Neuromarketing: Using Your (Customer’s) Brain


I gave birth to a psychology major. Even though her father made her promise to “never try this at home,” it happens from time to time. And more and more, I’ve become interested in psychology — especially the psychology of buying and selling, so I’ve been researching the topic of neuromarketing.

We’re all salespeople, and we’re all consumers, so it make sense to understand the processes our brains go through when we’re being “sold.” There are five distinct stages of what some neuromarketing experts call the “Resistence Curve”:

  1. Rejection
  2. Skepticism
  3. Over-optimism
  4. Realism
  5. Adoption

Our job as marketers is to guide our prospects through each step until they “adopt” the concept (i.e. make a decision to buy). One of the best ways to exacerbate the buying curve (a postitive term for the “resistence curve”), is to use attention-getters, also known as “grabbers.” This marketing technique can significantly speed up the buyer’s decision-making timeline.

You’ve seen grabbers countless times on television commercials, billboards, Internet ads, magazines, newspapers — and anywhere a marketer is attempting to pique the interest of consumers.

A few common grabbers are:

  • Humor — the old “open with a joke” theory, common in speeches and presentations.
  • Mini-dramas — a short act, often contrasting the difference in your consumer’s life without and with your product or service. This is often used in commercial television.
  • Wordplays — good for print or Internet headlines. (Note: The headline of this post is an example of a wordplay as it’s an adaptation of the cliche “Use Your Brain.”)
  • Rhetorical Questions — Used frequently in movie taglines. Think: What if? (“What if the world had a universal remote…that controlled the universe?” from “Click.”)
  • Props — An object that symbolizes your solution to your prospect’s problem.
  • Stories — Stories often elicit an emotional response from prospects as well as build a rapport between the marketer and the consumer.

If you’re interested in learning more about neuromarketing, there are several books on this topic, including Neuromarketing: Understanding the “Buy Button” in Your Customer’s Brain, and I always recommend Sean D’Souza’s website, Psychotactics.

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#1 Rafael Marquez on 11.23.09 at 8:58 am

Interesting concept, how do you think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs influences the resistance curve?

#2 Linda Fulkerson on 11.23.09 at 10:11 am

@Rafael — Maslow stated, “Man is a perpetually wanting animal.” Therefore, to apply his theory to the resistance curve, we marketers must determine which of the consumer’s needs is not being met (i.e. what he “wants”) and focus our attention grabbers toward fulfilling that need.

Of course, Maslow’s Theory is just one tool in the marketing toolbox, so don’t get too hung up on this if it’s something you don’t understand. The key is to know your market well enough to “get” the problems they are facing. Show how your product or service eliminates that problem, and you will successfully navigate the resistance curve no matter which method you use.

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