Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to a conference on neuromarketing. Neuromarketing uses learnings from neurology about how the brain responds to various stimuli, in this case advertising materials, to understand our behavioral choices. So, for example, researchers will hook people up to electroencephalograms (EEGs) or place them in functional MRI machines, expose them to advertisements, or to component images, text, etc. and see which areas of their brains light up with activity. Talk about “getting into someone’s head!” (I wrote about neuromarketing in an earlier blog post, entitled “The Neurology of Marketing” on 10/27/08, about the book, Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, by Martin Lindstrom.)
This has contributed to a growing body of knowledge and insight about why we do the things we do. For example, neuromarketing is exploding the “myth of rational choices”—That we carefully consider “the facts” in making a decision. Rather it highlights that most decision making is at a subconscious level, outside of our awareness; that most of the brain processing around choices takes place in emotional centers of the brain, not the logical centers. So, what are the implications for marketers, commercial or social? Do we have to bring an MRI machine into our focus groups?! Happily, no! Presenters at the conference discussed a number of “ready to use” learnings that I think we can begin applying right now. I will review one set of learnings now and relate other information in a later post.
Steven Walden, Senior Head of Research and Consulting, Beyond Philosophy, discussed “10 Psychological Principles for Managing Customer Experiences:”
- We make decisions based on preconceived expectations and prejudices of what an experience will be - not what it is. Our previous experiences set the tone, often subconsciously, of any interaction. But you can breach expectations to create a new market space (e.g., expanding a library into an entertainment center).
- We don’t consider all the elements of an experience, only those most noticeable (to the senses). And these often have to do with pleasure or pain. (Consider background music in a store, use of designs and colors in an office, a doctor touching your shoulder while listening to your heart.)
- We identify a moral code in what you do, even if it is not directly relevant to the purchase in question. This can color any other received information about you. (E.g., a department store offering canvas bags, rather than plastic; a bank’s Red credit card which generates donations to charity with each use.)
- Sometimes we don’t know about the things that influence us, we just subconsciously perceive them (e.g., the design of a car’s dashboard)…It’s about creating an emotionally and subconsciously engaging experience (e.g., the nerdy appeal of Best Buy’s Geek Squad)…Including those one second moments (e.g., Placing a smiling face on something makes the user more positively disposed to it.)
- Emotional twinges affect our ‘in the moment’ decision making and hence behavior (e.g., a pleasant voice on the other end of the phone; Starbuck’s writing YOUR name on you drink cup; the “cool” sleek design of an orange juicer.)…It’s about making routine experiences fun (e.g., pushing a button in a grocery store produce display to hear the bananas sing; Southwest Airlines’ off-beat sense of humor during safety instructions).
- We are prone to be wary of anything that threatens our well-being. (Implication: we are more sensitive about losses than gains. If someone has a negative experience, you are going to have work x-times harder to get them back to a positive state about you.)
- It is about what we want from an experience at a deep level and as we traverse it! (e.g., motivators may be deeper than what is expressed on the surface. No one ever got fired for buying an IBM—that may be the real motivation beneath an argument that “it is more powerful than a Mac.)...It’s about building attachment between employees and customers—building fans. (London Symphony Orchestra needed to increase the numbers of subscribers. They discovered people wanted to meet their favorite performer, so the symphony included a meet and greet after every performance.)
- Our memory of an event is not perfect, but subject to “manipulation.” (e.g. adding a pleasant experience to the end of something unpleasant –think a colonoscopy!—can help people remember it as more pleasant and less painful.)
- We like to follow the herd, be seen as part of the group. (Implication: cr eate followers and fans, a sense of community. E.g., a flower shop presents a special offer only to it Facebook fans; Harley-Davidson shows groups of biker dudes in its promotional materials.)
- We get bored with the same old, same old. Sometimes innovation for its own sake is important. (Implication: if you are not perceived as being in fashion or ahead of the curve, you will be left behind in your audience’s mind.)
One of the things that struck me out of all of this is the importance of creating positive experiences for our audiences. So, I challenge you: take a look at some of the principles. What ideas come to mind about how we can apply these principles to health behavior change, social change, and improving community well-being? Send your ideas in the comments and I will post them!