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    Neuromarketing: How Does The Brain React To Marketing?

    Neuromarketing

    Very few consumers like advertising. However, most of them do enjoy watching adverts. Well, good adverts. But what is it about marketing that captures the attention of customers and drives them to make a purchase?

    Intense research into the mind has enabled neuroscientists to understand more about how the brain works. And the advertising sector is sitting up and taking notice.

    How people think and feel has an impact on their purchasing decisions. Fortune 500 brands have taken an interest into the minds of consumers since at least the 1950’s. Politicians have been influencing how people think and feel for thousands of years (ever heard of Trump?).

    Thanks to the internet, information about the mind is filtering out to a broader audience, and marketers from businesses of all sizes are taking an active interest in neuromarketing.

    Most marketers already know that you have to appeal to the emotions of your audience. This is useful to know, but it doesn’t always help advertisers grasp how to appeal to the emotional state of your audience.

    Neuromarketing does.

    Researchers have discovered that most purchasing decisions are made in the reptilian region of the brain. This is the least evolved part of the brain and is mostly responsible for the survival instincts of mankind.

    The key point to note here is that survival instincts are not only physical, they are emotional states as well. This is why people feel compelled to do something that makes them feel good like eat “comfort food.” Humans need an emotional stimulus.

    However, emotions are often in a state of flux throughout the day. It is impossible for marketers to convince consumers to buy at any given moment. This is where a knowledge of neuromarketing is significant.

    Memory: People Forget 90% of What You Tell Them

    Although the brain is a powerful supercomputer, we are prone to forgetfulness. The reason for this is because the neural networks in the brain dissolve information we do not deem useful at any given moment.

    Memory is strengthened by repetition. Because we are habitual creatures, the memory only retains information that aligns with our interests and experiences. However, we are able to recall memories fairly easily even if they are sometimes a little vague.

     

    Research conducted on the ‘forgetting curve’ found that people will forget an average of 50% of information they take in within the hour. After 24 hours the brain has dissolved 70 percent of the information, and after a week, most people will only remember about 10%.

    The reason for this is because the brain is flooded with sensory information. In order to prevent a system overload, the brain suppresses irrelevant information so that we can concentrate on more important snippets.

    Although the brain will purge 90% of the information it absorbs, it does retain all of it in the subconscious – and the subconscious has an impact on emotions. Furthermore, emotions are linked with thoughts and experiences. This is what marketers should be focusing on.

    Visual Marketing

    Around two-thirds of the information that filters into the brain comes from vision. Furthermore, neuroscientists have discovered that people remember more information from visual cues than any other format.

    Researchers discovered that at least 65% of people are visual learners and can remember more than 2000 images with an accuracy rate of 90% or more.

    Words are abstract and more difficult for the brain to compute and retain. Visuals on the other hand are concrete and easier to remember. Not only that, but visual content in marketing is easier to recall.

    In short, our brains are designed for looking.

    Because the brain is so responsive to pictures and visual information, it is the best way for marketers to communicate with consumers. Colour is arguably the strongest weapon in your arsenal.

    A study conducted by Berkeley University in 2009 showed that certain colours have a relationship with moods and opinions.

    Blues and greens are often used by medical companies because they are associated with health and well-being. Reds and yellows are used by fast-food chains because they promote a feeling of immediacy.

    Have you ever been drawn to a product in the supermarket because you like the packaging? Of course you have. That’s how the brain works.

    In today’s marketing landscape, colour psychology is prominent in logos, marketing designs and packaging. The trick in neuromarketing is to combine the right colours with the right images.

    Movement is another way to grab the attention of consumers. You will probably have experienced this on numerous occasions yourself. When you see something flash out of the corner of your eye, you are naturally drawn to it.

    There are many specific reasons why people respond to visuals that can be scientifically proven, but the simple fact of the matter is that our brains need stimulation – and it is simple ideas that are easy to process that have the most positive effects.

    Matching Mental Models

    One of the first things we focus on when we are born are faces. Neuroscientists think this is because the brain is hardwired to recognise faces. It is known as the fusiform face area.

    In marketing, faces have been proven to capture attention among visual clutter, build familiarity and trust between consumers and brands, and most importantly, make people feel something.

    Yes, faces promote emotional cues. Researchers think this is because we naturally empathise with each other and take an emotional interest in people more than we do in objects.

    Price Perception

    Price is naturally a consideration consumers take into account when making a purchasing decision. In a time when consumer perception is focused on value for money, the product pricing plays a significant role.

    The brain not only registers an actual price tag. The perceived value of a product can be determined by how the price tag looks.

    Price perception

    A study published by the Journal of Consumer Psychology discovered that prices with punctuation, decimals and syllables appear to be higher in the minds of consumers.

    For example, $2,999 looks like a bigger number than $2999. Researchers also found another reason: prices are perceived to be higher when they have more syllables in them because the auditory representation stores the magnitude of the price and makes the brain think it appears higher.

    When you include a comma, $2,999 reads as two-thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine. If you drop the comma, consumers read the price as two, nine, nine, nine.

    Money symbols can also prompt behavioural patterns. You may have noticed restaurants omit the price prefix on their menus. Rather than using a price symbol ($19), the cost is given as 19 in order to minimise the money aspect.


    The mind works in mysterious ways. But essentially people are creatures of habit. If you understand how the mind works and incorporate that knowledge into your marketing campaigns, you should find your ad content is more persuasive.

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    The sharing of Self: Social Media, Dating Apps and the Tattoo experiment

    presentation of self smollet

    Social media, one of the newest forms of interaction in a world rapidly moving into the digital universe. There’s Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and all their integrations with dating apps like Tinder & Co., more or less popular.
    Every day, millions of different souls across the world connect impressions of one another and create new conversations. The digital kingdom is filled with messages, photographs and videos. Each image is posed, filtered, curated and assessed before being loaded online, no matter if they are uploaded by a girl or a guy, a man or a woman… Well, except my mum, and probably yours, they don’t edit their photos before posting.

    Digital impressions are made every single day

    Some are made for friends, others for online fans and others for people we want to catch the attention of. Sometimes photos are loaded to attract potential partners or dates. I have taken part to this game of course, checking out Instagram to see what my friends are doing, hunting through Pinterest for new tattoo ideas or scrolling endless Facebook timelines, until I finally left FB a while ago. I’ve even loaded photos of myself on Tinder and other the dating apps.

    In particular, on Tinder, I uploaded a photograph of myself showing my tattoo… Well actually a photo of the tattoo only, and this photo doubled the interest I received so far on the app. This made me question our digital world. How did we date or keep our connections alive before we had an online playground? Does the ability to connect with strangers make us easily replaceable when the next new interest comes along? And how do we manage impressions in order to create an idealized version of ourselves? (Check my piece about dating app interactions)

    The presentation of self

    Social researcher Erving Goffman once explained that we manage what we show to others very carefully, we analyze every single detail about what we are about to post or say publicly. Social media enhances our ability to shape impressions, allowing us to create an online persona which we can both edit and curate. In other words, we love to choose how we show ourselves to others, and clearly social media have made this easily manageable!

    If we really want to stand out, however, we have to make ourselves relevant. What we share never occurs in a social vacuum. We’re always communicating a message. And this message connects to a larger world. What we share on social media often links to the images we wish to create for ourselves. We use our online presence to tell a story.

    What enables us to decide our interactions? Social media is different to everyday life situations because we are able to select the images we present. By adding a selected range of photos (that are often filtered and edited) we are able to manage the impressions we give others. Goffman would say we are provided with the opportunity for performance.

    Performances are connected to the times we live in. As an individual who placed an image of myself with a tattoo on Tinder, I did so believing that my image would be interpreted according to the social thoughts or beliefs which exist at the moment. So what did my tattoo say about me, and why did I receive such a great response?

