I’d want to study humans even if I wasn’t one. (Well, monkeys might be fun too, but they are sadly in short supply here in Minnesota.)
For me, figuring out why people do what they do is the most interesting part of the marketing and communications puzzle. And yet, it’s a part that can often be overlooked by companies.
Tasked with managing tactical concerns, watching the bottom line and reporting to the powers that be, sometimes companies forget to ask themselves why…
- Why do people need what their company is offering? (Or, more importantly, why do people THINK they need what they are offering?)
- Why would people choose what their company is offering over that which is offered by someone else?
- Why might people have reservations about choosing their company’s product or service?
An article in this month’s Fast Company called, NeuroFocus Uses Neuromarketing To Hack Your Brain suggests that the answers to these questions lies not within the words the words that people speak, but within the thoughts that people think.
Neuromarkering is the process of using an electroencephalogram (EEG) scanner or other device to analyze people’s deep subconscious brain responses to commercials, products, brands, and messages in hopes of gathering information to inform a marketing, communications or sales approach.
As part of this process, companies that specialize in neuromarkering, like NeuroFocus, (which is profiled in the article) collect a massive amount of input by “recording and analyzing billions of data points during a typical neurological testing project.”
Founder and CEO of NeuroFocus, Pradeep, asserts that this process gives marketers a more accurate sense of what people are thinking than say, focus groups and surveys.
Those old school tools “give an imprecise measure of the conscious mind, of so-called articulated, or self-reported, responses” says Pradeep, “they are fine for eliciting facts, less so for probing into what people really feel.”
Looking beyond the focus group.
While neromarketing has its critics and its limitations, I’m inclined to support any research tool that encourages companies to move beyond the comfort of their focus groups.
While it may seem counterintuitive, the information researchers are beginning to gather from the brain using things like EEGs and fMRIs suggests that there is more going on in people’s minds than they might be able to sit in a focus group and verbalize.
And, on some level, this makes sense. Anyone who has ever thought to themselves, “Why do I love this person, they are horrible for me?” or, “Why do I keep working here, I hate this job?” knows that we are not always the best translators and stewards of our own innermost thoughts and desires.
You don’t necessarily need to conduct fancy brain research to capitalize on this knowledge for your business. Being strategic with your online marketing can also, on some level, give you insight into both what people are saying to and about your company (e.g. their social media engagement) as well as how they are behaving (e.g. their engagement patterns, search habits, and content consumption).
While that information may not totally bridge the saying/doing disconnect as well as a brain scan does, it can give you a greater sense of the nuances in the behavior of your clients or customers so that you can better communicate with them on behalf of your brand.
No matter what tool you use, the lesson here is to reach deeper for your audience understanding. Humans are complex characters, but technology is giving us increasingly sophisticated tools with which to study them. There’s no better time to start taking your research beyond face value and into the mysteries of the mind.