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Neuromarketing 101: What is Neuromarketing and How are Companies Using It?

Neuromarketing 101: What is Neuromarketing and How are Companies Using It? Blog Feature

September 7th, 2017 min read

In the past, before content and social media marketing, your boss may have increased your budget and told you to buy more ads, sponsor additional events, or throw your logo on a bus stop bench, but in today’s world, the biggest challenge for marketers is getting better results while spending less money.

How can we solve for this challenge? Neuromarketing.

Using neuromarketing, you can rethink your strategies and create smarter marketing that will boost the effectiveness of your efforts. The goal of it is to understand how your customer’s brain actually works and what affects your marketing will have on the population of consumers.

Roger Dooley, writer of the Neuromarketing blog since 2005, describes 100 tactics to convince and persuade in his book Brainfluence.

In it, Dooley stays away from the scientific lingo and focuses on the practical advice marketers need in order to get their ideas to work in almost every company’s situation and/or budget.

Consumers are subconsciously defining what they want, how much they will pay, and maybe even what promotional activities appeal to them every day. The key to getting results with less is understanding this.

What is Neuromarketing and How Does it Work?

There are two basic methods of tracking prospects’ brain activity each with their own pros and cons: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electroencephalography (EEG).

Utilizing fMRI involves using a powerful magnet to track the brain’s blood flow as subjects respond to audio and visual cues. This allows examiners to access a deep part of the brain known as the “pleasure center” and lets marketers know how people are really responding to their work.

The downfalls of fMRI are its price tag and inconvenience. Equipment is very expensive to operate (up to $1,000 per machine per hour) and subjects must lie completely still in a large machine.

EEG, on the other hand, is much cheaper than fMRI and by using a cap of electrodes attached to the sample’s scalp, it also allows for movement.

These electrodes measure electrical waves produced by the brain and allow researchers to track instinctual emotions such as anger, excitement, sorrow, and lust through fluctuations of activity.

However, unlike fMRI, EEG does not grant access to deep parts of the brain where the “pleasure center” is located.

Neuromarketing has been around for roughly a decade, and only seems to be growing in popularity. Despite its skeptics and naysayers, major corporations have used this technology when designing their products, packaging, and advertising campaigns.

How Have Brands Used Neuromarketing

Brands such as Campbell’s Soup, Gerber, and Frito-Lay have used neuromarketing to restyle their packaging designs.

In these instances, consumers were exposed to a product’s packaging piece by piece, and their response was recorded as positive, neutral, or negative. This information was then used in conjunction with an in-depth interview to analyze specific points that eventually resulted in changes to elements such as color, text size, and imagery.

Frito-Lay, for instance, discovered matte bags with pictures of potatoes did not trigger a negative response, whereas shiny bags with pictures of chips on them did. Within months, new bags were designed and the shiny ones were scrapped.

In another case, Hyundai utilized neuromarketing  when they gave thirty participants EEG caps and asked them to examine a car prototype for an hour.

Last, but not least, PayPal discovered that commercials focusing on speed and convenience triggered a significantly higher response than those advertising safety and security and developed an entirely new ad campaign based on the results.

5 Ways You Can Use Neuromarketing Today

1. Use Simple Fonts to Encourage Action

In Brainfluence, one of my favorite chapters discusses experiments marketers conducted regarding fonts, length, and even weight of documents.

For years, many of us have been told to “keep it simple,” well, experiments completed by Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz at the University of Michigan show that consumers truly can be affected by simple vs. complex fonts.

“If you need to convince a customer, client, or donor to perform some kind of task, you should describe that task in a simple, easy to read font,” Roger Dooley tells us in his chapter “Brainfluence in Print.”

This goes without saying for all website related content, including forms. Instructions for the form fill should be in an easy to read font and simplified as much as possible. The harder something is to do, the more friction it creates, and the less likely people will be to take action.

2.  Make Consumers Remember With Complex Fonts

Dooley also describes complexity as well.

While simplifying and easy to read fonts can help consumers take action with instructions, memory recall is boosted with a complex font.

Be careful though! This doesn’t mean you should use a complex font for your logo, phone number, or tag line. Use this tactic for important information throughout your web copy only. A complex font will not only be more memorable, but grab more attention visually.

3. Use Gaze to Direct Attention

If you are using an image of a person or even an animal, take a look at their eyes.

James Breeze, an Australian usability specialist quoted in Dooley’s Brainfluence studied how people view ads with babies.

In his research, he found that people will look at what the person in the ad is looking at. So, be sure to direct the face in your ad to look at what you’d like the viewer to focus on.

4. Gain Trust With Customers by Showing Trust

Trust is very important when it comes to getting referrals and building a credible business.

If you want your customers to really trust you they have to feel trusted as well. Here are some quick tips from Brainfluence on how you can demonstrate trust with your customers:

  1. Offer a trial with few restrictions
  2. Establish credit without long forms or a lengthy screening process
  3. Provide confidential information without making a prospect or customer sign an NDA

5.  A Smile Goes a Long Way

Many marketers rely on stock photography in order to “personalize” their website.

This could be a quick way to show personality and “humanize” the brand but what should be considered when selecting the best option?

Choose the smiling photo over the serious business man. Studies show from marketing research that a “mood boosting” image can affect customers’ willingness to spend.

Final Thoughts

Breaking through the clutter has proved to be an increasingly difficult task in this day and age, and marketers are always searching for an advantage.

Understanding the most basic roots of human emotion is vital in comprehending a consumer's’ purchasing behavior.

The beauty of neuromarketing is its ability to integrate into both your outbound and inbound marketing strategies.

From things like offering a prospect a warm beverage and seating them a soft chair during a sales conversation to using pictures in babies in advertising. These are all tactics our brain subconsciously responds to.

Awareness of the marketing tactics that could impact your efforts will be the best way to get better results with less money!


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