In many ways, marketing is a guessing game. You form a hypothesis, put it to the test, see if it works and if it doesn’t, tweak it until you see results.
What if there was a way to leapfrog all of those guesses and for your marketing to hit the mark more immediately? More meaningfully? More powerfully?
Allow me to introduce you to neuromarketing.
Neuromarketing is exactly what it sounds like – a combination of neuroscience and marketing. It takes our understanding of the brain and human behavior and applies it to marketing so you can connect more directly with your target audience, engage with them more deeply, and guide them to the actions that matter most.
Here are just a few examples of the power of neuromarketing.
We all like to think we’re highly rational individuals, making decisions based on what is most logical.
The truth is, that’s not how the brain works. Everyone is ruled by the subconscious – even your customers. In fact, while 11 million bits of sensory information are processed by the subconscious every second, the conscious brain processes less than 100 bits in comparison.
So what does this mean for business owners?
It means customer behavior doesn’t rely on logic.
According to Gerald Zaltman, Emeritus Professor at Harvard Business School, 95% of decisions are made by the subconscious – including purchase decisions. So to get customers to buy, you have to be able to tap into that subconscious.
That’s where neuromarketing comes in. If it were up to the conscious brain to make purchasing decisions, then sure, your customers would read all your web copy and blog posts, compare specs, read every case study and study the results before making a decision, because that would be the logical thing to do.
To tap into the part of the brain that makes purchasing decisions, however, you have to evoke an emotional response.
Neuroscientist Antonio Domasio conducted a study on people who couldn’t feel emotions due to brain damage. What he found was that making decisions was extremely difficult. There was probably a more logical option, but because participants didn’t feel strongly about any option presented to them, they waffled endlessly.
Think about it: if we relied solely on logic, no one would ever buy brand name products when the exact same product is sitting next to the item on the shelf only with different packaging.
Brands have worked to create an emotional connection with their specific audience, unlike generic brands. Because of this, they still dominate their industries over the more logical, affordable, generic options! Emotion is that powerful.
Despite all those millions of bits of sensory information our brain can process every second, we are still constantly faced with information overload, especially when it comes to marketing.
When we’re bombarded by nearly 5,000 marketing messages on a daily basis (in addition to everything else) our brain has to decide within milliseconds what to ignore and what to absorb. The result? A brain that wanders and ignores the very things that were meant to grab its attention.
In marketing, it’s easy to fall into a pattern. We discover something that works and we implement it...over and over and over again. Eventually, that marketing strategy or trend that was once so effective becomes, well, ordinary. Suddenly everyone can anticipate what’s coming next. The surprise is gone, and once the surprise is gone, the brain shuts down.
According to neuroscientist Gregory Burns, we have a higher amount of brain activity in response to things that surprise us over things that suit our tastes. You may love minimalist design, but even with that preference, you’ll be more inclined psychologically to stay on a website that breaks from convention and varies its design rather than a minimalist site that offers no surprise as you scroll, no matter how gorgeous it is.
The more you can (effectively) break from convention with your brand strategy and offer your site visitors something surprising, the more likely people are to not only stay on your page longer, but also fill out that contact form.
In the late 1990s, P&G’s skincare line, Oil of Olay, was seeing a massive decline in sales. After rebranding to “Olay,” refocusing their efforts on creating a quality product at an affordable price, and redesigning their packaging to match this mission, the only thing left to change was their prices.
In the book “Playing to Win,” A.G. Lafley and Roger Martin write that Olay products had been selling at drugstore prices – around $8 or less. Department store brands were selling their products anywhere from $25 to hundreds of dollars. Many consumers believed that higher prices equaled better quality. The problem was that many department store brands’ prices were too high – especially for the market Olay was trying to target.
Olay now had packaging that screamed “high quality.” They needed a price point that would promise the same without breaking the bank.
So they did some market research. They sold their new Olay products at price points between $12.99 and $18.99. What they found was that, at $12.99 their main buyers were mass shoppers, not department store shoppers. But at $15.99 purchase intent dropped and then shot up again at $18.99.
Their conclusion? The $18.99 price point (just lower than most department store brands) told customers that they were getting a high quality product at a great price rather than a mediocre drugstore product or a too-expensive product like Estée Lauder.
From there, they built up their reputation and were able to introduce Olay Regenerist and Olay Definity and Olay Pro-X at higher price points, and through neuromarketing research they were able to build a $2.5 million brand!
Why spend ages guessing and testing over and over again, hoping something magically works? These examples of neuromarketing prove there’s a better way. Whether you’re planning a digital marketing or ad campaign for your target audience, developing a product design or brand identity or creating content for your blog, applying these neuromarketing techniques will pack a powerful punch.
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