By Faye Hawkins, CRO, Unlimited
The holy grail for every marketer is to develop a message that resonates with consumers and becomes ingrained in their minds. But to truly know what makes people tick, we first need to understand how the human brain works.
Neuroscience is increasingly influencing how brands market themselves to customers. This approach makes a lot of sense, considering that most buying decisions are subconscious and brands are increasingly struggling to gain and retain customer attention.
Understanding how the human brain works
Peoples’ brains typically don’t care about the messages that brands spend millions on developing. That said, the quirks of the human brain can result in a marketing campaign succeeding or backfiring.
When it comes to making decisions, our brains work in context. We have many internal needs telling us what to do, but the rest of the decisions are through feeling. Our brains tell us to make informed decisions based on what we feel, and external cues influence us at any given point in different environments. For every decision we make, the brain constantly seeks references to help us build a feeling or action.
All of this takes place for every decision we make, from goal-orientated choices, like buying a new car, to habitual options, such as what to buy for dinner. By understanding this human decision-making process, we can design better comms, experiences and, ultimately, influence choice.
Capitalise on your window of opportunity
Marketers have ‘windows of opportunity’ to shape decision-making. For example, the average person has a two-week window to decide which holiday to book and a three-week window when they buy a new car. Therefore, brands have a specific timeframe to target, influence and sell their products or services.
However, the opportunity to make an impact within that window is minimal. For example, out-of-home advertisers have customers’ attention for 1.4 seconds, while a website only has 50 milliseconds to win a viewer over.
The science of narcissism
Marketers have the challenging task of amplifying the power of the senses to drive human emotions without making people overthink. For example, fast food giants Burger King and McDonald’s use red and yellow branding because those are the colours most likely to evoke comfort, hunger and impulsiveness.
When customers touch products in a physical store, they become more likely to purchase them. When they try items on and see how they look in the mirror, they become emotionally stimulated and even more likely to buy. But how do you apply this same sense of narcissism to a digital environment?
This is where neuroscience comes to the fore. Beauty brands, in particular, have been able to trigger ‘mirror neurons’ that influence human intention. For example, seeing a model apply lipstick can trigger a viewer’s brain to feel or see it on their own lips, and seeing several colours of concealer applied triggers a viewer’s brain to imagine it on their own skin.
What it means to be human-centric
Marketers now have a wide range of innovative technologies and communication tools at their disposal. However, simple things like delivering the wrong message, using a negative tone or not talking to customers as a ‘human’ can quickly put people off a brand.
An excellent example of this is belief bias, which is humans’ natural tendency to reject a notion that sounds extreme or unbelievable even if it has sound evidence and logic. This is critical to marketers as it highlights the importance of realism to a customer. For instance, deals that seem too good to be true can ultimately harm a brand, even if it’s a genuine offer.
Another great example of this is when brands say “sorry,” which immediately triggers consumers to think of the brand in a negative light. Brands that understand behavioural science principles can reframe these messages to start conversations. For example, sending messages at the right time or displaying how simple a product or service is can create compelling, user-centric messages that paint a positive image of their brand.
By tapping into the behavioural biases that influence peoples’ decision-making, marketers can create a framework that simplifies their biggest challenges. Deeper human understanding can help you unlock not just better customer journeys but improved targeting and customer understanding. As a result, you’ll achieve more significant ROI and, ultimately, more enjoyable overall experiences that people will remember.