    Tattoos as a form of communication

    Kirby Farrell wrote in Psychology Today that as human beings we use tattoos to communicate a message. Although humans have been using inks as a form of communication for over 5000 years, tattoos are considered to be especially relevant in current times. Tattoos represent youth, adventure and forward thinking. They may represent a move towards independence or a right of passage. People who use tattoos may seem hungry for life. Tattoos emphasize the present and the beliefs the owner holds (and shares) in the present moment.

    Tattoos grab attention, both in real life and on social media. This creates a feeling of importance or relevance. The more people notice you, the more important you seem to be. Tattoos give us a way of commanding attention. Displaying them on social media makes us larger than in real life. We gain status and a sense of power. These feelings are socially relevant and signify who we are and what we are representing, both to ourselves and to others.

    Tattoos are intriguing. A while ago tattoos were seen to be stigmatized, and academics sometimes wrote articles exploring this stigma. Now, however, tattoos are trendy and cool. They also tell a story. Did you choose a skull, a butterfly or “I love you mum”? Where did you place your tattoo? Is it a sign of rebellion or patriotism? What size did you choose?

    Tattoos are an expression of individuality. Our society currently appreciates and endorses ‘the individual’. Showing who you are has become increasingly relevant (sometimes it also became a job) in this new digital world. Therefore, using a tattoo to show a sense of uniqueness has a social value. Tattoos are a form of self-expression. As a result, we believe the owners of these tattoos are more individual or unique.

    What don’t we share?

    I could understand that my tattoo was sending out a message. This was what I intended after all. It shares a great deal about me. However, it also conceals a lot. There are messages behind that tattoo that I don’t share. In some ways, it provides an excellent distraction. I’m becoming an avid reader, and maybe, sometimes, a writer… But what if I am shy? What if I sometimes feel awkward in social situations? None of this has been portrayed in my cool photos. In other words, my image is simply a part of me, but not me.

    By using my tattoo, along with other images, I was creating a social persona. Based on the times we live in, I received an excellent response. In every image we curate or produce, there is constant communication between who we are, what we find attractive, and the social roles we perform by placing our images online. This images, like fashion and makeup styles, will change according to the times.

    You might ask whether I want to show myself completely? Am I interested in showing more than my interests, the highlights of my life or the messages I choose to put forward? My tendency to hide behind a carefully selected image might be exaggerated online, but intimacy takes time. And believe me, even when sharing in person, in the real world, we closely monitor how much we show to others.

    Social media makes you sad.

    And yet, despite the fact that relationships take time, our carefully monitored and edited personas have an impact both on ourselves and on others. Social media sites such as Facebook or Instagram sometimes make us sad. Seeing other people sharing sunny holiday photos can be depressing when you’re shut inside on a freezing cold day (unless you are with your other half). If you’ve just been fighting with your partner, it makes sense that “full of love” photographs will leave you longing for the ideal love. When we compare the realities of our own lives to the highlights shared by others, we often feel inadequate.

    If, as Brene Brown shares, empathy is the glue that keeps us connected, we sometimes lose out when we believe that those around us are having an awesome time. As a result, we sometimes feel alienated or inadequate. When we present ourselves as a persona, we often worry what others would really think of us.

    People may love and respond to my “supposed brave” tattoo. They can enjoy the story I have created for myself. I love it too, which is why I presented it in this way. And this image may even play a role in my destiny. They might help me to shape new relationships and share new experiences. The responses I received online were both memorable and thought-provoking. I was both flattered and intrigued.
    I’m now left with one question: how much do we let ourselves communicate when we decide to show some skin?

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    Swiping Right or Left? Has Tinder Made People Replaceable?

    If we go back in time – to the early days of online dating, not only was there a negative stigma attached to using dating websites but the user ‘pool’ was much smaller than it is today.

    Because of that, people received less messages than they do nowadays. This wasn’t a bad thing though because people took their messages more seriously. Their attention span wasn’t divided through a million people and a million apps like it is today. According to a study put together by Telefonica, Yahoo and Google, people nowadays receive, on average, 63.5 notifications per day.

    People had less choice, and were more serious about finding a potential partner. The only problem was, online dating was seen as ‘creepy’ and ‘uncool,’ and therefore, nobody admitted to their friends or family that they used online dating sites, in fear of being judged.

    Dating sites were viewed as a place for ‘losers,’ ugly people, and for middle-aged divorcees that had run out of hope.

    But my idea is that dating applications were much better than they are now because people that used online dating sites back then were far more responsive and serious. They read the messages, and they had time to reflect on each person. And then it all started to change. Now we’re all tooooo ‘busy.’

    The biggest development we’ve seen in recent years, is the arrival of plenty of mobile apps, first of all Tinder, giving us access to opportunities that were previously unavailable (at the click of our fingers), it’s no surprise how this has influenced mass change in our society.

    Tinder made us ‘disposable’

    Due to the sheer volume of opportunities that dating apps now offer, people are much more ‘disposable’ than they have ever been. But if we stop and think for 5 seconds, we immediately realise that, in a real-life situation, it would be very unrealistic to approach 100 people in one day if you were at a bar or to have 100 people approaching you.

    Yet nowadays, through online dating, we can. Tinder has made it possible to reach out to as many people as our fingers will allow. And often, people are sending out so many messages out daily, that they’re juggling multiple conversations with multiple people, and it can be difficult to emotionally connect with someone through an app, particularly when your attention is divided so scarcely.

    If someone doesn’t ‘deem’ (whatever that means) a conversation to be going well, they tend to “unmatch” or block the person they’re chatting to, and ‘move on’. Apps and the huge volume of opportunities available make it easy to ‘switch off,’ and move quickly onto the next person, because there’s no emotional connection, and it’s easy to forget that there’s a human being on the other side.

    Have we forgotten this small detail? And have they forgotten, that WE’RE on the other side of the phone, too? Maybe yes…

    Keyboard (or display) courage…

    A widely-known benefit of using online dating apps, for most people, is being stuck behind is a screen, or a keyboard, which gives them more ‘confidence.’ But, isn’t it fake confidence???

    Not only would it take a considerable amount of time to approach 100 people in a bar, but it also requires a great deal of confidence that a lot of people don’t seem have these days. What’s interesting though, is that before online dating, people managed anyway, regardless of their confidence levels.

    If they didn’t manage, I wouldn’t be here, writing this article right now. So do we really need online dating? Organic romance was the only romance that existed, and in some ways, through the big ease and accessibility that apps give us, we’ve grown less confident, and we’ve fallen into a self-perpetuating cycle, or a catch 22.

    Why talk to Jane or Bob at the bar, when you can send ten people a message on Tinder, instead?

    As we take less organic risks, and as we exercise those neural-pathways less often, we grow less confident and less strong at communicating with each other as time goes by, particularly when we’re railroaded with social media that makes us feel insecure, and feel bad about ourselves.

    And, can you really judge a book by its cover? Can a nicely taken, filtered Instagram pose and a black and white bio gives you the right evidence to make an accurate judgement as to whether this person could be your future soulmate, or not? How many times have you got excited, been on a date, and realised that there’s no spark?

    ‘Instant Gratification Nation’ is the world we live in.

    I’ve met people on dating sites that wanted to talk for weeks before meeting, and it was easy for that conversation to fade out. And if I did meet them, I quickly discovered that they weren’t right for me. And what a lot of time wasted in the process.

    However, imagine if I’d have met that person at a bar. Would I have asked for their phone number? Probably not. And if I did, they might have met up with me quicker, because that initial trust and rapport was there. I don’t think you can truly create the same effect through an app.

    Tinder Conversion Rate, Sex hunters and Cheating…

    Scientists have put together hundreds of studies over the years on how to maximise online dating results, and one of those studies is that if people post photos of themselves having fun or smiling, then their results increase dramatically. But isn’t that artificial? Can you really judge someone because they changed their photo? Isn’t it unconscious manipulation?

