Frames Are Everywhere
I am an artist. My work requires that I literally, physically put things in frames.
I’m also a psychology enthusiastic. (For a while I even pursued a Ph.D. in the subject!) In psychology, we understand that our minds create mental frames that contain the contents of our reality. Marketers apply this understanding to shift your reality in favor of buying what they're selling.
How can you apply frame manipulation to your own benefit?
What’s Your Business Here?
My business is art. I create and post a unique work every day, as part of my #MakeItYourBusiness project.
The idea is simple: Art cards in standard business-card format created to challenge the standard definition of “business.”
Frames Create Limits. Limits Organize Ideas.
To create a #MakeItYourBusiness card, I first search for images that inspire me in print media.
Often, the images I find are much larger than the 2" x 3.5" format.
So I must choose where to put the focus.
Let’s take this example of a child and mother:
Though the original image is exactly the same, framing it differently creates different stories.
Marketers and advertisers know that when the same information is framed in different ways, people's perception changes...and changes in behavior follow.
In fact, marketing success depends on the ability to frame information in the most effective (affecting) way.
For example, a single word can change a buyer’s frame from “bad deal” to “good deal.” That word is "only," i.e. “Yours for only $499!”
Marketers create frames that provide the context most likely to shift a prospect's perception in favor of buying.
Now, notice how your feelings change if I present the same idea by saying: "Marketers manipulate your perception."
Indeed, a whole subdivision of marketing--copywriting--is dedicated solely to understanding the subtle impact that different words can have on your feelings and, more importantly, your behavior.
Any good writer works on their campaigns or manuscripts like a composer scores a symphony, keenly aware of how every syllable comes together to produce the desired impact.
So, if marketers can manipulate your frames for their benefit, why shouldn’t you manipulate your own frames for your own benefit?
Using Frames to Change Your Reality
In psychological jargon, it’s called “Relational Frame Theory.”
Relational frames are the reason two people have entirely different interpretations of the exact same experience.
These frames are the mental constructs that support an idea, a belief, an experience, etc. — and they dictate how you interpret reality.
Because most of your frames are already well in place — you formed almost all of them subconsciously in childhood — it means that your mind knows its opinions on people, places, and events before they even happen.
For example, if you believe that Chicago is an ugly city, this belief is your frame. So when you go to Chicago your mind is programmed to only see ugliness, dirtiness, coldness.
But, if you believe Chicago is one of the most interesting, beautiful cities on Earth, this frame pre-decides what you will see and experience when you go there. (Interesting, beautiful stuff!)
What is An Experience Without A Frame?
Imagine a tent. Can you see it?
You've probably pictured the fabric material of the tent.
But, it is actually the aluminum tubes that create the frame to support the tent, making that fabric that you see the tent that it is.
Without the frame, its just a pile of canvas.
Without mental frames, ideas are just ideas, experiences are just what is and feelings are just feelings.
In the indelible words of Shakespeare:
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
So, How Can You Use Frames to Change Your Life, Your Art, and Your Business?
It’s simple: Think of the shape you want your tent to be before you put the canvas on it.
Choose the story you want to tell before you crop the image.
Frame information about your product, service, or artwork, so that the information is meaningful to your audience.
Choose the story you want to live before you start telling it.
If you choose the story that today is a beautiful day, you can arrange the details inside accordingly — whether it’s initially easy or not, it can be done.
You can also choose to cut out the parts that don’t fit into the frame.
Remember, it is just a pile of canvas. It’s yours to do with what you want.
You decide your story.