Using Your Brain in Marketing

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In the hyper-competitive world of marketing and sales, it isn't sufficient just to push out an ad or a sales letter and hope and pray for a response. Consumers and corporate buyers are increasingly spoilt for choice, and selling based on price alone is not sustainable in the long haul.

The solution? Market to one's old brain according to authors Patrick Renvoise and Christophe Morin (co-founders of SalesBrain) of the book Neuromarketing - Understanding the "Buy Buttons" in Your Customer's Brain. Describing how the primitive old brain (which dates back 450 million years ago apparently) is the decision making centre of human beings, this highly readable volume suggests tools and techniques to create an impact where it matters most.

To hit the six stimuli of the old brain (self-centredness, contrast, tangible input, beginning and end, visual stimuli and emotion), Renvoise and Morin created an easy four-step process:

1) Diagnose the Pain. This involves understanding the fundamental problems and issues that your prospect faces. For example, he or she may really want a beautiful set of teeth rather than a nice tasting toothpaste. Key considerations include the source of the pain (eg financial, personal, health), its intensity, timing and awareness.

2) Differentiate your Claims. This involves creating significant contrast and uniqueness from one’s competitors. Originality (Coca Cola and Levi’s), recommended choice (More dentists recommend XYZ...), or convenience (7-Eleven’s always close but never close) are some of the possibilities.

3) Demonstrate the Gain. This involves coming up with the evidence that your claim works. It can be in the form of a customer story or testimonial, a demonstration (eg the famous iPhone blending advertisement by Blendtec below), data (eg studies by independent research firms), or a vision (using analogies, metaphors or stories).

4) Deliver to the Old Brain. This final step involves coming up with the nuts and bolts of your marketing message. In the book, there are six key message building blocks which are proposed:

i) Grabber – a mini-drama, wordplay, rhetorical question, prop or stories that can capture one’s attention.

ii) Big Picture – the old adage that a picture paints a thousand words apply here. In this case, the picture should be one that immediately shows relief from the prospect’s main source of main.

iii) Claims – these are the unique selling propositions that are specific and defensible. Repetition helps to reinforce them in your prospect’s mind.

iv) Proofs of Gain – the tangible and intangible proofs that you are not just pulling wool over a customer’s eyes.

v) Handling Objections – a very necessary skill. In the book, this is done by restating the objection, stepping into it, waiting for the feedback of prospects, stating one’s personal opinion and presenting a positive side to the objection.

vi) The Close – this is done through repetition of one’s claims and triggering a positive commitment.

Finally, to strengthen one’s marketing message, the authors have suggested seven impact boosters: wordings with “You”, establishing one’s credibility, engaging prospect’s emotions, using contrast (before and after like the famous Dove Evolution ad below), adapting to audience’s learning styles (visual, auditory or kinesthetic), telling stories and the Zen philosophy of‘Less is More’ (which is one of the great truisms of the internet age).

While Neuromarketing doesn’t quite go deeply into the theoretical underpinnings of how one’s brain works, it does provide rather useful and practical tips on improving one’s marketing techniques. Some of its principles are derived from Advertising 101 (think AIDA) while others delve into the art and science of selling. While scholars may poo-poo the idea of exploiting one’s cranium for commercial purposes, it may have to be a necessary evil in times like this.

Overall, a highly recommended read for beginning marketers keen to hone their craft.

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