    And let’s not forget about the amount of married people on dating sites who exploit these opportunities in order to cheat on their partners. Online dating makes that easier for them. And if there is a breakup, it’s so much easier to ignore our emotions, bury our heads in the sand, and quickly get back on that Tinder dating roulette.

    Simply having access and the opportunity at the click of our fingers makes this easier than it used to be, and, theoretically, more discrete.

    Another interesting subject is ‘ghosting’ and ‘catfishing.’ Not only it is easy to lie about who you are and upload younger photos of yourself, or photos of a different person, but it’s also easy to forget that there’s a human being on the other side with emotions. “Blocking” or “un-matching” them, is certainly easier than telling people that you’re not interested.

    Have we left our morals behind in online dating? Another thing is, lots of men and women use online dating sites specifically to find sex, (and I’ve obviously be one of them) although they may pretend that they’re ‘looking for a relationship.’ And when things get too serious, they’ll say ‘I’m not really ready for a relationship.’ Have we become dishonest? Have we become ruthless cowards? Would these people ignore or blank us if we were standing right in front of them?

    My view is that if you really want to find love, you should put your eggs in multiple baskets, and not just rely on online dating. Ask that person that works in your local cafe out on a date. Take a risk. Approach people when you’re out and about. And ping a few messages here and there on your favourite online dating app.

    But don’t get complacent with one method, and never stop taking risks and putting yourself out of your comfort zone, because you just don’t know what you might be missing out on. Also, I believe in ethical dating. Treat people with respect, be honest, and ONLY message people you are truly interested in getting to know, because otherwise, it’s a waste of your time, and theirs.

    You can not look for love…

    I can hear you…

    “Let’s not forget that dating apps have worked for some people, and created some truly happy couples, marriage and children, so they’re not all bad!”

    True… But I often think these situations are pure good luck. It’s luck of the draw, and there’s no guarantee. Love is the one thing you can’t guarantee, and no app will change that.

    On the flip side though, you have to be ‘in it to win it,’ right?

    After all, love is something that just happens, and you can’t guarantee if and when it happens, if ever. Often, it’s when you’re not looking that it hits you right out of the blue, when you’re not expecting it. So is online dating counter-productive? Is this search making us not find love?
    It happened to me to find love on Tinder. I really did find it, but I wasn’t looking for it, and she wasn’t either… what were we looking for? I don’t really know, what matters is that we found each other, just to get lost 1 year later… So I do believe this is possible, but very often we see so many ‘happy’ couples that have met through online dating sites, that are not really happy? Don’t forget, that it’s so easy for people to pretend through social media that they’re. Maybe they’re lonely and desperate, and they feel that being in ANY relationship is better than none.

    We should learn to be comfortable with being alone. If we work on ourselves and enjoy life, love will come when we’re not expecting it.

    Sure, there are some genuine, amazing and attractive people on dating sites. And you might just meet them, and it could go to plan. But don’t forget that some of the most beautiful, fascinating and attractive people aren’t, and I am going to be one of them (not to say I’m beautiful and fascinating, but just saying it’s time to leave it for real). The only way to find those people is to go back to the old way. So work on your confidence, and go out and find them. And if you are going to use online dating sites, be honest on your profile.

    Don’t lie about who you are. Don’t try and oversell yourself, because it’s better to have someone reply to you who has read and seen the real you. At least that way, no one gets disappointed down the line.

    And we don’t want that, do we? How many “swipes” do we still need to go through? How many people do we have to un-match or block? And how many times will we still be blocked or un-matched? And finally, how many times do we still have to read or answer 2 of the most boring questions ever asked… “Hey… How are you?” and “How was your weekend?”

     

    And if I didn’t bother you enough, and you still want to stick to Tinder, here there is a list of interesting stats coming from it, which will maybe help you increase your ‘conversion rate’ 😉

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    Colors And Design in Marketing: do we buy looking at the Brand’s colors?

    marketing colors

    When I was working for Coca-Cola in Italy, I learned a valuable marketing lesson; colour and design affects people’s purchasing decisions.

    Coca-Cola had just launched Fanta Zero, a new product to expand the company’s line of no-sugar drinks. Coke-zero and Sprite-zero performed well in the market. As Fanta was also popular, we automatically expected Fanta-zero would too. It didn’t. At least not at first.

    The original label and marketing designs for Fanta-zero featured a blue Fanta logo over a grey label. Sales were poor and, to us, it appeared as though consumers were not enjoying the drink.

    Consequently, the marketing department decided to change the colour of the label. The new design featured an electric blue background and a super-bright orange logo. Sales increased by 35%. In that moment, I understood how colour and design in marketing could affect how people perceive merchandise.

    Colour communicates with the subconscious mind.

    Colour association

    The average consumer may not be consciously aware of the effect colour has on them when they visit a website, read a brochure or visit a social media website. Marketers and designers, on the other hand, understand the role of colour and consistently use the same shades across all advertising channels.

    Scientific research revealed that colour has the power to attract consumers because we make buying decisions based on personal preference, experiences, upbringings and cultural differences. According to data, 90% of snap decisions are made on colour alone.

    You probably know this from experience. When you’re in the supermarket buying pasta let’s say, which brand do you go for? For most people, all pasta tastes the same. Unless you are familiar with a particular brand name you trust, you will probably opt for the packet you like the look of.

    When cross-border trading, international businesses often change the colours of their marketing material to fit the sensibilities of the target market. Colour can vary from one culture to the next. There can also be colour discrimination between rival sports clubs and Universities. Consumers will not buy red if their team play in blue.

    The simple truth is that people associate with colours. Every experience we have in life is recorded in the subconscious mind and we make a decision what we like and what we don’t like. Because there are a spectrum of colours all around us, we also associate dominant colours with certain experiences which are also promote thoughts and moods. This is how colour persuades consumers to buy.

    How colours impact the mind

    There is a school of thought amongst marketers that colours effect mood. While this is true to an extent, colours prompt memories which promote thoughts. Every thought we have has an associated emotion which makes us feel a particular way.

    colors in marketing

    For example, in colour psychology, green is typically associated with a sense of being calm. The reason for this is because we typically feel in a relaxed mood when we are out in nature. Light blue is associated with a peaceful sky on a nice day and promotes the same feeling of inner peace and contentment.

    Red, on the other hand, is associated with danger and warning. Red, therefore, stimulates the emotional centre of the brain, because the mind knows we are not in danger, the response is excitement or the urge to act on impulse. This is why fast-food chains use red in their logos and advertising.

    You may have noticed that industries tend to align with certain colours and designs. Navy blue is associated with trust and often (ironically) used by banks and insurance companies. Toy stores use bright colours that excite children, whilst stores that sell outdoor equipment go with the colours of nature.

    Furthermore, colours are not only restricted to logos, websites and marketing material. The colour in which businesses paint their store front and interior walls help to create an ambience. Similarly, products are made in specific colours because they are eye-catching or evoke emotions.

    Color psychology of branding

    When neuroscientists at Warwick Business School monitored brain activity using fMRI scans, they discovered people remember certain designs over others. Platonic solids found in sacred geometry are the most recognised because the brain finds symmetry more appealing. This is why the logos of Fortune 500 companies incorporate sacred geometry.

    Marketers that are aware of colour psychology and the effect design has on consumers understand that the more references you connect with your brand, the more likely people are to remember your company. The mind recalls images easier when there is a connection they recognise.

    marketing colors

    When we reverted back to colours consumers associated with as the design for the Fanta label, sales increased because people associated those particular colours with the drink. Brand recognition plays a major role in purchasing decisions because brands can provoke a sense of trust (or mistrust).

