The First Rule of Marketing – And How You Trigger the Right Parts of the Customer’s Brain

Understanding how a mechanism works is often an essential key to make that mechanism behave in a specific way. The same goes for marketing. If you want your marketing initiatives to make an impact, your marketing messages must trigger exactly the right mechanisms in the mind of the recipient. One way of achieving this goal could be the simple “trial and error” approach, testing what works (while accepting the risk of spending a lot of money on something that might have the opposite effect), before you eventually stumble upon a method that works. Another approach could be to gain knowledge about how the human mind works – and use this knowledge to direct your messages directly at the right triggers.

One of the key differences between humans and other animals, generally speaking, is the ability to act based on rational thoughts, rather than mostly being controlled by instinct, apparent feelings and urges. If we meet an attractive representative of the opposite sex walking down Main Street, we control our urges, show respect and merely send a longing glance. A dog would have gone directly into contact, sniffing and humping.

To fully understand how the human brain works a brief introduction into anatomy is required. It is difficult to determine precisely when the brain appeared in evolution, but it is certainly not a new invention – in fact most scientists agree that it took its origins around 450 million years ago, before any animals lived on land. Our brain has evolved ever since and today it is a magnificent collection of approximately 20 billion neocortical nerve cell, which have a combined weight of 1400 grams – an impressing piece of machinery, superior to even the most complicated computer. The brain basically consists of three parts, which have not changed much, neither in form nor by function, since they were individually developed. Simplified it can be said that the construction of the brain is similar to the history of an old company, which has started out with a core department and then, as time went by, two other departments have been added. The evolutionary development of this ‘company’ has not been reviewed by a business developer – so layer upon layer have simply been added to the brain, without ever reviewing the functions of the previous ones. The newest addition is the cerebrum which handles the rational and philosophical thoughts – from religious beliefs to reflections upon the surrounding world, etc. The cerebrum is basically what differ humans from other animals – acting thoughtfully rather than on impulses (or at least; so we believe). The second-youngest part of the brain is the diencephalon, which (among other things) controls motor skills and learning – if you put your hand into the fire, you will burn your hand and you will likely have learned not to repeat the experience! The diencephalon also controls grief and happiness. The inner and oldest part of the brain is often referred to as the “reptilian brain” (basal ganglia), which handle the simplest of functions – focusing on you! You and your survival are the only topics of interest for this part of the brain. Contrary to what you might think; the reptilian brain actually controls most of how humans act. The two other parts tell the reptilian brain what they know and feel, but in many cases the reptilian brain controls the end decision – and if it does not sufficiently value the input from the other parts, it simply vetoes and makes the decision on its own. Brain scans show that the reptilian brain makes decisions in two milliseconds and makes you react rapidly to threads – while the rational parts would first need a visual impression, recognize the object, and then decide whether to flee or stay. The latter part of the process alone takes a minimum of 500 milliseconds – and that is a long time when faced with immediate threats (i.e. if a renegade truck is coming right towards you at a high speed).

The first rule of marketing!
As mentioned above, the reptilian brain is the high judge of decision making and it is only concerned with you. So if a salesman wants to communicate with the reptilian brain while selling trucks, it might not be successful to say “I think this truck is the best on the market” – as this part of the customer’s brain simply does not care what you think. Thus it would likely be more successful to say “YOU will find this truck absolutely suiting to YOUR needs”. Most salesmen enjoys talking about their product, but successful salesmen know that the customers basically does not care about anything else than themselves – so the trick is not talking about your product, but getting the customer to talk about himself. Furthermore, the trick to really excite the customer is to serve the arguments on a silver platter – as the reptilian brain screams: “What’s in it for ME?!” So if you want the customer to really participate and make a quick decision: Do not waste time thinking that he will translate a lot of information and observe an objective overview – you should rather use the word “YOU” repeatedly.

