A Business Owners Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) in Marketing

NLP in Marketing

I bought a book about NLP in public speaking awhile back. It's called Presenting Magically, Transforming Your Stage Presence with NLP. I thought it provided some good, straightforward guidance on the topic. Was it magic? No. But are there valuable techniques to help you master the stage? Yes, absolutely. 

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a psychological approach that connects neurological processes, language and behavioral patterns. Developed in the 1970s by Richard Bandler and John Grinder, NLP is often described as a set of tools and techniques for understanding and influencing human behavior

So, can we add NLP to our marketing? The two concepts are almost synonymous because NLP is about persuasion and so is marketing.

In this article I aim to outline a few benefits and criticisms of using NLP, list some things to avoid when using NLP in marketing, share a few famous examples and a few tips on how to include NLP in your marketing. 

Benefits: How Using NLP in Marketing Helps  


NLP emphasizes the importance of effective communication by understanding and utilizing language patterns. In marketing, this means crafting messages that resonate with the target audience, creating a stronger emotional connection and ultimately increasing engagement with your brand and business. 


Establishing a rapport with potential customers is crucial in marketing. NLP techniques can help businesses build rapport by mirroring and matching the verbal and non-verbal cues of their audience. This creates a sense of familiarity and trust, fostering a deeper connection.


NLP provides tools to analyze and interpret customer behavior. By understanding the language and preferences of your audience, businesses can tailor their marketing strategies to better align with the needs and desires of their customers.


In the competitive world of marketing, persuasion is a key element. NLP techniques, such as utilizing influential language patterns and anchoring positive emotions, can be applied to create more compelling and persuasive marketing messages.

Criticisms of NLP in Marketing

While NLP has gained popularity in marketing circles, it's not without its criticisms.  One major criticism of NLP is the lack of robust scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness. Some critics argue there is only anecdotal evidence to support any effectiveness to NLP. 

Another criticism says NLP involves interpreting and understanding subjective experiences. So some argue that makes it challenging to measure consistently across diverse audiences. A tip then is to avoid relying on NLP techniques alone but instead consider them as part of a broader marketing strategy.

Something to avoid is the potential perception of manipulation. Critics argue that certain NLP techniques, if used unethically, can feel  manipulative and that can lead to a breach of trust with your audience. So, while aiming to persuade and influence, be aware of ethical implications and remain genuine with your connections and customers. 

FAMOUS Examples of NLP in Well-Known Marketing Campaigns

Budweiser's "Whassup?" Campaign:

NLP Principle Applied: Linguistic Pacing and Building Rapport

Description: Budweiser's "Whassup?" campaign from the early 2000s used linguistic pacing to build rapport with the audience. The simple and casual greeting became a cultural phenomenon, creating a sense of camaraderie among viewers. This aligns with NLP's emphasis on mirroring and matching language patterns for effective communication.

Result: The campaign was widely embraced, becoming a pop culture reference and reinforcing Budweiser's connection with a younger, more casual demographic.

Subway's "Eat Fresh" Campaign:

NLP Principle Applied: Positive Association and Sensory Rich Language

Description: Subway's "Eat Fresh" campaign focused on promoting the idea of consuming fresh and healthy food. The use of sensory-rich language, such as the visual appeal of fresh ingredients and the taste of a freshly made sandwich, aimed to create positive associations in the minds of consumers. NLP principles, particularly anchoring positive emotions to a brand, were employed to enhance the overall experience.

Result: The "Eat Fresh" campaign positioned Subway as a healthier alternative in the fast-food industry, contributing to increased sales and a positive brand image.

Dollar Shave Club's "Our Blades Are F*ing Great" Campaign:**

NLP Principle Applied: Humor and Direct Language

Description: Dollar Shave Club's debut marketing video took a humorous and direct approach, addressing common grievances with the shaving industry. The use of straightforward language and humor resonated with viewers, creating a memorable and relatable brand image. NLP principles, such as humor as a powerful communication tool, were effectively utilized.

Result: The campaign went viral, helping Dollar Shave Club establish itself as a disruptive force in the grooming industry. The use of humor and direct language contributed to the brand's identity as a no-nonsense, cost-effective solution for consumers.

Things to Avoid in NLP Marketing

While NLP can be a valuable tool, it's essential to be mindful of potential pitfalls. Here are some things to avoid:


Customers can sense insincerity and attempting to manipulate emotions or behaviors can damage your brand's reputation.


While understanding your audience is crucial, avoid overloading your marketing materials with technical jargon. The goal is to connect with your audience so using language they can relate to is key.


NLP should enhance authenticity, not replace it. Don't sacrifice the genuine voice of your brand in an attempt to incorporate NLP techniques. Authenticity builds trust, and trust is the foundation of successful marketing.


Always consider the ethical implications of your marketing strategies. Ensure that your messaging is honest, transparent and aligns with ethical standards. Unethical practices can lead to long-term damage to your brand's reputation.

How To Use NLP in Small and Medium-Sized Business Marketing

The first step for a business looking to incorporate NLP into their marketing is to thoroughly understand your target audience. Analyze customer feedback, conduct surveys and use NLP techniques to identify the language patterns and preferences of your ideal customers.

Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, use NLP principles to craft your marketing messages. Focus on using language that resonates with your customers, addresses their needs and appeals to their emotions. Utilize sensory-rich language to create a more vivid and memorable experience.

Incorporate NLP techniques to build trust and rapport with your audience. Train your marketing and sales teams to mirror the language and gestures of your customers, creating a sense of familiarity and connection. This can be especially effective in email marketing, social media interactions and customer service.  

"Anchoring" is a powerful NLP technique where positive emotions are associated with a brand or product. Small and medium-sized businesses can use anchoring in their marketing by creating positive associations through storytelling, testimonials and consistent branding.

To Sum Up NLP in Marketing... 

Being aware of the techniques of Neuro-Linguistic Programming offers businesses a powerful set of tools to enhance marketing. Companies that have successfully incorporated NLP in their marketing messages report higher levels of brand loyalty. Businesses that tell compelling stories that align with their customers' values and aspirations often experience higher levels of interaction on social media and other marketing channels. It may not be magic per se, but when carefully considering things like effective communication, building rapport and persuasive techniques, businesses can create more successful marketing campaigns. 

To ensure your next marketing campaign is effective, send us a note and we can host a free strategy call with you

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