    Companies should, therefore, choose colours and designs that support brand personality. Determine what type of character you want to portray and choose colours that reflect the nature of your brand personality and product. Luxury brands typically use gold or silver with black. Purple promotes sophistication whilst yellow promotes happiness and vitality because of its association with the sun.

    Using colour and design in marketing campaigns

    The standard rule of colour psychology in marketing is to consistently use the same colours as your logo because that is what people recognise and associate with your brand. However, your brand colours do not always have to dominate the ad.

    People relate to colours by association. They also react to colours because of an emotional stimulation. When creating marketing ads therefore the dominant colour you use should give context to the product or service you are promoting.

    Ad designs can be categorised into two system; rational and instinctual. Brands looking to acquire new customers or sell long-lasting products perform better when they promote rational thinking. In this system, consumers consider the reasons why they should buy a product from a specific brand.

    When trying to evoke instinctive reactions, ad designs should reduce the cognitive process and communicate to consumers on a non-conscious level. This system makes people feel drawn to your ad or product. The strategy of the design is largely image-based and should use colours consumers mostly associate with the product on an emotional level.

    Images and colours promote emotions in association with experiences. Therefore, the colours and designs you choose for your brand should reflect the experience your customers will associate with your product and brand.

    What are your thoughts and experiences with colour and design in marketing? Have you noticed an increase in sales after changing a colour?

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    Missed opportunity Factor – What is it?

    Consumers have ample choices. In a world where we are told more choices is a good thing, you would think shoppers have no cause for complaint. Yet, the reality is that too many choices leave consumers confused and mentally exhausted.

    Furthermore, studies show that people are less inclined to make a purchase when presented with too many options. The human brain is wired to worry about making the wrong choice and the expectation in today’s world of consumerism is “there might be a better opportunity elsewhere“.

    Psychologists and economics have discovered that option overload paralyzes the decision-making process, because the brain comes under too much stress. Consumerism has reached a point where too many choices is counter-productive and subsequently damages a brand’s profit margins.

    When people are presented with too many options, they are less likely to make a purchase. The assumption here is the risk of making the wrong choice is higher. You will probably know from experience that shopping can be overwhelming.

    How many times have you found yourself staring at a shelf in the supermarket… with a blank mind… unable to make a decision…?

    You are not alone. 😉

    A paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has become famous for revealing that when shoppers are given too many choices, people choose not to buy anything.

    The study, conducted by social psychologist Sheena Lyengar of Columbia University Business School and a professor of psychology at Stanford, Mark Lepper, shows the downside of having excessive choices.

    The experiment involved giving shoppers samples of jam. One section had an assortment of 24 jams while a smaller section had just six. Interestingly, 60% of shoppers veered towards the larger assortment of 24 jams because there were more choices.

    However, from a business point of view, the statistic to note is that out of that 60%, only 3% made a purchase. In contrast, 30% of shoppers that considered the smaller assortment made a purchase.

     

    Why do consumers not like too many choices?

    One reason given for purchasing paralysis is the missed opportunity factor. Psychologists conclude that when we are faced with too many choices, we become concerned we will make the wrong choice. Rather than feel regret, we stay safe by not committing to a purchase at all.

    The typical cognitive capacity of the human brain can only efficiently handle five options. Any more than that can be overwhelming. Some people stop browsing the shelf after the first five choices.

    For costlier products, competition between brands is so fierce; consumers are aware they are never too far from profiting from a value for money deal. Knowing there may be a better option in the next store triggers an urge to research or bide their time.

    This awareness typically has a knock-on effect known as the ‘ever-changing reference point’. An offer with a new feature driving the bargain suddenly becomes a focal point. And often, it is this reference point that sets a new bar.

    For example, let’s say you are in the market for a new car. You see the Audi A4 offered for $36,000 and think that’s a good deal. But then you see the same car advertised with another dealer for $36,500, but with enticing extras thrown in.

    Suddenly, these extras take priority because you are getting more for your money and the extra features appeal to your sensibilities, even though maybe, you don’t even need those. Once you hit this point, it is difficult to settle for less.

    Purchasing decisions are not just about making the wrong choice. Consumers are afraid of missing out on a better deal.

     

    Marketing in a packed market

    The internet may have given brands more opportunities to sell their products to a wider audience, but the job of marketers has become exceedingly more difficult.

    Research scientist, Benjamin Scheibehenne from the University of Basel in Switzerland, determined the level of information given by a brand can impact a purchasing decision. When presented with information the number of choices we have is not always a factor.

    But providing information is not always enough. A study performed by IBM Institute for Business Value revealed that marketers are pushing out too much information. The modern consumer wants information rather than marketing, but they don’t want too much information.

    So do marketers just have to tell consumers what they want to hear?

    Not exactly. Brands still have to consider their proposition value and deliver on their promise. Otherwise, customer retention drops and trust levels deteriorate.

    What consumers want is the KISS methodology: Keep it simple stupid.

    Research undertaken by marketers have found that ‘decision simplicity’ is the most effective method of persuading consumers to make a purchasing decision and buy the product again.

    What is “decision simplicity”?

    Decision simplicity is the process of providing consumers with enough trustworthy information about a product or service without giving them too much to think about.

    The key factors that make decision simplicity effective fall into three parts:

    1. Provide information consumers will trust
    2. Simplifying the buying process so people have to do less research material to drag through
    3. Publish transparent buying guides

    A study performed by Corporate Executive Board (CEB) discovered brands that simplify the customer’s purchasing path have a model that is “four times stronger than any other marketing strategy for engaging customers.”

    The research paper not only reveals that decision simplicity helps people make a purchasing decision, but increases sales. The figures suggest that a 20 per cent uplift in sales will also result in a 96% increase in customer retention.

    Few firms have grasped the concept of decision simplicity. Apple is the best example of mastering the concept. The iPhone maker offers just one smartphone for each price point. Their competitors have a wider range.

    Apple also adds emphasis on simplicity in the design and features of their products. This makes their iPhone models accessible and enables the Cupertino-based company to persuade their customers to upgrade to the latest model.

    The rationale behind product simplicity is to publish customer-centric ads. Modern marketing has to move beyond appealing to the emotions of consumers and listing benefits. Consumers want to know about the specifics of your brand and your products.

    Online platforms provide consumers with numerous resources to learn about products. Brands should be actively directing them to reviews, product ratings, product-to-product comparisons and opening the virtual doors to customers via live chat-bots and real-time responses on social media.

    To help customers avoid the mental trappings of the missed opportunity factor, brands need to focus on understanding the marketing triggers that help consumers make a purchasing decision.

    Do this and shoppers buy your brand.

    Consumers feel more confident about brands that provide information that distinguishes a product from its competitors. Rather than providing huge chunks of information, be consistent with your message and draw out benefits that differentiate your product.

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    How do marketing and sales funnels work???

    The marketing landscape is definitely changing. I have no doubts or qualms about that. But I do have one (maybe insignificant) complaint to many of you, within the marketing sphere, that refuses to subside: marketers still insist on including gimmicks in sales funnels that attempt to “be persuasive” buy in reality are not really necessary.

    Allow me to give you an example. Recently, I attended a Business Squared presentation in Sydney. The brand/event is aimed at entrepreneurs and marketers looking for proven methods that boost the bottom line.

    The guest speaker – whom attendees pay to hear – is the “expert mentor” Gary Vaynerchuk. But before the audience got to listen to the main event, we had to sit through a string of other so-called “mentors” trying to flog us get-rich-overnight ideas, law of attraction type wealth coaches and executive coaches that probably once read “How To Win Friends And Influence People” and saw an easy career opportunity.

    Fair play to them. Perhaps I am being overly cynical here and these marketing gurus really can change fortunes. But at the time, I couldn’t help feeling somewhat frustrated and deflated. I was not there to hear about products and services I had no interest in.

