Archive for neuromarketing

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→

Online Persuasion: Seeing Through the Eyes of Customers

There’s an important shift in content marketing tactics that affects professionals who want to get found, get known and get clients online. And that shift means a different mindset.

Not too long ago I came across a great blog post. There was a picture of a pair of glasses lying on a bench with this caption: Don’t you wish you could see through your customers’ glasses?

What if you could live in their shoes for a day? Or, track their brains as they go online to your website? What makes them click? What makes them take action?

Here’s where you should start thinking a little differently when writing content for the Web:

Smart content marketers are using persuasion tactics that appeal to emotions rather than reasons. They know that emotions not only guide our decisions and actions, they determine whether or not we buy. 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 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:

Neuromarketing Research: 3 Keys that Trigger a Buying Decision

The study of the buying decision process, or neuromarketing, has had a tremendous impact on content marketing.

More brands are being studied in laboratories around the world as consumers are being hooked up to brain imaging machines, fMRIEEG and other devices so that they are monitored while they read marketing messages and make decisions.

Neuromarketing is extremely expensive market research to do, but fortunately most brains work the same, with some exceptions for age and gender. So the results acquired for companies with big budgets are showing us how to create messages that have a powerful impact on the brains of all consumers.

Neuromarketing research studies have shown that these three factors determine whether or not a consumer is inclined to make a buying decision:

  1. The degree of ATTENTION
  2. Whether or not there is emotional ENGAGEMENT
  3. How easily the message and the brand is encoded to MEMORY

Attention, emotional engagement, memory: 3 keys to priming the brains of your audience to buy or take the action you want. (Source: The Buying Brain, A.K. Pradeep, CEO of NeuroFocus) Read More→

“WIIFM”? Neuromarketing Improves Your Odds

Every time I read about a new neuromarketing study, it seems they’re only confirming what copywriters and marketers knew all along: to get readers to take action, you must address the “what’s in it for me” filter in consumers’ minds.  Easy, right?  Well…

Although we can’t directly cause people to do something, we can use knowledge of the brain to improve our chances of influencing their buying decisions. We can write better content because we understand how consumers make decisions.

We know more about the subconscious functions than ever before. We know what kinds of messages reach the emotional brain and the old brain, even though consumers aren’t aware of their influence. More importantly, we now understand that much of our decision making goes on in the old brain, out of conscious awareness.

Neuromarketing and science can help improve your content writing so that it has more of an impact on people in your target audience.

I just love this site: SalesBrain, a neuromarketing company. Founded by Christophe Morin and Patrick Renvoise, authors of Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Button Inside Your Customers’ Brains. The company does sales training using neuroscience as it applies to what influences buying decisions.

I recommend you visit the site, as it is clear and easy to navigate to find great information about buying decisions. I found the page on 6 ways to stimulate the old brain especially illuminating.

Here’s an excerpt from

The ‘Old Brain’ is Self-Centered

The ‘Old Brain’ is a very self-centered entity and general considerations about others do not reach it. Think of it as the center of ME. Do not assume that it has any patience or empathy for anything that does not immediately concern its survival and well-being.

The ‘Old Brain’ Seeks Contrast

Before/after, with/without, slow/fast all allow the Old Brain to decide. Contrast is a safe decision engine. It allows quick and safe decisions. Without contrast, it enters a state of confusion, which ultimately results in delaying decision.

The ‘Old Brain’ is Tangible

Numbers work for the neo-cortex, but the ‘Old Brain’ won’t decide based on numbers alone! It is constantly scanning for what is familiar and friendly, what can be recognized quickly, what is tangible and immutable. It cannot process concepts like “flexible solution”, “integrated approach”, or “scalable architecture” without efforts and doubts.

The ‘Old Brain’ Remembers Beginning and End

It forgets most everything in the middle. This short attention span has huge implications on how to construct and deliver powerful messages. Placing the most important content at the beginning is a must, and repeating it at the end an imperative. Keep in mind that anything you say in the middle of your delivery will be mostly overlooked.

The ‘Old Brain’ is Visual

Neuroscience demonstrates that when you see something that looks like a snake, you react even before the conscious mind physically recognizes it’s a snake. This implies that visual processing enters the ‘Old Brain’ first which can lead to very fast and effective connection to the true decision-maker.

The ‘Old Brain’ Responds to Emotion

Neuroscience has clearly demonstrated that ’emotional cocktails’ create chemical reactions that directly impact the way we memorize and act.

What do you think about this? Makes sense to me.

How will you apply it to your content marketing?


Memory + Emotional Attention = Content Marketing

How do you write good blog posts that connect emotionally with readers and turn them into loyal fans? Oh, heck, that’s easy. All you have to do is:

  1. Grab their attention
  2. Get them emotionally engaged
  3. Make a memorable impact

There you go, right? Easy-peasy. This is what you need to do whenever you write any content designed to market your products and services. Attention, emotions, memory.

Neuroscientists are now showing that the two most important elements of persuasion are emotional engagement and memory. Of course you can’t get either of these unless your marketing messages gain readers’ attention first.

Why this is so important? We’ll go into how to do it another day, since this involves quite  number of suggestions and tips.

These three goals for your content marketing are required if you want to write stuff that is effective to attract prospects, and get them interested and primed for making a purchase or other desired action.

This information comes from research on neuromarketing and what makes people buy. If you’re interested in learning more about the brain from a marketer’s viewpoint, I recommend The Buying Brain and Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brains. Read More→