Some Basic Truths About Marketing

Some Basic Truths About Marketing
Know the customer is rule one whether you are marketing luxury goods or a low cost commodity. Yet, according to a leading consumer neuroscientist, brands fail every day to act upon some basic truths.

Like “women shop, men buy.”

And shoppers react more favorably to curves than they do to squared-off products and store displays.

And don’t ask the customer to do more than three things. If you do, he or she will bolt.

And offering an interesting fact to a consumer in a marketing message produces a dopamine rush that could lead to a sale.

These observations were shared this week in New York at a CMO Summit that was held during the National Retail Federation conference. I presented mobile learnings from the just concluded holiday season, but Nielsen’s A.K. Pradeep stole the show.

Pradeep is the founder and Chairman of Nielsen NeuroFocus, which has numerous patents for its advanced technologies and a blue-chip client list representing many Fortune 100 companies across dozens of categories. NeuroFocus became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nielsen in 2011.

More than funny, Pradeep was smart. According to him, each year a trillion dollars is spent on communicating to and persuading the human brain, yet few understand how the brain really works—what’s attractive to it, how it decides what it likes and doesn’t like, and how it chooses to buy or not buy the infinite variety of products and services presented to it every day.

Pradeep says that neuromarketing research is revealing a myriad of fascinating insights that help improve the effectiveness of every aspect of clients’ brands, products, packaging, in-store marketing, advertising, and entertainment content.

He says the female brain has four times as many neurons connecting the right and left hemispheres, greatly enhancing its ability to process information through both rational and emotional filters—a fact that must not be ignored when crafting a message.

Among the five senses, vision is the most pronounced and the brain will discount information that is not in concert with the visual stimuli it receives. The sense of smell is quite powerful too, as it is the most direct route to emotions and memory storage. Being linked with a pleasant, iconic smell can significantly improve a product’s success in the marketplace.

Brains are also quite empathic, Pradeep believes, and it is a neural “monkey see; monkey do” mechanism that can help companies around the world create and market products and services that consumers will find naturally compelling.

Mirror neuron theory says that when someone watches an action being performed, he or she performs that action in his or her own brain. Activating this mirror neuron system is one of the most effective ways to connect with consumers.

Of course, Pradeep’s instruction works just as well for the small and medium sized business owner as it does to the marketer pushing $3,000 suits and mass market soft drinks.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Some Basic Truths About Marketing


The Question Remains – Does Your Business Need A Mobile App?

When it comes to mobile apps, the year is ending the way it began – with some marketers saying they need one, but without even a half-decent reason why.

Several weeks ago in Las Vegas, I was approached following a Mobilized Marketing book presentation by a small business marketer. Much to the chagrin of a “more sophisticated” marketing colleague, the gentlemen pushed for approval from me for moving forward on creating an app.

But when I gently asked whether he knew what type of mobile devices his customers carry, and whether he was prepared to build for more than one operating system (iOS for Apple devices, Android for Google, etc.), he realized that he hadn’t done enough homework on the subject of apps.

That scenario happened to me several times this year – and actually every year since 2007.

In a recent PC World article called Does your small business need a mobile app to stay competitive? author Christopher Null wrote that many small and medium size business owners believe that everyone has an app but them.

The Question Remains – Does Your Business Need A Mobile App?

“As a small-business owner, choosing whether to join the app-development club can be a difficult decision,” Null wrote. “You may feel like you have to build an app and go mobile to stay competitive, but you’ve probably heard that apps are expensive and time-consuming to develop. More and more users are dumping desktops and laptops for tablets and cell phones, so it makes sense to optimize the online experience for them. But is it really worth the effort? Cant they just use their smartphones to access the website you already have?

“Its a tricky problem with no single cut-and-dried solution.”

Null correctly pointed out that while mobile websites work on all smartphones, “an app gives you much more presence on the phone than a bookmark on that phones browser does. Rather than forcing the user to launch the browser and find your URL, an app is always there, front and center on the mobile desktop. Your business is constantly in mind, whether the person is using the app or not.”

I’m in the camp that says build a mobile website before an app (if you need an app at all) because it is more inclusive.

There were some who believed that the “duel” between the mobile web and apps would be won by the end of 2012 and that only one would be left standing. That won’t happen. Both have a place. It behooves small and medium size business owners and marketers to understand their customers and provide the best solution for them.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

The Question Remains – Does Your Business Need A Mobile App?

Rethinking Customer Expectations

Three years ago nearly to the day, I had one of the least satisfying shopping experiences of my life. Ironically, it was with a luxury car dealership backed by a customer service promise that it badly broke.

The salesperson treated me rudely, telling me that the invoice information that I was accessing on my smartphone was wrong. Of course, I was looking at the mobile version of Consumer Reports data that has proven to be a cost-saver for years. But this guy could not acknowledge the new reality created by real-time connectivity.

Now, with nearly all customers carrying and using mobile devices to make buying decisions, businesses of all sizes need to react to the new reality.

“We have to rethink how consumers are accessing information, communicating with others, and the expectations they now have on brands,” says Denny Suh, digital brand manager, Capital One. “It’s no longer mobile versus not mobile. They want immediately and in real time, and in whatever format is most convenient.” 

Rethinking Customer Expectations
Suh predicts even more consumer expectation in 2013, setting up opportunity for small and medium-size businesses to compete and win.

“I believe the mobile adoption rate will continue to follow a hockey-stick-like curve,” Suh says. “I also believe that consumers will demand brands and retailers to deliver a great mobile experience – and they will vote with their taps and swipes or lack thereof. “

Suh’s advice for marketers and business owners?

“First of all, do not opt out (of using mobile),” he says. “Next, there is no need to continue to test the water, because mobile is here to stay. The third thing not to do is to have your eye so far out ahead that you forget what has worked in the past.

“Finally, do not treat your mobile campaigns just like your online campaigns. They are distinct channels, they have distinct user paths and distinct sets of consumer expectations from brands. And the KPIs (key performance indicators) can vary- that is OK. “

Capital One is expanding its mobile initiatives in the coming year. It certainly isn’t the only business to follow this route.


This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

Rethinking Customer Expectations