    Of course, in reality, this is the world of marketing. Businesses create systems with an organised sales funnel. In this particular instance, Vaynerchuk was being supported by speakers that were also targeting an audience of entrepreneurs – thus demonstrated relevancy.

    Because he knew the audience had come to see him, their mindset was already on his product and his personality – his brand. In essence, prospects were already well along the customer journey. Vaynerchuk was trying to leverage preference and secure loyalty towards his brand.

    I’m not saying this as a slight to Vaynerchuk. He was just taking advantage of a situation he probably had no control over anyway. The culprits behind the sales funnel are Business Squared making money from lesser-known speakers that are prepared to pay the going rate in order to get a presence with an audience.

    Gary Vee has been used as a pawn to pull in the crowd, but the hard sell is coming from the life coaches like Tony Robbins & Co. spamming my email every 2nd day. People fall over doughy-eyed at the promise of being successful.

    How sales funnels work

    The fundamental purpose of a sales funnel is to classify the mindset of your customer and track them through the customer journey. A strong sales funnel will influence customers to take the next step and eventually make a purchase. When prospects don’t move to the next stage, you can identify, and thus strengthen, weaknesses in your marketing material and strategy.

    Historically, the general consensus was that the consumer buying journey passes through four or five stages: awareness, consideration, purchase, service and loyalty. Each stage of your sales funnel should cater towards the mindset of customers within each stage of the buying process.

    Every potential customer starts out as a stranger. The purpose of a sales funnel is to prompt an interest in strangers, encourage them to become better acquainted with your brand, earn their trust and persuade them to become paying customers. Think of courting customers in the same way you approach traditional dating and you get the picture.

    At every stage of the funnel, your marketing and sales personnel need to facilitate a particular action that court prospects. For example, marketers are initially tasked with creating product awareness, providing relevant information that answers questions, detailing benefits, and standing out against the competition.

    It used to be the case that the marketing department would handle business at the top-end of the traditional funnel, then sales would swoop in to seal the deal as it narrowed at the bottom. However, digital technology, and the accompanying array of advertising platforms in the digital space has killed the traditional sales funnel.

    Sales funnels in the digital space

    The influence of digital platforms and electronic devices is prompting businesses to adapt to new customer behaviours. Although the original five stages are still relevant, and continue to dominate the customer journey, the division and shape of modern sales funnels require a different shape; they should be circular. Sales circles.

    In one sense, the internet gives modern businesses an advantage. We potentially have a wider audience, more platforms to work with, cost-effective marketing options and channels that enable us to reach customers quicker. This should add up to improving customer loyalty and boosting conversions. But the digital space also poses more problems than traditional marketing when it comes to convincing consumers.

    The skill of modern marketing is to engage customers in conversation. Digital platforms have switched the power to consumers, and online shoppers want a two-way conversation. Mobile devices, computers and a wealth of content have ushered in a culture of researching products and brands before they make a purchasing decision.

    Conversational considerations need to be included in a sales circle. Potential customers want to know that you have a solution that resolves the problem, desire or preference. The key is to classify customers and determine what their mindset is at each stage of the purchasing process.

    It is therefore important to create a sales funnel, or circle, that ensures you are having the right conversation at the right time in the customer journey. Every customer starts out with a need. The aim of your marketing strategy is to convince them that your brand can satisfy their need.

    Although technology has changed the marketing funnel and the type of device customers are using to engage with your brand influences how you present the message, the actual message should be consistent at each stage of the sales cycle regardless of the platform you are publishing your content on.

    Understanding the customer mindset

    The sales circle changes the scope of a marketing strategy. Modern technology dictates that it is no longer enough to know what a customer wants. Businesses have to provide customers with assistance on their journey and help them make a decision.

    Consumer psychology predicts people respond to certain triggers. For most businesses, interest triggers and decision triggers will be the most crucial aspects of your marketing model. These are things that shoppers see or hear that pulls their emotional strings.

    Social media is arguably the most powerful platform for evoking emotions and promoting persuasive triggers. According to Marketing Land, Dimensional Research published the results of a survey which revealed 90 per cent of online shoppers is influenced by authentic review left by other clients, even though they are absolute strangers to the reader.

    It pays to encourage existing customers to leave a comment on your social accounts or start a conversation that provides relevant information other shoppers are contemplating as well.

    Brand advocates play a crucial role in the modern business model. Include customers in your sales circle and you reach an untapped audience. There’s no need for gimmicks here, just pure, unadulterated information consumers actually want to hear. This is something I used to do when I represented Garden Time Australia.

    You should also be looking to add review sites and online forums to your string of advertising platforms. These types of online platforms serve a number of purposes other than the new trend of acquiring customer reviews.

    For example, Q&A platforms like Expedia and Quora are an opportunity for you to establish yourself as an expert and instill trust in prospects. The group influence of virtual communities are proven to have a positive impact on purchasing decisions.

    The future of funnels

    As new digital technologies emerge, marketers should expect sales “funnels” to take a different dimension. Although we don’t know exactly how future funnels might look, the need for flexibility and a willingness to adapt to new behaviours is a certainty.

    We are already seeing early signs of how technology is shaping marketing. Automated tools integrated into customer relationship management (CRM) platforms promotes time-saving solutions and, when done well, can nurture leads and customer loyalty.

    CRM data also serves as an analytical model that gives you valuable insights to how well your sales funnel and overall marketing campaign is performing. Sometimes the defining solution that resolves a problem is already there, but we haven’t filtered out the data in a way the answer becomes glaringly obvious.

    The next wave of marketing technology will be funnel intelligence software. Such tools capture layers of data that provide direct intelligence for making business decisions that align with the mindset of your customers. There is huge potential for companies that are looking to shape a perfect sales circle without the need for lead capture gimmicks your audience don’t want or need.

    The balance of power has tipped towards consumers which means businesses have to start listening and providing solutions, and not just answers. Relevancy and trust are a priority for modern consumers and if you don’t factor these components into your marketing-sales funnel, prospects will give preference to brands that do.

    What do you think are the magic ingredients in a sales funnel? Write in and let me know your thoughts.

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    Facebook: are you an addict?

    If you landed here from a source different from my blog, chances are you missed my previous article, I’m not forcing you to read it, but allow me to start from where I left…

    As maaaaany people say… The human brain is an incredible instrument.

    Inside the complex network of the brain are synapses which secrete chemicals that send emotional signals through the central nervous system. When we’re using Facebook and other social media accounts we are drinking a cocktail of emotion-controlling drugs, principally dopamine.

    Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of pleasure and elation. This naturally occurring chemical can be released by a hug, a kiss or a word of praise. On Facebook, a like, positive emoticons, responses to a comment and a share will trigger a dopamine release in the brain. Social media marketers have to be careful to guard against obsession.

    One of the principle reasons people struggle with drug addiction is because their brain is not naturally producing sufficient amounts of dopamine.

    Facebook users that are not getting sufficient levels of emotional fulfilment in other areas of their life will ultimately become addicted to social networks and the internet in general. As mentioned in my previous article, social media networks fulfil a human need for self-gratification, and there are tell-tale signs you are obsessed or becoming addicted.

    Furthermore, addiction has a psychological impact on users that impacts their behaviour. Thus people that become obsessed with Facebook typically exhibit the following traits when interacting with the social platform. Read on to determine if you are addicted or in danger of becoming addicted and eventually which category you might belong to 😉

    Social media lurkers

    Two billion people are active on Facebook a month. And by ‘active’ we mean two billion logs on to their social media account. But not everyone that visits interacts. Some users classed as ‘active’ are actually inactive and just lurk – a digital trend that can only be described as online voyeurism but harbours the traits of addiction.

