you ever noticed that other people's home screens look different, and some shows and movies even have different thumbnails?"

There's a reason for that, and it's related to the pattern-interrupt approach. Netflix invested millions to figure out why some of its thumbnails caught viewers' attention while others failed to have a similar impact—and why some viewers exited out of their home screen after looking at it for little more than a minute. A study done by researchers at the company determined that users tended to lose interest after 60-90 seconds (or 10-20 title searches) if they were unable to find something interesting to watch.

Of course, the images used to represent these shows and movies play a huge role—especially since they're one of the few tools Netflix can use to promote them on its home screen. And because different people have different preferences, it makes sense that thumbnails that would appeal to some viewers wouldn't do anything for others.

Muhammad further adds, "This becomes even more important once ongoing changes to the human attention span are taken into consideration. In 2016, Facebook revealed that its users spend about 2.5 seconds with each piece of content in their News Feed on desktop—and just 1.7 seconds on mobile.

Two years later, Prezi's 2018 State of Attention Report found that the average person's attention span is not actually declining—instead, it's evolving. Faced with a constant onslaught of information, we're becoming better at selecting what to pay attention to. Prezi's report also stated that people are most willing to engage with content with a strong narrative component, engaging visuals, and dialogue.

By using creatives developed with NLP and the pattern-interrupt approach in mind, you can get the upper hand on your competition and help your ROI skyrocket.

Julian Lim

Tech entrepreneur, researcher and editor at Startup Fortune

Julian Lim is a technology entrepreneur and researcher. Julian has graduated from NUS in intelligent systems and started his career pursuing data analytics and research. He’s also an editor and senior writer at Startup Fortune, covering technology, startups, AI, blockchain and entrepreneurship.

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