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Marketing Monday, Applying ‘Buy-ology’ for Small Business Entrepreneurs

MarketingMonday750Want to improve the results of your marketing? We want to share some of the findings from the scientific approach to testing marketing, a field called neuromarketing.

Specifically some small business applications to the book Buy-ology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, by Martin Lindstrom. While not his most recent work on the topic, I came across other marketers who recommended this book as a new classic in marketing, and found some great information to share with fellow small business owners and entrepreneurs. We touched on this a little bit before with our blog Mind Tricks to Maximize Marketing Results…

BuyologyCover375One of the main questions this book poses in a nutshell is what determines which of the overwhelming number of ads and promotions makes it into our consciousness and therefore has a high likelihood of resulting in actual sales of a product or service?

Traditional market research like surveys and focus groups do not always reflect demand and emotional reactions to a product accurately. Why? Because our brain processes so much information that often a portion of the decision-making process is in the subconscious, so if you ask the person why they bought from your competitor instead of from you, they may not even know much less be able to share that information.

“…if marketers could uncover what is going on in our brains that makes us choose one brand over another…that would be the key to truly building brands of the future. Which is why I embarked on …a three-year-long, multimillion dollar journey into the worlds of consumers, brands, and science.”
“…I soon came to see that neuromarketing, an intriguing marriage of marketing and science, was the window into the human mind that we’ve long been waiting for, that neuromarketing is the key to unlocking what I call Buyology-the subconscious thoughts feelings, and desires that drive the purchasing decisions we make each and every day of our lives.”

Many of the examples in the book involve large companies or industries along with the detailed science of how the results were found. I recommend this book if you have an interest in learning more about branding and how these results were found. I am sharing just a few of the highlights I believe can benefit small business owners and marketers specifically.

Who moved my product – product placement relevancy

An interesting finding regarding product placement in a TV show or movie is that if the product is not integral to the storyline then as much as if not more than a straight up advertisement. One of the best example of effective product placement is Reese’s Pieces in the classic movie E.T. because it was part of the story it drove sales way up. If you have an opportunity to get your product or service into a show or movie, it is best to make sure it is integral or complimentary to the storyline and not an unneccesary tangent. (Of course if the producers are including it for free, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!)

Buying is contagious!

Lindstrom also discusses what are called mirror neurons, as you likely know when someone near you yawns it often will cause you to yawn. What you might not realize is that even if you read about certain actions like yawning or grasping a pen your brain reacts the same as if you were performing that action yourself.

A couple examples of how to apply this to your small business are to make sure you and your staff present a positive happy demeanor, while it may be common sense to you to smile when working with customers it actually does have scientific evidence behind it to create better results. Another interesting example is for businesses offering a product is to show one of your clients excitedly opening the package to get to the product or set it up. Believe it or not there are entire video sharing websites dedicated to watching others open products, feeling the excitement vicariously through others. (And hopefully creating the desire for them to recreate that themselves after buying your product.)

Creating or tapping into rituals and superstitions

I found it hysterical when Michael (played by Steve Carell) from the US TV show “The Office” says he is not Superstitious, he is just a little ‘stitious’ …but after reading this book I see now that it reflects more than just a funny line. It reflects the truth for many people, outwardly they say they are not superstitious or prone to following rituals but that is often driven by our subconscious minds so many if us don’t realize the extent of our cultural rituals and superstitions and how they affect the buying decision-making process.

A great example of a brand with a ritual are Oreo cookies. Most people will eat Oreo cookies in one of 2 ways … by prying them apart, licking the white frosting center and then eating the wafers…or by dunking a whole cookie into milk and then eating intact. Think about your product or service are there creative ways you can come up with for customers to create a ritual after purchase? Maybe a pairing to something that is already popular? Something that enhances the enjoyment or efficiency of your product or service?

Consumer, come to their senses

Much of the advertising today is focused around one sense – sight. Visuals are everywhere from logos to billboards and banner ads, the neuromarketing research has determined that it is much more effective to engage more than one sense at the same time. Retail stores can try to add a familiar (and positive scent) ideally may spark a childhood memory like using a vanilla scent or a subtle floral scent.

Jingles or music along with a logo can be very effective, a good example of that is Nationwide with their recent ad campaign focused on people hearing or humming their jingle in every aspect of their life.

Sex sells…wait I forgot what product it was selling

There were interesting findings in the area of using sex appeal to sell products and services. It has long been established that sex sells, or does it? While approximately 1/5th or more of ads use sex to sell their products and services, the scientific findings from buyology indicate that most times the sex appeal is a distraction from the product causing less recall of the items being promoted. The ones with the most success typically reach that success due to the controversy associated with the ad campaign. Prompting a wider discussion of the company and product beyond the ad.

The good news for small business is that this also applies to beauty, you don’t need to hire that aspiring model for your advertising, people want to be able to relate to the product. Most products are not geared towards the supermodel target audience, but instead to real people with everyday looks and interesting personalities. As with everything there are exceptions especially if the mirror neurons we mentioned before are involved to convey the feelings involved when using sex or beauty, but again the goal is to connect with your target audience in some way.

Choice Overload – Simplify to Sell More!

“…studies have shown that the more choices we have the less money we spend.”

It sounds counterintuitive but the brain is inundated with so many things that when you make it easier for your potential customer to analyze just a few things the better the chance you have in getting them as a client. While it is good to offer flexibility and a variety of options, target specific products or services to specific audiences and keep it simple to get them in the door so to speak. Then for recurring sales feel free to inform them of a few more of the options you offer, then a few more. Give them some bit sized pieces to help them and grow your relationship.

Lindstrom contends that about 90% of the buying process is subconscious and while this may be true, you don’t need to have a huge budget to analyze the neuromarketing effect of all your decisions. Like any marketing test different things on a smaller scale and see what brings results to your bottom line. Expand the products or marketing that work and keep testing new products and marketing. You may not be able to read their minds, but if you are improving your sales, then you must have engaged their minds in a positive way. Keep up the good work!

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