Simple choices of black and white
In addition to repeated use of the word “YOU”, it is also motivating for the reptilian brain to present the customer with simple contrasting choices like: “If you buy this truck, the sun will shine, you will never face unscheduled breakdowns, your customers will be happy, your economic stability will be saved and your business will grow – if you choose an inferior brand, you will face unpleasant problems”. A salesman often senses that a customer actually likes the product, but feels insecure and not ready to close the deal – saying, for instance, something like: “I am interested, but I think I will consider my options and wait to see what time will bring”. The persistent salesman might not let the customer off that easily, but rather try to identify the cause of the insecurity, which could be related to the expectations of the future haulage-business – and a response from the salesman could be: “No matter what you think will happen, we are able to accommodate your needs. If you think you will have many haulage-jobs, you should buy a Volvo FH with a full service contract. If you think you will have only a few haulage-jobs, you should buy a Volvo FM with a limited service contract.” – The alternatives are now black and white, easy to comprehend.

Visual stimulation
A third entry to the reptilian brain is visual stimulation. Human language is about 40 thousand years old and the written word is “only” 10 thousand years old. As mentioned earlier, the reptilian brain is about 450 million years old – more than 10000 times the age of our language. So if you really want to communicate with the reptilian brain: Do it via the eyes! If you see a text-sign saying “beware of snakes”, you might consider the risk of snakebites on a rational level, but your reptilian brain will not be acting at all. If you see a picture of a snake that is ready to attack, you are likely to be more alert than when reading the text message. If you see a video (motion picture) of a snake attacking, your reptilian brain will act! The reptilian brain works faster than the rest of the brain and it has the veto-power of decision making – and more than anything; it reacts to visual stimulation. Thus it is likely to have a positive effect on sales if the salesman can show and demonstrate a representative model of the product he wants to sell. If the customer can see it, feel it, hear it, smell it and try it – the sales effort is much more effective than if the salesman is simply telling the customer about the product.

Baby Boomers – Unstoppable Market That is Cashed Up and Ready to Spend!

One of the keys of generating wealth is discovering market trends and market opportunities that can be acted upon. While it is not always important to be the first to discover the wealth making opportunities, it is important to take advantage of them in the best possible ways. One of the largest market segments currently within the US is the Baby Boomer generation.

Baby Boomer is a term that refers to a person born between the years of 1946 -1964. There are approximately 76 million Baby Boomers within the US alone, presenting a tremendous opportunity for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Here are some ideas on how to take advantage of the market:

# Health Care

As this large market segment ages, one of their primary concerns is and will be health care. Access to quality, affordable health care will be a top priority for many Baby Boomers. Working in or starting a business within the health care field is one of the primary ways to profit from the Baby Boomer opportunity. For example, senior care consultants, health care facilities, long term care facilities and wellness centers are possible considerations.

# Health and Fitness

In addition to traditional health care, the Baby Boomer market is also interested in alternative forms of health and nutrition. Supplements, natural solutions and diet considerations tailored for this market segment are viable possibilities to consider for revenue generation. Websites offering this information are also possibilities for generating online revenue from products and services, ads or even affiliate marketing when they provide strong information to the Baby Boomer market.

# Financial Services

As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, one of their primary concerns in addition to health care is financial planning. As individuals are living longer and retiring early, it is more important than ever to protect assets and generate income for the duration of an individual’s life. Businesses within the financial field or insurance field are in demand for this age demographic and anything related to the field presents viable business opportunities.

# Travel

A common hobby for retirees is to travel. Travel services both offline and online are possible considerations for revenue generating ideas to target to this market. In addition to travel related services, travel amenities or even accessories are also possibilities. For example, you may offer special luggage or luggage tags, or even specialized packages that are marketed directly to Baby Boomers.

# Volunteer or Fundraising Possibilities

The Baby Boomer generation is fond of volunteering for a variety of causes. So, products or services that donate money to non-profit causes would be a great consideration. While almost any cause is a great opportunity, selecting the most popular organizations or causes to donate for will allow you to have additional visibility for your business efforts.

Also, travel services that organize volunteer vacations either domestically or abroad could be possibilities. Many Baby Boomers are looking to combine their leisure activities with raising money or doing something for those who are less fortunate.

# Vintage Products

Baby Boomers are often fond of items that remind them of their past, or even the time era of their parents. Selling those exact products or products that resemble those brands is an excellent way to profit from this demographic.

# Teaching

Baby Boomers are considered to be a generation of Do’ers. So, they are more likely to continue learning and trying new things than from other generations. Consider offering classes for scrap booking, learning a foreign language or for cooking, marketed to the Baby Boomer generation. You may be able to do this in local retail stores, or at the local college.

