Have you ever seen Mad Men? Probably you have. So you know that, in the past, advertising and marketing was a largely hit-and-miss affair. Ad men and women would spend hours trying to come up with attention-grabbing campaigns. Sometimes they’d work; sometimes they didn’t.
Today, however, things are completely different. Thanks to huge advances in neuroscience, we now have a much deeper understanding of how people’s brains work. We know why people react to stimuli, such as adverts or marketing pitches, and for the marketing profession, such information is pure gold. Don Draper or Peggy would have killed for such knowledge.
Fortunately, you needn’t get homicidal to unlock the secrets of the brain; the book, Neuromarketing by Patrick Renvoise, gives a concise introduction to the use of neuromarketing.
When you decide to buy coffee on your way to work in the morning, do you ever consider why you made this choice? Did you rationally compare all prices of nearby competing cafes in order to get the best coffee for money? Or did you just feel like getting a cappuccino?
No matter which strategy you followed, when making that choice of where to get your coffee, you were using what is known as your old brain.
The old brain is your decision-making center; it assesses the information coming from the other two parts of the brain, the new part and the middle part.
The new part of the brain provides rational insights, like, “This latte provides the best value for my money.” The middle part handles emotions and “gut feelings.”
Marketers need to appeal to the old brain if they want to increase sales. So what can they do to ensure they reach it?
One way not to reach it is language. Humankind didn’t develop spoken words until a mere 40,000 years ago. Written language is even younger, developed around 10,000 years ago. The old brain, in contrast, is 450 million years old – and rational language can’t adequately capture its attention.
You’ll have to be more clever than that to reach the old brain.
For example, we know that the old brain is self-centered, caring only about its own prosperity and survival. Therefore, good marketers always concentrate on how their products will improve the lives of those who purchase them.
The old brain is also lazy. It only focuses on the beginning and the end of something, rather than the middle. So if you want to sell, make sure that the beginning and end of your ad are bold and attention-grabbing. This way, people will actually remember them.
In order to optimize the message you plan on delivering to the old brain, you’ll need to do some prep work. Here are three steps that’ll help you prepare most effectively.
Start by diagnosing the pain. Be attentive and listen to your customer, and they will give you insight into their pain – that is, the reason they desperately need your product.
Say you’re trying to sell an industrial drill. What might your customers’ pain be? Well, they probably want to bore a hole in a dense surface, but lack the equipment to do so.
Next, differentiate your claims. Ask yourself: What makes me and my product special, and how will it help solve my customers’ pain? Try to come up with an answer that is as concrete as possible.
Let’s go back to your drill company: Maybe your unique differentiator is that your customers believe you have the most reliable drills, the best customer care or the quickest delivery of replacement parts.
Finally, demonstrate the gain. Your goal here is to definitively demonstrate how your product answers potential customers’ pain and adds something to their lives.
Don’t be vague! Here, you’ll want to provide hard evidence. Customer stories, testimonials, short demonstrations, prototypes, data or even your personal vision make your product more real and palpable.
For example, tell your customers about that time the city of Indianapolis was able to finish their water pump project two weeks ahead of schedule because their operation went so smoothly – all thanks to that drill of yours!
Once you have these three areas prepared, it’s time to move on to the next step to focus on some practical ways to structure your message – ways that intrigue and entice the old brain.
First, make use of the following building blocks when constructing your message:
Use big pictures to help potential customers visualize what your solution can do for them. These images are most effective when they demonstrate a contrast, such as life before and after adopting your solution.
To visualize this, imagine you are selling mattresses. On the left side of your ad, you could show a tired, unkempt man struggling at work because of sleep deprivation; on the right, this same man is happily and comfortably snuggled up next to his attractive partner on one of your company’s mattresses.
Another such building block is your proofs of gain, that is, the evidence that your customer’s life will improve upon purchasing your product. One way to clearly demonstrate this proof is through statistics. It’s hard to misinterpret something like “99 percent of our customers sleep better after switching to our mattresses.”
Second, fine tune your message by adding impact boosters – small added details based on the three styles of learning: visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and kinesthetic (doing). They’re all important, so make sure you appeal to all of them in your marketing campaign.
For example, when selling your mattresses, the visual element described above should be complemented by something auditory, perhaps someone telling the story of how the bed made them feel rejuvenated. Then add something kinesthetic by letting your audience participate – telling their own stories, for instance, or even trying out the bed themselves!
Though there are many forms of marketing and advertising, one of the most common is the presentation, where you convince people – face-to-face – to consider, and hopefully purchase, your product. As with other forms of marketing, it’s absolutely essential that you concentrate on communicating to the old brain when making a presentation.
The secret to a great presentation lies in immediately grabbing the audience’s attention. To make a great impression, you need grabbers, techniques that nab your audience’s attention. Here are a few that you can try:
Mini-dramas. With this grabber, you describe your customer’s typical day, focusing on their deepest pain (which your solution will cure). Next, you show the contrast between life before and life after implementing your solution. Through this combination of pain and emotion, mini-dramas are easily memorable.
Imagine, for example, that you want to sell “toughbooks,” nearly unbreakable laptops. Your mini-drama could focus on the devastation that your customer feels as their laptop slips from their hands and falls to the ground. Luckily, right before their laptop smashes to the pavement, they remember that there’s no reason to worry – their toughbook is unbreakable!
Another type of grabber is rhetorical questions – questions that aren’t meant to be answered, but to get your audience thinking about something specific or to illustrate a strong point.
Ask hypothetical questions about the audience, questions that draw comparisons or contrasts; the old brain can’t help but immediately fixate on finding an answer.
Props. Research shows that your audience will more easily remember your presentation when you demonstrate the value of your solution by using tools and props. If you’re delivering a presentation aimed at winning a contract for your security company, for example, you could use your locks as a prop displaying your security competence.
By using these grabbers, you can hold the attention of an audience member’s old brain long enough to successfully deliver your message.
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