Your brain is 100,000 years old. You may not wake up in the Savannah of East Africa, grab your spear and walk miles to hunt prey for food. But on your commute to work in traffic, the same stress hormones (cortisol) are surging through your body as you fight traffic to get to your office.
Once there, your senses scan the environment for prey, competitors and allies, and the same goal-seeking behaviors are at play. The male of the species, in particular, is driven to acquire and achieve to protect his family and status.
For women, it’s slightly different, but not entirely. Women tend to the feeding of their offspring and mate, attend to the shelter, and are acutely aware of emotional needs of her family members. She may also fight traffic and go to an office full of stress, competitors and allies. As a female, she multitasks many responsibilities and skillfully uses language and relationships to get things done.
Our brains haven’t changed in 100,000 years. Our world, however, has. Most significant in the last 20 years is our ability to communicate and stay informed on a global level. Marketing is changing along with this world that offers multiple media channels to spread more messages to more people. Content marketing is growing rapidly as a way to connect with consumers who have become adverse to interruptive advertising.
Here’s what I’m reading in an excellent book, The Buying Brain by A.K. Pradeep:
The questions remains, how do we engage with the primal brain – embedded deep within us – in this modern world? How do we soothe and seduce it?
How do we send it messages that are important enough to be noticed and remembered?
How do we stand out from the amazing barrage of sensory stimuli to be the one product or brand that makes sense and is embraced by the brain?
How do we make life easier and more fun for this miracle of nature that’s perpetually on guard?
More importantly, how do we start treating our customers as the smart, evolved people they are?
With respect and dignity, compassion and caring, delivered in a way that invites and engages, but doesn’t over-stimulate or alarm?
The battle for attention wages online, in stores, and continues on billboards and TV. Neuroscientists now have a way to monitor the things that grab consumers’ attention and those that influence buying decisions. Here are a few things they have confirmed:
Remember that the brain can be thought of in terms of its evolutionary development. We have a primitive brain concerned with survival, an emotional brain that links feelings to memories, and a thinking brain that sorts out feelings, links patterns, thoughts, logic, identity and goals.
We also have neurons called “mirror neurons,” because when we see another human doing or feeling something, we also experience those feelings. Our human capacity for empathy is why stories and images connect in a powerful, emotional way with readers.
Your brain is very similar to most other brains. It doesn’t weigh that much or take up that much space. It occupies only 3% of your body in terms of space, but consumes 20% of the body’s energy resources. This explains a lot: your brain must conserve energy stores (glucose). It will take shortcuts anytime possible.
Which is why we operate on automatic pilot much of the time. It takes up too much glucose and time to think things through each time. If we can skip processing in the rational centers of the brain, and just go by our instincts and feelings, we will.
Here are a few things to know about the brain, if you want to create quality content that markets your products and services:
The brain is frustrated by:
- Tasks that take too long to resolve
- Messages that distract or don’t apply
The brain can’t ignore:
- Eye contact, pictures of other humans doing things
- Pleasure/reward images
As little as 70,000 years ago, there were as few as 2,000 mating pairs of humans. Driven to the brink of extinction by severe East African droughts during the years referred to as our evolutionary “bottleneck,” those endangered humans spanned out over hundreds of miles, innovating and adapting to survive.
Eventually their numbers recovered enough for the small isolated tribes to reunite and form larger, supportive and sometimes wary groups, punctuated by dynamism, stasis and equilibrium.
Today, there are 6.6 billion humans on earth (plus a dozen or so in space…)
One billion of those are connected via the World Wide Web.
How many humans do you need to reach? What are your marketing messages doing to reach your clients’ brains? Be kind to them:
No clutter, no complicated requests, simplify, be novel, use images of real people, and offer rewards.