    Social media lurking is an actual thing. But who are these people and what drives them to trawl through profiles without interacting? When you dig deeply into the reasons people use Facebook and what social media does to the brain, the roots of human psychology are revealed.

    You probably commit acts of social media lurking yourself without even realising it! Or you may do it deliberately, but without meaning any harm. Most people that engage in social media creeping are innocently investigating – but to fill an emotional void. Facebook is a coping mechanism to help us overcome emotional survival.

    Facebook stalker

    Other than satisfying entertainment needs, social media networks provide an outlet for interpersonal communication and for the most part is a platform for ‘self-expression’. However, the personality type and psychological status of individuals cause a fluctuation in the way we engage with social networks. In some cases, Facebook users develop into stalkers.

    In the book, Digital Discourse: Language in the New Media, stalking is defined as “largely innocent voyeuristic and information getting process”. But what is it about the human psyche that drives people to browse the profiles of other users without interacting?

    Psychologists suggest Facebook creeping is a symptom of misplaced affection or unhealthy comparisons of individuals in relation to other people. This can be due to low self-esteem, a desire to get more out of life or struggling to let go of the past.

    Of course, stalking may simply be mere curiosity, and in the case of social media marketers, the process of collecting information about followers and their interests. A theory put forward by the Scientific American is that obsessive behaviour on social media is a condition of Attachment Theory – a feeling of lacking or hurt.

    The jilted lover

    Jilted lovers fall into the category of Attachment Theory. When relationships end, it is a natural curiosity to know what our exes are doing. This type of Facebook stalking can cause emotional distress by prolonging the recovery process.

    It is usually the jilted lover that does the stalking. The process is an attempt to find coping mechanisms, but in most cases, the stalker creates more emotional distress for themselves. Jilted lovers inevitably find their exes liking posts and perceive this as flirting – whether it is true or not.

    In this regards I would love you to have a look at one of my Buddhist teachers giving his idea of how facebook can solve “anxiety problems” 🙂

    Looking for love

    Another study found that people use Facebook to search for romantic partners, either directly through the platform like an alternative dating site, or to learn more about potential partners and new relationships they have met offline.

    When the hopeful romantic is shy, or admiring someone from a distance, they do not interact with the object of their desires. Instead, they browse the photos and scroll through the endless content posted on your wall. In new relationships, Facebook creeping is a secret.

    Driven by jealousy

    A study published by researchers at the Universities of Toronto and Guelph revealed that Facebook users that have ‘relationship insecurity’ typically stalk their partner’s account. This type of lurking is a result of ‘anxious attachment’ because the individual was not given enough love and affection by their parents when they were children, usually the father.

    Other researchers have cited interdependence theory as the reason for people to stalk the Facebook wall of their lovers.

    The theory suggests that people in a relationship use Facebook to determine whether their needs are being met in a current relationship or whether there is a better ‘quality of alternatives.’

    For example, the stalker may feel their partner is not investing enough interest in their relationship and use Facebook to track how often their lover is using it and not interacting with them. This can then result in the same feelings as the jilted lover whereby you create ideas that promote feelings of jealousy.

    Conversation starter

    Another type of Facebook addicted are users that look for things to talk about with their friends. This practice often centres around evaluating how other people present themselves online.

    You would hope in most cases, the user is looking for inspirational conversation, but in many cases, especially teenagers, it’s to form an allegiance with other friends while attacking an unsuspecting third party. Another way of putting this is ‘bitching’.

    Digital marketers fall into this type of addicted. In order for brands to engage with an audience, you need to know what the latest social conversation is online. For brands, conversation starters can leverage awareness and provides you with a platform to position yourself as an expert in your field.

    Video hounds

    According to Facebook IQ, 54% of users admit to watching large volumes of videos on Facebook, often back-to-back without even realising. In one respect, this is the power of video marketing. In the online space, videos have a powerful and hypnotic quality.

    Videos are easy content to consume, hence their popularity. Facebook statistics reveal over 8 billion videos are viewed ever day on Facebook. Research shows that 74% of consumer buying decisions are influenced by social media and Facebook is the best platform to engage customers regarding products and services.

    In contrast, viewers that watch video on YouTube actively search for content they want to see and will also be introduced to related videos that appeal to their interests. Facebook is passive whereby random videos appear in your feed yet have the power to suck people in.

    Facebook has its qualities, but can also affect the psychology of users. Marketers have to be sensible in how they interact with followers, but also be consciously aware of how they are using social media. Are you interacting, researching, or just lurking?

     

    Are you addicted to Facebook?

    Other than a lack of productivity, Facebook addiction can result in conditions that are clinically certified as mental disorders. Obsessive use produces signs of depression, impatience, social anxiety, narcissism and loneliness.

    The biggest warning signal of Facebook addiction is overuse. If you are spending most of your online time on Facebook and whiling away hours when you should be sleeping, you have a problem. The recommended dosage is 30-minutes a day.

    While using Facebook to reconnect with old friends and digitally engage with existing friends is one of the benefits in having a Facebook account, if you find yourself trawling through profiles of ex-lovers, old school friends and people you want to flirt with, you could be harbouring signs of loneliness, jealousy or arrogance.

    Facebook is designed with parallax scrolling to make it user-friendly, but the endless stream of content promotes symptoms of procrastination and curiosity.  If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through memes and debates without engaging, you are most likely addicted and simply cannot bring yourself to log out in case you miss something.

    Oversharing information and constantly checking notifications is another key indicator of obsessive use. Facebook is an ante-dote for the desire of instant gratification. It triggers pleasure seeking rewards in the brain.

    For example, every time you receive a like or a reply to comments or posts, a neurotransmitter is secreted in the brain. If the response is satisfying, the neurochemical release is dopamine which gives the feel-good factor. The danger here is that you can quickly become a social media addict, especially if other areas of your life are not being fulfilled on an emotional level.

    Facebook is the ultimate Catch-22. Despite the obvious advantages of organising a social life offline and catching up with news from family and friends, the psychological damage and lack of productivity can threaten personal and professional situations.

    When Facebook is being used for work purposes, it is the responsibility of users and managers to monitor the number of time workers are spending on social networks – both in and out of the office.

    And if you are showing signs of addiction, take corrective action before it’s too late.

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    Facebook addiction: Myth or Truth?

    Facebook was never supposed to be in my repertoire. But for business purposes, the social network does have distinct advantages. It’s also great for finding cool events, bars and parties in reaching distance and staying in touch with family and friends. And all for free! Maybe…

    When I first tried Facebook, it was a major disappointment. I don’t care about mundane information such as what people are having for dinner, the TV programs they are watching or that they have just put the kids to bed.

    However, now that brands have joined the party and people are actively debated all manner of engaging topics, I have found myself getting pulled in and it’s fair to specify that while I’m writing this, I’m officially on my “Facebook detox” for more than 3 weeks, and I definitely don’t regret it.

    I’ll express the reasons and the results of this personal experiment in a different article.

    The growing influence of social media for business purposes is indisputable. Although not for everyone, social media marketing does offer the potential to acquire more customers and boost revenues. At the very least, for customers services and sales teams, Facebook is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.

    As a matter of fact, there are more active users on Facebook than any other social network. Statistics published for Q2 of 2017 reveal there are over 2 billion active users a month. And the growth rate of this online juggernaut is around 600,000 new users each quarter.

    There are plenty of legitimate reasons for people to use Facebook. But when you find yourself scrolling through the endless stream of memes, status updates and debates, constantly checking in at every opportunity of the day (especially first thing in the morning), or you can’t pull yourself away before going to sleep, there’s a good chance you’re addicted.

    Facebook related studies

    Studies assessing the effect of Facebook in today’s society produce several theories about why people become addicted to social media networks. Conclusions include boredom, jealousy, lack of self-esteem and a handful of other underlying psychological conditions.

