This Is How You Should Use Your Brain In Marketing

May 28, 2009 Content Marketing no comments


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In the hyper-competitive world of marketing and sales, it isn’t sufficient just to push out an ad or a sales letter and hope and pray for a response.

Consumers and corporate buyers are increasingly spoilt for choice. Selling based on price alone is no longer sustainable in the long haul.

Trigger Your Prospect’s Old Brain

The solution? Market to your prospect’s old brain.

At least according to authors Patrick Renvoise and Christophe Morin (co-founders of SalesBrain) of the book Neuromarketing – Understanding the “Buy Buttons” in Your Customer’s Brain.

Describing how the primitive old brain (which date back 450 million years apparently) was the decision making centre of human beings, this highly readable volume suggested tools and techniques to create an impact where it matters most.

Unlike our more advanced “new” brain which is the grey matter on the frontal lobes of your cranium, the old brain is triggered by six different stimuli:

  • Self-Centredness: Yes, your old brain is a selfish brain that seeks to keep itself alive!
  • Contrast: Unlike your finely attuned new brain, your old brain is triggered by contrast.
  • Tangible Input: Our old brain can grasp tangible items (ie physical stuff) more easily than esoteric ideas.
  • Beginning and End: Notice how you remember the starts and endings more easily than the rest?
  • Visual Stimuli: One of the oldest sensations, visually stimulating items capture our attention fast.
  • Emotion: Yes, our old brain is a touchy-feely one. This is why your emotions can sometimes overwhelm you much more than an intellectually fascinating item.

To hit the six stimuli of the old brain (self-centredness, contrast, tangible input, beginning and end, visual stimuli and emotion), Renvoise and Morin created an easy four-step process.

#1 Diagnose The Pain

This involves understanding the fundamental problems and issues that your prospect faces.

For example, he or she may really want a beautiful set of teeth rather than a nice tasting toothpaste.

Key considerations include the source of the pain (eg financial, personal, health), its intensity, timing and awareness.

#2 Differentiate Your Claims

After you’ve identified your prospect’s pain point, you need to create significant contrast and uniqueness from your competitors’ product offerings.

Originality (Coca Cola and Levi’s), recommended choice (More dentists recommend XYZ…), or convenience (7-Eleven’s always close but never close) are some of the possible ways to do so.

#3 Demonstrate The Gain

Saying you’re different isn’t enough. You need to provide evidence that your claim works.

This can be in the form of a customer story or testimonial, a demonstration (eg the famous iPhone blending advertisement by Blendtec below), data (eg studies by independent research firms), or a vision (using analogies, metaphors or stories).

#4 Deliver to the Old Brain

This final step involves coming up with the nuts and bolts of your marketing message. In the book, there are six key message building blocks which are proposed. I find them pretty interesting and insightful.

a) Grabber

This can take the shape of a mini-drama, wordplay, rhetorical question, prop or story that can immediately capture your prospect’s attention.

Grabbers can be in your headlines or lead-in sentences.

b) Big Picture

The old adage that a picture paints a thousand words apply here. In this case, your picture should be one that immediately shows relief from the prospect’s main source of main.

c) Claims

These are your unique selling propositions which should be highly specific and defensible. Repetition helps to reinforce them in your prospect’s mind.

d) Proofs of Gain

Include both the tangible and intangible proofs that your prospect can benefit from should she become your customer. This demonstrates to your prospect that you are not just pulling wool over their eyes.

e) Handling Objections

Ah yes, this is a very necessary skill for both marketers and sellers alike.

In the book, this is done by restating your prospect’s objection, stepping into it, waiting for the feedback of prospects, stating your personal opinion on the matter, and presenting a positive side to the objection.

You can do this both in your sales and marketing copy, as well as in face-to-face engagements.

f) The Close

Last but certainly not least, you need a Call To Action (CTA).

Now, this is done through repetition of your claims and triggering a positive commitment.

g) Seven Impact Boosters

Finally, to strengthen your marketing message, the authors have suggested seven impact boosters. These are namely:

  1. Craft copy with “You” in it
  2. Establish your credibility in your message
  3. Engage your prospect’s emotions
  4. Use contrast (before and after like the famous Dove Evolution ad below)
  5. Adapt to your audience’s learning styles (visual, auditory or kinesthetic)
  6. Tell stories
  7. Adopt the Japanese Zen philosophy of ‘Less is More’ (which is one of the great truisms of the Internet age).


While Neuromarketing may not go deeply into the theoretical underpinnings of how our brain works, it does provide rather useful and practical tips on improving one’s marketing techniques.

Some of its principles are derived from Advertising 101 (think AIDA). Others delve more into the art and science of selling.

While scholars may poo-poo the idea of exploiting one’s cranium for commercial purposes, it may have to be a necessary evil in times like this.

Overall, a highly recommended read for beginning marketers keen to hone their craft.


By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

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