Archive for the ‘Neuromarketing’ Category

Social Media and The Rule of 150

Published by admin on October 18th, 2012

Original Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Social Media and The Rule of 150.

Google uses social media engagement as a key metric in giving relevance scores to websites, so, the more “likes” on your Facebook page the better, right?  10,000 is 100x better than 100 and a million is 100x better than that, right?  It’s important to remember that metrics don’t buy your products or services, human beings do, and while social media has changed our habits, our motivations and the size and sphere of our social groups haven’t changed since prehistoric times. Turns out the number you as a business owner need to be focused on is 150.

Social media has changed the conversational medium by which human beings communicate; it just hasn’t changed human beings.  The typical social group size for humans hasn’t changed.  It is and has always been about 150 people.  With the explosion in population, travel and access, and now the internet, social media, etc. one would think our social sphere of influence would have expanded, but it hasn’t.  Dr. Michael Gazzaniga is well researched in this field, and articulates this in his book Who’s In Charge: Free Will And The Science Of The Brain

Dr. Gazzaniga sites the work of Robin Dunbar, head of Oxford University Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group in the Department of Experimental Psychology:

“150-200 people are the number of people that can be controlled without an organizational hierarchy. It is the number of people one can keep track of, maintain a stable social relationship with, and would be willing to help with a favor.”

But why? What are the limiting factors that keep us at a social group of around 150? Turns out it has to do with the size of the neocortex in our brains.  He goes on to explain:

“To have social relationships, you call on five cognitive abilities:  (1) you must interpret visual information to recognize others, then (2)be able to remember both faces and (3) who has a relationship with whom; (4) you must process emotional information, and then (5) manipulate information about a set of relationships.”

Managing human relationships requires an immense amount of processing power and for whatever evolutionary reason our brains’ cognitive capacity caps out at around 150 people.  Yeah, but you (or someone you know) have 784 Facebook friends, right?  More from Dr. Gazzaniga:

Today’s social networking sites appear no different.  In an ongoing study, Dunbar has so far found that even people with hundreds of “friends” interact with a limited number of them.  “The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world.”

Still think getting that lady who has 950 Facebook friends to like your page is super influential? Sure she is, but no more than that introverted customer who slips in and out of your business without much engagement or feedback at all.  They both have about the same size social group.  Every customer interaction, from your advertising, your Facebook page, your website, to your phone calls, your trucks and store fronts, is an opportunity to delight each person as if they have direct influence with 150 people, because statistically speaking, they do.


The Conventional Wisdom Trap

Published by admin on June 22nd, 2012

  “In this economy, people are just looking for a deal” – Customer of mine who shall remain nameless

Conventional economic wisdom says that the reactions to price fluctuations should be inversely proportional (assuming there is adequate demand for a product or service).  Drop the price, consumers buy more.  Raise the price, consumers buy less.  But there’s a quirky thing about manipulating price and using price offers…

Prices have meaning beyond “the price”: Because we make decisions emotionally, consumers are irrational beings.  We imbue variables like price fluctuations with feeling or meaning.  The short-term reward from a discounted price offer is disproportionate to the fear of loss over a price increase. Manipulating prices to attract business in the short-term is a slippery slope and it is very difficult to recover from for three scientific reasons:

1)       Loss Aversion- Loss aversion is a conditioned response that refers to a person’s tendency to avoid loss over acquiring a gain. It is an emotion rooted in fear and it is innate in all of us.  The less the emotional connection there is, the more important price becomes as a factor. With no “emotional tie-breaker”, your customer is more likely to revert to the emotion of fear in the form of loss aversion and think in terms of potential losses vs. potential gains, and pay the lower price.

2)       Value Attribution- Consumers attribute value based on their initial perception. Particularly when attempting to attract new customers, the lifeblood of any growing business, “first impression” is difficult to overcome. If you use price tactics to attract customers, you can expect to lose them to a competitor on price as well.  Moreover, price tactics alone make building repeat and referral business a challenge. Asking a customer to pay $20 for a lunch that she paid $10 for the first time she patronized the business is a tricky proposition.

