Archive for Brain Based Content Marketing

Content Marketing Writers: How’s Your Cognitive Fitness?

brain-freedigitalphotos.netWhat’s the most important thing you can do to improve your skills as a writer, blogger, or content marketer? I’m not sure there’s any one right answer, but my vote goes to working on your cognitive fitness.

That’s a term we’re going to be hearing a lot about. I first read about it in Harvard Business Review in a 2007 article called Cognitive Fitness by Roderick Gilkey and Clint Kilts.

Originally coined by Michael Merzenich, cognitive fitness refers to the capacity of a person to meet the intellectual demands of life. It is evident in an ability to:

  • Assimilate information
  • Apply rules of logic
  • Comprehend relationships
  • Detect patterns
  • Identify emotions
  • Create new perspectives
  • Develop reasonable conclusions and plans

If that’s not a job description for the professional content marketing writer, what is?

Brain Coaching for Writers Read More→

Better Content Marketing:
Words and Numbers Matter

Content-MattersAs a psychologist, I’m fascinated by how our brains work. When writing online content, I try to apply neuroscience to understanding why some copy outperforms others. When writing for business, i.e. content marketing, you want to get the words right, so that  your web pages, blogs and e-newsletters get results for your business.

Words matter. Content matters. Sometimes it boils down to just one word or set of words that can make the difference between a customer who reads or one who clicks away. For example, which do you think has more impact:

  1. The surgery has a 95% survival rate
  2. One out of 20 patients die from the procedure

If you are like most people, you would find the second statement far more worrisome even though the odds are the same. Even in today’s marketing world, where we are inundated with images and sounds, words still matter a great deal.

There is a subtle but important difference between “10 percent” and “1 out of every 10.” Roger Dooley cites examples in his book Brainfluence: Read More→

Content Marketing with Blogs: Online Persuasion

Want to know more about online persuasion and how you can write content that gets results? Here’s a quick one minute video promoting my Content Marketing with Blogs ebook.

The e-book formatting and design was done by my son-in-law, expert graphic designer and creative genius, Scott Krakoff. Tell me what you think…

If you haven’t downloaded it yet, be my guest: Content Marketing with Blogs…

Content Marketing: Stories are Key

If you want your content marketing messages to be remembered, you must engage the emotional memories of your readers. Memory formation happens in two ways:

1.  You say or do something that makes an emotional connection.

2.  Something happens that closely resembles a previously established emotional connection.

What results is a neural network of associations that get triggered by a hot-button stimulus. Everything we retain in memory is because it’s gained an emotional place in our brain. At some point, something was important enough because it was emotional. That’s what hot-buttons are… we feel as if someone has poked us.

As a content marketing professional, you have words and visuals in your quiver of tools. How do you poke someone and push their hot buttons?

Stories are key. Negative stories can get people’s attention, but can also leave a negative aftertaste, if not followed by positive stories. I’ve talked about this before, and here’s a graph to illustrate this: Read More→

The Ladder of Emotional Values: Pleasure Reigns

What emotions are people seeking to satisfy online? What can we understand about human motivations and values in order for content marketing to work?

Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs tells us we are motivated to satisfy our basic needs first (food, shelter, clothing), before we seek to obtain satisfaction for social, intellectual and spiritual needs.

A similar hierarchy of emotional values exists. As incoming information from web and blog pages enters the brain and is processed, our emotional centers assign values to offers.

Brain science, along with studies on decision making from behavioral economics, has shown that people often don’t use logical reasoning. Instead they go with their gut reactions. They make decisions based on feelings.

Later, when that leads to a buying decision, people justify their actions with rational logic and intellectual “alibis.”

At the lowest level, people have a desire for security. The next thing they seek is comfort. At the top of the ladder, people will pay the most to satisfy a desire to experience pleasure.

Although these values are all emotional, rationality plays a part. Online, an offer must work properly for consumers to feel secure. A marketing offer also provides comfort through ease of purchase, and also by providing reasons to defend the purchase to friends and family. But rationality is never the deciding factor. Read More→

Content Marketing Tasks: Practice Makes Progress

If you’ve spent your career avoiding certain marketing tasks because you don’t think you’re any good at them, you struggle each time you try, and you end up with weak results, take heart. Persistence has been touted by poets for a reason.

Your brain learns a lot each time you try something, even if you fail. If you stop trying, you’ll walk away with nothing. If you persist, however, the rewards are huge.

Example: public speaking. Many small business owners and entrepreneurs including many of my clients love the chance to get up and speak. The larger the group, the better. In my experience, they are extroverts. They love people and love conversations.

On the other hand, they usually don’t like writing. (Which is why they are my clients… they need content and they need to publish on the web – blogs, e-newsletters, ebooks, etc.)

Other people tend to focus their online marketing on content; they write books and they publish blogs and newsletters… and they hate speaking. They would rather have a root canal than deliver even a 3 minute elevator speech at a networking event.

