Marketing News South Africa

Ignore neuroscience at your 2015 marketing campaign's peril

Your marketing is likely missing its mark if you're not including elements of neuroscience, says Colleen Backström, MD of Kaleidoscope response marketing...

On Thursday, 19 February 2015, Backström presented a workshop at the Colosseum Luxury hotel in Century City, focused on practical tips and techniques that guarantee responses you're your marketing efforts. Key among these? Neuroscience. No, it's nothing scary involving brain probes, instead Backström says neuroscience marketing is all about taking the guess work out of marketing as our brains work in a specific way. This is crucial as it's all about knowing how to effectively use marketing to find new clients and sell more to your existing clients in the most cost-effective way.

Why neuroscience is so crucial to email marketing

Ignore neuroscience at your 2015 marketing campaign's peril
© lightwise –

It's the new science of persuasion, the realm of scientists and psychologists so is based on fact, with as much as 95% of our decision making based on emotion and just 5% based on IQ. It's an important distinction because in a focus group you're logical, but when scanning the shelves and actually making your purchase decision you're emotional, so the traditional research methodology is flawed.

It's the study of emotion or choice through neuroscans, to see how the brain actually behaves during decision making. When we're happy, the brain literally lights up. This led to the finding that two of the most powerful turn ons for human beings are sex and food, both of which are essential for our survival.

Brand decision making: Pay attention to what your consumers see, hear, smell and feel

Your brand needs to realise what it looks like to consumers, based on the actual picture you send and the visual storytelling process. Your message will be lacking screen stickiness if you only use words, without images. Backström credits this as the reason for the recent growth and popularity of infographics.

But don't forget the other senses too - when it comes to music, the slower the tempo, the better the sales as it makes consumers feel more relaxed and music is definitely tied to emotion. Just beware of blasting consumers with something scary when they visit your website or click on your email as it can be a turn off if it's unexpected - give them a choice to listen. Smell is also important as it's the only emotion attached to memory as is seen as the most potent sense as it develops before sight. That's why certain stores spray a light, almost subliminal scent in their stores to create a more favourable impression overall. Singapore Airlines is a good example of this, as it's always seen among the top airline brands - the reason?

Stefan Florida Waters, which is the fragrance sprayed in the plane and on the crew as perfume and adds to the overall perception of quality of the brand. Backström warns that simply spraying air freshener in your store won't work and that it's a pity we can't use it in email yet - but it is on the cards, as Samsung is bringing out a phone that incorporates scent sensors.

Ignore neuroscience at your 2015 marketing campaign's peril
© Andres Rodriguez –

Lastly, texture also plays a role, like the quality perception associated with thicker business cards, but how do we translate this online? Backström says with absence of face-to-face communication, brands have to build a sense of trust with their consumers. Some common neuroscience trust cues include the colour blue, large pictures and scenes of nature, according to research from three months ago, but using pictures of food is just as enticing as it has an emotional pull. We also seem to find photos of women more trustworthy than pictures of men. This links to the concept of respect and the need to stop looking at our clients as moneybags. They're actually just like us and don't want to be lied to or have their time wasted. Think of Richard Branson's ideal that to do well, we must do good.

Four magic questions to pinpoint your message's purpose

  1. What does your customer consider most valuable?
  2. What is your customers pain?
  3. What is your most important message to get across?
  4. What would I say if had a billboard advert for a day?

Lastly, also remember that humour can actually be used in each industry to sell a product - nothing is too serious as we are all human at heart.

Most thought-provoking. Backström also shared insights into creating more effective email marketing, which we'll publish tomorrow. Backström's next workshop will be in Johannesburg on 19 March, click here for more.

About Leigh Andrews

Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.
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