3)       Confirmation Bias- Similar to value attribution, confirmation bias is our natural inclination to favor information that confirms our initial impression.  What we believe is our reality, and we reject evidence that contradicts our beliefs.  Confirmation bias is a key-critical element in long term planning of your advertising.  There can only be one price-leader in any given category, and chances are you are not it. In the long run, raising the anticipated value and creating the confirmation bias of an excellent customer experience is always the more profitable move.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net


Advertising for 3 Phases of Consumer Behavior

Published by admin on February 24th, 2012

 

Everything I know about Relational and Transactional customers, I learned from Roy H. Williams, founder of the Wizard Academy  and the those terms should be properly credited to him.   My friend and former co-worker Josh Yudin, president of The Marketing Academy, an Atlanta-based consulting firm, assigned a new meaning to those terms as different modes of consumer behavior in general.   It has occurred to me, however, that there is a 3rd phase, Transitional, that incorporates both the general ethos of Relational or Transactional buyers, and buyer behavior through the sales cycle of any give product or service.  That said…

There are three phases of buyer behavior:

Relational, Transitional,  and Transactional

Relational: The phase customers are in before the need arises for your product. 95-98% of your target. The longer the sales cycle (HVAC, jewelry, cars once every few years, vs. say a restaurant, grocery store, gasoline, etc.), the longer a customer is in Relational phase

Transitional: After an event occurs to move them into the sales funnel (anything from the everyday mundane events like “I’m hungry” to paradigm shifting life events like “my mother broke her hip and now she can’t live alone”). The length of time a customer stays in Transitional mode depends on a number of factors like personality types,  immediacy of solution needed, amount of expense, resources available, etc.

Transactional: After the consumer has had what my friend calls the “Popeye moment” (as in, “I can’t stands no more!”). They’ve done any necessary research and they are ready to pull the trigger on a purchase.The immediate sales funnel. That 2-5% of your target customer that is ready to buy today.

  •  Each phase requires different advertising strategy.  One could argue for exceptions, but generally speaking, it works something like this.

Media Strategy for Each:

Relational Strategy: The “Why”.   Persuade with emotions. Authentically enroll people with the “why” of your company. Details and facts are irrelevant in relational mode because they are not yet in the market for your product.   While emotions can be conveyed in any medium, the human brain is uniquely wired for processing the human voice, thus making intrusive, sound-based media like Radio and TV a prudent choice for not only arresting the attention of an audience, but also telling the “why” story of your company in an emotionally compelling way.

Transitional Strategy:  The “How”.  An event has occurred in the customers life and they are looking for possible options to solve their problem. Articles and blog entries on your site found through a solid SEO strategy.   Social Media conversations on  Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest, etc.  Behavioral Retargeting is becoming more and more effective advertising tool in transitional phase. 

Transactional Strategy: The “Who, What, Where”.    They are ready to buy and they are looking for the details necessary to complete the transaction.  SEM (Pay Per Click) used correctly is a very effective tool in the Transactional phase.  Feedback sites like  Yelp, Angie’s List, Kudzu etc. are also becoming more and more important.  In certain cases print media can allow  a more comprehensive format to fill in the details and facts necessary to complete the transaction.  Search has a distinct advantage in that tools like Google Analytics allow advertisers to track metrics and provide reams of data that print media cannot (save tools like QR codes).

Trying to connect emotionally when consumers are in Transactional mode is too late.  Filling ads with details in Relational mode is too premature.

For more information, email me.


6 Quick Steps to Less Sucky Radio Ads (or any ads)

Published by admin on February 23rd, 2012

People don’t “hate advertising”.  Quite the contrary.  How many times have you forwarded a funny commercial or mentioned a clever ad to someone.  Multiple times.  No, we don’t hate advertising…we hate advertising that sucks.  Flacid, boring blah blah blah, and frankly most local radio ad copy sucks.  Heck, most local copy sucks, period.  Hate to be crude, but…it’s true.   However, ask those local advertisers who’ve built an empire on radio, those who you hear year after year? They’d tell you a different story.  So what’s the difference between sucky radio copy and not sucky radio copy?

 

 

Follow these 6 simple rules:

1) Arrest the attention: I had a well respected agency tell me once that she needed to “set the stage” before saying something significant.  The hell you do.  You don’t have time. You have 3 seconds for the brain to assess your message and either be intrigued enough to listen further, or kick it to the curb.  3 seconds. Between texting, talking, glancing at a GPS or whatever it’s a wonder anyone ever hears your ad.  Arrest their attention first. Not screaming like a car dealer, but by saying something out of left field for effect, then tie it back to the point you are trying to get across.    Email me, and I can show you several examples or even take your ad and do it for you if you are interested.

2) Ditch the details:  Tell an authentic, interesting story instead. There was a time when details may have mattered in radio ads.  That time dies with this thing called Google. We don’t have to remember details…about anything.  Google’s got it. Details are only important to those who are already in the market for a product, and 98% of those who hear it are not yet in the market. Your short :30 or :60 is too precious to spat details that are not important right now.  Let the details, (the who, what, when, and where,) be the domain of your website, blog, and search strategy, because when they do fall into the cue, they will search.  Tell of the story of the impact your product or service had on someone.  Make it interesting, and make it real.  To paraphrase Simon Sinek, “people don’t by what you do, they buy why you do it”.  Give them the why.  Tell them your story.