    However, the driver behind Facebook addiction is because our brains are wired to seek self-gratification. Yes, that’s right. Facebook becomes a drug for some people just like heroin, cocaine and nicotine, yes you smoker heard it right! And like any drug, it is in our nature to become more withdrawn and stop interacting with people altogether.

    Scientific research has discovered that social media can be beneficial for teenagers that struggle to interact socially face-to-face. There is an argument that Facebook and its likes can help shy teenagers bond relationships in the real world through the virtual world, but in reality, when you observe the real world, you typically find millennials and younger generations engrossed in their smartphones even when they are together in a social environment. They are not talking to one another.

    The reason society does not interact anymore is multi-faceted. But one of the drivers to social detachment is the way we use the digital space. So why is social media as addictive as a recreational drug?

    The dopamine effect

    The human brain is an incredible instrument. Inside the complex network of the brain are synapses which secrete chemicals that send emotional signals through the central nervous system. When we’re using Facebook and other social media accounts we are “drinking” a cocktail of emotion-controlling drugs, principally dopamine.

    Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of pleasure and elation. This naturally occurring chemical can be released by a hug, a kiss or a word of praise. On Facebook, a like, positive emoticons, responses to a comment and a share will trigger a dopamine release in the brain. Social media marketers have to be careful to guard against obsession.

    Scientists have discovered that because dopamine transmits pleasure signals, the chemical is like a chisel that sculpts addictive behaviour in certain individuals. One of the principle reasons people struggle with drug addiction is because their brain is not naturally producing sufficient amounts of dopamine.

    Facebook users that are not getting sufficient levels of emotional fulfilment in other areas of their life will ultimately become addicted to social networks and the internet in general. As mentioned in the next article (I know it’s weird to mention the next article but I have it in my drafts already), social media networks fulfil a human need for self-gratification, and there are tell-tale signs you are obsessed or becoming addicted.

    Facebook lights up your brain

    There are a lot of theories and studies that help to reveal how Facebook effects your psychology – and not all of it is good. In some studies, overusing social networks can cause low self-esteem. The irony is, addiction is because likes, shares and replies are the self-gratification needed for you to survive on an emotional level.

    A study conducted at Freie Institute in Berlin measured the brain activity in Facebook users while interacting with so called “friends” on the social network. fMRI scans showed the Nucleus Accumbens became more active when volunteers received feedback that was relevant to them.

    The Nucleus Accumbens is the part of the brain that reacts to rewards. This is the region that lights up when drug users take a hit and is an integral region in the development of addictive behaviour.

    A second part of the Berlin study focused on time spent, and the number of followers affected users. Interestingly enough, the researchers found a correlation between the amount of brain activity and the number of time participants typically spent on Facebook. The volunteers that spent most of their online time on Facebook had more lights flashing in their Nucleus Accumbens. The human mind is conditioned to seek attention, gratification and opinion.

    Psychology Today published an in-depth article which examines whether Facebook helps or hinders productivity. Much like every other study, there are contradictions. Critics argue that “hyper-socializers” are serial time wasters, while a study in Australia determined that social networks can effectively be used to give employees a mentally stimulating break that boosts productivity by 9%. However, the latter study cites YouTube, not Facebook, so I guess we all know the truth.

    Viewers that watch video on YouTube actively search for content they want to see and will also be introduced to related videos that appeal to their interests. Facebook is passive whereby random videos appear in your feed yet have the power to suck people in, at least based on the actual FB algorithm.

    The conclusion we can draw from endless studies is that using Facebook without becoming addicted requires a disciplined mindset. Limiting use and setting targets for each time increment may be the best solution for social media marketing models.

    Facebook and marketing

    Social media was not originally intended as a marketing platform, yet Facebook has grown to become one of the most powerful advertising spaces on the planet. With the internet driving the paradigm shift, Facebook has been a revelation for generating the conversation between brands and consumers. Someone believes that in 10 years from now, Facebook might cover the biggest market share when it comes to digital advertising. No, I’m not one of them. I would bet that Google will still eat the biggest piece of the digital advertising cake.

    That’s not to say social media marketing will propel revenues for every business. Facebook executives may claim paid ads are engineered to align with the interests of end-users, but modern consumers don’t want ads, they want conversation.

    Facebook and other social avenues are the best online space for brands to join a conversation with customers. Even brands that do not have much success increasing revenues can benefit from social platforms in other ways that support business activity.

    And there are significant advantages. Social media is a great tool for enhancing brand awareness, product promotion, earning consumer trust and gathering customer data. The downside is, social media could be affecting the productivity of users in the workplace.

    A paper published in the United States by Kelly Services, indicates that 53% of people polled in the Americas believe Facebook in the workplace hampers their productivity at work. Yet 77% of firms allow access to social media regardless of whether the platform is being used for work purposes or not.

    Using Facebook as a marketing tool is, therefore, something of a paradox. On one hand, social networks are a necessity more than they are a nice-to-have. But if performance levels of social marketers drop because they become addicted, evasive action may be required.

    If you want to find out if you are addicted and which category you belong to, you should give the next article a read…

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    Marketing to women, male brain vs female brain

    Understanding the psychology of marketing is a study in its own. After that you also have to differentiate between how men and women think and behave differently. And let’s face it, men and women haven’t got a clue how the opposite sex think and behave. And when it comes to making purchasing decisions there are some surprising discoveries!

    Market research and studies in neuroscience have brought us one step closer to understanding how the opposite sex thinks – at least in terms of how we react to advertising and use the internet for shopping. For digital marketers, understanding the differences between the male brain v female brain is critical on a number of levels.

    Scientists have discovered approximately 100 differences between the male and female brain. Even among people that are considered balanced there are subtle differences. In the past, businesses marketed to both sexes by using a ‘gender washing’ strategy. As Jenny Darroch writing for the Huffington Post notes: the strategy for selling to women was to “shrink it and pink it”.

    With that in mind, it should hardly come as a surprise that 91% of women say marketers don’t understand them. Yet women typically spend more than men, use more of their brain when making purchasing decisions and prefer physical stores than online shopping. Communicating with women should, therefore, be a priority for marketers.

    Differences between male and female brain

    It’s well known that human beings are androgynous. Men have a feminine aspect to their psyche and vice versa. The prominent 20th Century psychoanalyst, Carl G. Jung explained this by using the archetypes of the anima and animus which he deduced plays some role in the traditional roles of gender within society.

    The critical difference between men and women is the way the mind works. The “extreme male brain” is systematized and typically processes information analytically. The “extreme female brain” is empathetic and can relate to other people. In between these two extremes are various balances depending on whether the person has developed their anima (in women) or animus (in men).

    It is impossible to know which part of the brain your audience is thinking with of course, but the safe option is to appeal to female consumers as more men have developed their animus than you might imagine. Men still make purchasing decisions based on emotion as well as rationale. But more importantly, women are the superior shopper.

    Furthermore, women make the majority of household purchasing decisions. Research published by the Pew Institute reveals that 45% of women surveyed manage the finances in a family home compared to 23% of men. Women also think of other people and not just themselves so are more likely to spend more.

    Not only do women control the money, they also make the vast majority of purchasing decisions. And we’re not just talking groceries and healthcare for the family here. Statistics reveal that 80% of women influence car purchases and girls are buying more electrical equipment than they did in the past.

    How the female brain works

    In recent years, neuroscientists have performed numerous tests on the brain and have identified differences between men and women that bust some myths. It turns out the female brain functions quicker and more effectively than the male brain which is why women can multi-task and speak more fluently than men.

    Females also have a higher density of neural connections in the hippocampus, the memory centre of the brain. This enables women to absorb more information using their five senses and process emotive information better than men.