Using Internet Direct Mail To Increase Your Company’s Profits

“I want to sell my company’s products on the Web, but how do I get potential clients to visit my site,” a client asked recently. The answer is a strategy that has proven extremely effective for many different businesses…Internet Direct Mail.

One of the most common mistakes many businesses make is putting up a website and then sitting around biting their nails waiting for people to come. This approach isn’t going to work. If you want people to visit your site, you’ve got to make it happen. And sending an e-mail invitation is one of the best ways to build website traffic and boost your company’s profits.

Of course, sending an e-mail to a random group of people asking them to “please come and visit our site,” isn’t going to work very well either. You need to get your e-mail to the right people and then give those people a reason to visit, or they won’t bother. The most effective way to achieve a high response to an e-mail marketing campaign is to follow these guidelines:

Identify Your Customers. Many companies make the mistake of creating an impressive e-mail marketing campaign and only think about exactly to whom they’re going to send it to at the last minute. Yet, choosing the right customers accounts for approximately 40 percent of the success of any marketing strategy.

Get your message into the right hands by using a mailing list. You can begin with your own in-house list–made up of people who have bought or shown an interest in buying from you in the past, and have specifically requested to receive information. Once you’ve compiled your list the success of your campaign will then depend on how you format your email.

The From Line. Think carefully about how people will react to the e-mail address that will appear in the from line. This address acts as a filtering devise for recipients and many will instantly delete your email if they don’t recognize the person who sent it, or feel that it isn’t legitimate.

The Subject Line. Avoid using the word free or save in the subject line. Many Internet users have spam filter software, which they set to instantly delete any message with these words included. Use short statements that tease the reader similar to those used in traditional printed direct mail.

The Headline. Begin your message with a powerful headline or lead sentence and identify the benefit to recipients right up front.

Offer Incentives. To boost your e-mail’s response rate present a free offer that can only be accepted if the prospect visits your site. Other options include offering the recipient $10 off or a 20% discount, free information such as newsletters and articles, or free shipping. If you can’t think of a free offer (you can) still stress the benefits of your site: money saving ideas, tips or news, links to useful resources etc. Don’t make these offers exclusive to the reader. Instead encourage them to forward the email to friends and colleagues. Try something like this: “Give this special offer to your friends by forwarding them this e-mail now. They’ll be glad you did!”

The Hook. State your offer in the first paragraph and provide an immediate response mechanism. Clicking on a link connected to a web page appeals to Internet users with short attention spans. Another option that works well is to encourage the recipient to pick up the phone and dial a toll-free number. Some companies are now building an online response form into their e-mail messages. These encourage the recipient to fill in their name, address, company, e-mail, phone number and any other information in the blank field and then hit a send button.

The Body. Keep the body text short and conversational. Short paragraphs and wide margins make your email easier to read. At the close of the e-mail provide another link and repeat your offer again.

Include a Call to Action. Make sure your email tells your reader about the benefits of your product or service and gives him enough information to make a decision. Then tell him clearly and simply what you want him to do: visit your web site, sign up for a newsletter, renew a subscription. Finally, get him to act NOW! Because if he doesn’t click on your link right away, he probably never will.

Opt in, Opt Out. The two rules of email marketing are to always mail only to opt-in lists (a database of e-mail addresses that have been willingly submitted as a request to receive information). And to make sure you provide a mechanism for recipients to opt-out. The former is easy–only e-mail to genuine opt-in lists. For the latter include a paragraph at the end of your email that tells the recipient how to opt-out. Never send an e-mail without including an opt-out option. In addition new Can-Spam legislation requires that a physical postal address be included in your mailing. Follow these simple rules because you do not, I repeat, do not want to be labeled a spammer.

HTML versus Plain Text. Deciding whether to use plain text or HTML primarily depends on what you’re selling. For example, if you’re selling clothing or CDs, the graphic format of HTML allows recipients to see pictures of the product and tend to be more captivating. If in doubt offer two lists: one in plain text and the other in HTML. That way you can let your subscribers decide.

What Response Can You Expect. A recent survey of advertisers conducted by the Direct Marketing Association found that e-mail marketing was the strongest (compared to several other forms of advertising) in customer retention, and generated the most online traffic. In addition, research suggests that email marketing typically delivers twice the response rate of paper direct mail at about half the cost.