3) Crush the cliche’ catchphrase:  Seems so obvious, but there are scores of ads running right now, in my top 10 market touting “There’s never been a better time to buy a _________”, or “Everything must go!”, or “Family owned and operated since19__”.  If you’ve hear it before, your brain has too…and your brain knows better.  Broca’s area swats irrelevant cliches like mosquitoes.   Listeners never hear it.  Ever.   There are so many fun, persuasive, and effective ways to say what you are trying to get across without resorting to this.  It just takes a little imagination.  Email me and I’ll show you some great examples.

4) Abandon the obvious:  Heard this one the other day…”Hey Atlanta, it’s about to be springtime! Time to take off those unwanted pounds”  Really?? I hadn’t noticed.  And who’s this “Atlanta” character, anyway.   Just by looking through a different prism we can come up with many different, more interesting angles.   Once again, Broca’s area of the brain anticipates the predictable and banishes it to the scrap heap of irrelevancy.  Take a unique angle.  If you need inspiration, look no further than the fabulous “2o Something Betters” scene from the 1987 classic “Roxanne”.

5) Be Real:  We live in a jaded, over-sold world.  Our bullsh*t trigger fires at the slightest inkling of “being sold”.  Don’t use a polished “voice talent” from a station. In this age of authenticity, nothing is more hokey than a staged radio voice.  Be real with your ads.  Use real voices.  Speak in broken sentences.  Shed the sheen of a smooth sounding ad.  Your listeners are going to relate much more to an interesting story told in an authentic way than some slick talking DJ voice spatting the same old tired manure.

6) Give up the quest for magic beans:  So many advertisers want to hear that we have the magic beans….that we’re the station that “gets results”.  Unfortunately too many sales reps have told them about “their station” as if a mass media audience has some magical predilection to buy the advertisers product that other audiences don’t have.  While  some stations are more credible than others in the marketplace to be sure, at the end of the day Radio (or TV, or any other mass medium) aggregates people.  That’s it.  That’s all they do.  What you say and how frequently you say it separates success from failure, period.  There are no magic beans. Focus on interesting, story-based copy.   I can help you do that.


Think your customers make rational decisions?

Published by admin on October 26th, 2011

The Quick Skinny:

  • There are no rational decisions
  • There is an emotion behind every single decision we make, no matter how trivial.
  • Help your customers imagine experiences…for our brains scarcely knows the difference

Ever have someone say “you need to take the emotion out of it so you can make a rational decision”?  Sorry, it is not possible. It is impossible for your customers to make a decision to do business with you based purely on logic.   In fact,  it’s not possible for your customers (or any human) to decide anything by reason alone.  It is simply not possible to suspend emotion in favor of intellect.  Not only do our emotions NOT keep us from making rational decisions, but it is impossible to decide without them.  Blame evolution.  Jonah Lehrer, in his book How We Decide, makes two excellent points:

“The orbitofrontal cortex…is responsible for integrating visceral emotions into the decision making process.  It connects the feelings generated by the ‘primitive’ brain – areas like the brain stem and the amygdala…to the stream of conscious thought. When a person is [confronted with a choice]…[the OFC] has already assessed the alternatives-this analysis takes place outside of conscious awareness- and converted that assessment into a positive emotion….”If it weren’t for our emotions, reason wouldn’t exist at all.”

What’s even crazier is to consider whether or not we consciously make decisions at all.  Consider the following passage from Steven Pinker, author of  The Stuff of Thought and professor of evolutionary psychology at Harvard:

“Another startling conclusion from the science of consciousness is that the intuitive feeling we have that there’s an executive “I” that sits in a control room of our brain, scanning the screens of the muscles, is an illusion.  Consciousness turns out to consist of a maelstrom of events distributed across the brain.  These events compete for attention, and as one process outshouts the others, the brain rationalizes the outcome after the fact and concocts the impression that a single self was in charge all along.”

Those competing interests emanate from our pre-evolutionary limbic brain, and all decisions, no matter how trivial, are filtered through the grid of our lifetime of emotional experiences. The only real “choice” we have in taking control of our own lives is to be ever mindful of the intent we channel in the moment.  When we are not mindful and vigilant, we fall victim to whatever emotion “outshouts the others” which is where most people operate, and frankly, where all of us operate most of the time with a few exceptions. 

Without arguing for exceptions, understanding  this  is how people rise to power and how those who are in power stay in power.  It’s also how great brands are built and how they fall.  It works for big business and small.  And it’s also how I’m going to help you win customers and grow your business.  Contact me and Let’s talk.