    From a marketing perspective, girls will register more in an image and feel emotionally moved by human connections. Furthermore, the human brain naturally recalls visual stimuli and stories easier than textual content. Visuals also release serotonin, a neurochemical that effects mood and a sense of wellbeing.

    The striatum, the part of the brain responsible for assessing potential rewards, is also more active in the female of the species. This region of the brain becomes active when a decision in made. Women have a stronger reaction when they make prosocial connections, or decisions for the family. In men, the striatum is most active when they make a decision which has a self-focus.

    Mothers represent a $2.4 trillion market, and with 18.3 million actively reading blogs every month, publishing great content that appeals to family needs increases your chances of pressing emotional buttons. Women are also good influencers and mentions brands they trust an average of 20 times more than men.

    Female behavior in the digital space

    Men and women also act differently with how they interact with brands and use the internet. Girls are much more likely to provide brands with basic information, confirm purchases and check availability of products. Women are also more optimistic of a result when conducting transactions via a chatbot.

    It is interesting to note however, that women are not as comfortable when making online purchasing decisions that require complex activities such as getting expert opinion, exchanging goods or making travel arrangements. In general, men feel more confident of making the right choices when purchases require more consideration.

    The reason for this is because women do not change their attitude towards shopping regardless of their stage in life or social circumstances. A survey conducted by AMP Agency revealed the mindset women develop towards shopping in their teens remains the same in their later years. Therefore girls that lack confidence making difficult purchasing in their teens are likely to retain the habit. It is programmed in their “shopping genes”.

    This discovery accounts for why only 1 in 10 women are prepared to try new products and start trends. Furthermore, this same category of female shoppers is more likely to seek out value for money when trying new products and services in order to ‘test the waters.’

    Both men and women understandably want convenience to be a part of their shopping experience, but a study performed by DDB Life Style revealed men are more likely to make online purchases using a mobile device than women. In a somewhat surprising turn-up, men are also more inclined to use QR codes, mobile coupons and apps to find the best deals. The assumption here is that men adapt to high-end technology quicker than women.

    That’s not to say women are not willing to shop online. A report published in IBTimes reveals 18.2% of women shop on their mobile phone. But in general, women enjoy physically going shopping and visiting stores, feeling fabrics, testing devices and the rest of it. For 57% of women, shopping is a source of entertainment.

    Statistics reveal that women are more astute at shopping than men. They are willing to invest more time and energy in finding products and services that are best for themselves and their family and use both sides of the brain when making purchasing decisions – unless the decisions are too complex.

    Women typically act on how they feel and give purchasing decisions a lot of thought too. Although that doesn’t always mean they will make useful purposes. As any man will tell you, women just like to spend money! 😉

    From a marketing perspective, the smart approach is to use visuals that appeal to the core emotions of women but keep the message simple. Even with all the statistics and fMRI scans, we still don’t really understand how the female brain works.

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    The Importance Of Colours And Design in Marketing

    When I was working for Coca Cola in Italy, I learned a valuable marketing lesson; colour and design affects people’s purchasing decisions.

    Coca-Cola had just launched Fanta Zero, a new product to expand the company’s line of no-sugar drinks. Coke-zero and Sprite-zero performed well in the market. As Fanta was also popular, we automatically expected Fanta-zero would too. It didn’t. At least not at first.

    The original label and marketing designs for Fanta-zero featured a blue Fanta logo over a grey label. Sales were poor and, to us, it appeared as though consumers were not enjoying the drink.

    Consequently, the marketing department decided to change the colour of the label. The new design featured an electric blue background and a super-bright orange logo. Sales increased by 35%. In that moment, I understood how colour and design in marketing can affect how people perceive merchandise.

    Colour communicates with the subconscious mind.

    Colour association

    The average consumer may not be consciously aware of the effect colour has on them when they visit a website, read a brochure or visit a social media website. Marketers and designers, on the other hand, understand the role of colour and consistently use the same shades across all advertising channels.

    Scientific research revealed that colour has the power to attract consumers because we make buying decisions based on personal preference, experiences, upbringings and cultural differences. According to data, 90% of snap decisions are made on colour alone.

    You probably know this from experience. When you’re in the supermarket buying pasta let’s say, which brand do you go for? For most people, all pasta tastes the same. Unless you are familiar with a particular brand name you trust, you will probably opt for the packet you like the look of.

    When cross-border trading, international businesses often change the colours of their marketing material to fit the sensibilities of the target market. Colour can vary from one culture to the next. There can also be colour discrimination between rival sports clubs and Universities. Consumers will not buy red if their team play in blue.

    The simple truth is that people associate with colours. Every experience we have in life is recorded in the subconscious mind, and we make a decision what we like and what we don’t like. Because there is a spectrum of colours all around us, we also associate dominant colours with certain experiences which are also promote thoughts and moods. This is how colour persuades consumers to buy.

    How colours impact the mind

    There is a school of thought amongst marketers that colours effect mood. While this is true to an extent, colours actually prompt memories which promote thoughts. Every thought we have has an associated emotion which makes us feel a particular way.

    For example, in colour psychology, green is typically associated with a sense of being calm. The reason for this is because we typically feel in a relaxed mood when we are out in nature. Light blue is associated with a peaceful sky on a nice day and promotes the same feeling of inner peace and contentment.

    Red, on the other hand, is associated with danger and warning. Red, therefore, stimulates the emotional centre of the brain, because the mind knows we are not in danger, the response is excitement or the urge to act on impulse. This is why fast-food chains use red in their logos and advertising.

    You may have noticed that industries tend to align with certain colours and designs. Navy blue is associated with trust and often (ironically) used by banks and insurance companies. Toy stores use bright colours that excite children, while stores that sell outdoor equipment go with the colours of nature.

    Furthermore, colours are not only restricted to logos, websites and marketing material. The colour in which businesses paint their store front and interior walls help to create an ambience. Similarly, products are made in specific colours because they are eye-catching or evoke emotions.

    Colour psychology of branding

    When neuroscientists at Warwick Business School monitored brain activity using fMRI scans, they discovered people remember certain designs over others. Platonic solids found in sacred geometry are the most recognised because the brain finds symmetry more appealing. This is why the logos of Fortune 500 companies incorporate sacred geometry.

    Marketers that are aware of colour psychology and the effect design has on consumers understand that the more references you connect with your brand, the more likely people are to remember your company. The mind recalls images easier when there is a connection they recognise.

    When we reverted back to colours consumers associated with as the design for the Fanta label, sales increased because people associated those particular colours with the drink. Brand recognition plays a major role in purchasing decisions because brands can provoke a sense of trust (or mistrust).

    Companies should, therefore, choose colours and designs that support brand personality. Determine what type of character you want to portray and choose colours that reflect the nature of your brand personality and product. Luxury brands typically use gold or silver with black. Purple promotes sophistication whilst yellow promotes happiness and vitality because of its association with the sun.

    Using colour and design in marketing campaigns

    The standard rule of colour psychology in marketing is to consistently use the same colours as your logo because that is what people recognise and associate with your brand. However, your brand colours do not always have to dominate the ad.

    People relate to colours by association. They also react to colours because of an emotional stimulation. When creating marketing ads, therefore, the dominant colour you use should give context to the product or service you are promoting.

    Ad designs can be categorised into two system; rational and instinctual. Brands looking to acquire new customers or sell long-lasting products perform better when they promote rational thinking. In this system, consumers consider the reasons why they should buy a product from a specific brand.

    When trying to evoke instinctive reactions, ad designs should reduce the cognitive process and communicate to consumers on a non-conscious level. This system makes people feel drawn to your ad or product. The strategy of the design is largely image-based and should use colours consumers mostly associate with the product on an emotional level.

    Images and colours promote emotions in association with experiences. Therefore, the colours and designs you choose for your brand should reflect the experience your customers will associate with your product and brand.

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