While you can outsource your written content, especially online, you can’t outsource your speaking. You’ve got to deliver a speech yourself in order to represent your business and get clients.

Make no mistake, there is magic that comes from speaking from the podium. It works like a magnet for drawing people to you, creating credibility and potential working relationships.

You have to persist at things in order to learn them. Writing gets better each time you write, the same goes for blogging, revising web pages, writing sales copy, email promotions. The more you practice the better you are and the easier the task becomes. Here’s an example: Read More→

Basic Human Motivation: 4 Ways to Engage Readers

If you are writing content designed to persuade and influence, you need to know what makes people tick. (photo courtesy of digitalart/

There are universal drives that are common in all human beings, across cultures, across the globe. When you create content that appeals to either of these four basic drives, you can’t help but engage the hearts and minds of readers on a profound level.

We can learn a lot from evolutionary studies. Our brains haven’t changed much, nor have our fundamental motivations.

I suggest a frame work for understanding basic human motivations: the Four Drive Theory, presented by Professors Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Noria in their 2001 book Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices.

There are many theories about what motivates behaviors, but I like this Four Drive theory because it is based on studies of primitive man, primitive societies, and the evolution of brain functioning over the last 100,000 years.

It doesn’t matter if you view humans as being motivated according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, or Freud’s Pleasure/Pain framework, or any other drive theory. What matters for marketing is that you understand basic human drives, and what drives peoples’ behaviors at their most fundamental sources.

This theory doesn’t exclude other theories, but as a framework for marketing, I think it works quite well. Keeping these four things in mind, you can create more effective marketing that reaches the subconscious brains of your consumers. Read More→

Content Marketing that Speaks to the Old Brain

You get better results with your content marketing when you speak to the “old brain,” the one that’s also known as the primitive brain or the survival brain. Knowing how the brain works will help you write better as well as help you with presentations to influence others.

There are a few principles to remember, and here’s a great story that makes this come alive… (photo courtesy Mantas Ruzveltas /

A Marketing Moment with a Homeless Man…

I want to share an excerpt of a story by Patrick Renvoisé, from his book Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Customers’ Brain. He tells the story of how he earned the equivalent of a $960/hour consulting fee from a homeless man…

One evening as I was entering a restaurant in San Francisco, a homeless person stopped me. His sign read, “Homeless. Please HELP.”

The man showed all the signs of distress with sad empty eyes. He looked me directly in the eyes, and I was compelled to hand over a few bucks. However, something led me to go further with this particular man.

Like many of my clients who try to get responses from marketing, his message was weak, and certainly not unique. So I gave him $2 on condition he let me change the message on his sign for at least 2 hours.

The man agreed, and I wrote a different message on the back of his sign. Later, we met up again.

He insisted on giving me $10, because he had made over $60 while I was having dinner. His usual take averaged $2-$10 an hour.

As my entire interaction had lasted only 30 seconds, this eight dollar profit translated into a $960/hour consulting fee, not bad.

All I did was apply what I know about the brain and marketing messages that get people to act.

Here’s what his new cardboard sign said: Read More→

The Homer Simpson Guide to Neuromarketing

Content marketing experts and the people who write marketing messages ought to understand how consumers’ brains work if  they want to engage and create trust and loyalty. The problem lies in assuming people are in charge of their own choices…

Everybody thinks they are in control of their behaviors and decisions. We think we are rational, logical, and smart human beings. But we may not be so smart if we don’t recognize our own and others’ irrationality.

Our behavior and decision-making is affected, 95% of the time, by the unconscious processing in the mid- and lower brains. 95% of our decision making and buying and Web actions are heavily influenced by unconscious processing.

Approximately 85% of the time our brains are on autopilot. But marketers continue to write messages as if people were paying attention.

Market research: in 2005 corporations spent more than $7.3 billion in US alone. In 2007, $12 billion. That doesn’t include marketing, advertising, etc. which carries an additional annual $117 billion tag. Most of this is spent in the wrong places and fails.

Companies and brands are gathering the wrong information, because consumer surveys and focus groups can only report back what they consciously experience …and it’s falsified by biases and flaws. The only true market research comes from monitoring brains of consumers as they react to messages, through neuromarketing.

Almost 8 out of 10 new product launches fail. Could it be that we’ve misunderstood how to capture attention,  emotions and be memorable to consumers? Could it be we assume people are conscious and rational?

Health warnings on cigarette labels actually trigger smoking behaviors, they don’t deter any smoking at all, quite the contrary. Read More→

Neuromarketing Books for Marketing to Brains

If you want to know more about how to write content that makes an impact on the brains of your readers, here are some interesting sites and books about the emerging field of neuromarketing.

There are new neuromarketing companies and books galore, and I believe most offer important clues for content marketers. Here are a few of my favorites: