Neuromarketing might just blow your mind.
The nascent term, which describes the use of neuroscience tools to help determine why consumers buy what they buy, is upsetting traditional marketing methods and practices. For centuries marketers have done certain things in certain ways, believing them to be most effective. This conventional wisdom dominated the field of marketing and advertising for a long, long time.
Not only do we have the newness of neuromarketing, but we also have a new arena of digital marketing tools. Among others, there's the science of landing pages, SEO, PPC, conversion optimization, and a host of other discoveries about customers and why and where they click. For those who are able to successfully blend digital innovations with neuromarketing ideas, the world is your oyster.
So, where do you start? Try these three killer neuromarketing tips that will totally change the way you do marketing:
1. Affect as many senses as possible.
The stronger the sensory experience of a website, the greater the overall impact on the visitor. If you engage the user's sense of sight, that's good. But if you require the use of his/her eyes (sense of sight) and ears (sense of hearing), that's even better. Better still, if you can engage the sense of touch or smell along with the others.
For example, restaurateurs have found that scent strongly affects human behavior. If you look at a cinnamon roll, that might be enough to compel you to purchase it. But if you look at it, and smell the fresh dough, cinnamon, and brown sugar, you're even more likely to make a purchase. That's precisely why Cinnabon, a bakery chain, structures their entire store layout to place the ovens at the entrance where people can smell the cooking cinnamon rolls.
Why is this the case? Your senses trigger powerful reactions in your brain. Recent research shows that the right scent can open people's wallets, project a sense of comfort and home (think hotels), shorten the time you believe you're waiting (think banking) or even improve your sense of performance (think gym).
2. Target emotional responses.
The brain uses emotions to respond to any event. When you open up your laptop for work in the morning, your emotions are engaged. When you reach for that first cup of coffee, emotions are in play. When you meet a colleague after work for some happy hour drinks, your emotions are still swirling around your limbic system, affecting what you say, how you say it, and how you behave.
The portion of the brain responsible for our emotions has been called the "mammalian" brain, or the "middle brain." It is the limbic system, and is closely integrated with the R-Complex, also known as the "reptilian" brain.
This old section of the brain is responsible for keeping us alive in a very primitive sense--telling us to breathe, when to eat, and when to seek out a drink of water. It's also responsible for "flight-or flight," a life-saving instinctual response to danger or uncomfortable situations. The emotions experienced by the middle or mammalian brain have a direct impact upon the R-complex/reptilian brain.
Gilbert Clotaire Rapaille, the influential French-born marketing genius, tells how both politicians and advertisers can influence the unconscious-factors of decision-making. For Rapaille, it all comes down to the power of the limbic system upon the reptilian brain.
Here is how he described his approach in a PBS interview: "My theory is very simple: The reptilian always wins. I don't care what you're going to tell me intellectually. I don't care. Give me the reptilian. Why? Because the reptilian always wins." He's talking about the way that the limbic system affects the brain's automatic response to stimuli.
The outward expressions of emotion are more pronounced in some people, but every human is wired with emotions. These emotions are on all the time, and cannot be peeled apart from an individual's other behavior. A BusinessPundit article sums it up succinctly: "In an oversupplied economy, customer feelings drive purchase decisions and profitability."
Those feelings are what you must aim to affect in your marketing. Charts, graphs, metrics, and percentage signs all have their place in marketing. However, due to the way minds employ emotions to make decisions, that's not all you should be using. That information--numbers and statistics--affect a customer's rational brain, the neocortex. But other forms of marketing--images, stories, etc.--elicit a stronger emotional response in the limbic brain.
3. Focus on relieving pain more than emphasizing pleasure.
One of the most paradigm-shattering findings of neuromarketing is the concept that pain is stronger than pleasure in a consumer transaction.
Traditionally, marketing tells people all about the pleasures of the product or service: features, benefits, cost-savings, etc. This is backwards. Why? Because "consumers focus more on not getting hurt over the need to feel great when making decisions."
Pain trumps gain in a purchase decision. Neuromarketing whiz Christophe Morin's title is "Chief Pain Officer" because of this underlying premise of neuromarketing: "Humans are pain-avoiding machines."
Neuromarketing experts say that the brain's pain avoidance response is almost three times stronger than the brain's pleasure seeking response. Making a purchase automatically turns on the brain's pain centers (negative activation). As Seth Godin points out in his joy/cash curve, the most expensive and least expensive purchases are the most painful.
Most consumer goods or services--including what you might be selling on your website--are positioned at the peak of the joy-response section of this bell curve. Although this is true, you must still overcome a certain amount of pain in the process.