In the final episode of our three part neuromarketing series on B2B Growth, we discuss how to leverage neuromarketing to improve your business.
Last episode, I was joined by Dr. Ming Hsu and Dr. Uma Karmarkar to discuss why neuromarketing matters in B2B. In the final episode of the series, I’m joined by Dr. Moran Cerf, neuroscientist and associate professor at the Kellogg School of Management and the neuroscience program at Northwestern University. He’s also the founder of ThinkAlike Laboratories, a neuromarketing firm which applies neuroscience research to better connect advertisers and consumers.
We close out this series by discussing how to leverage neuromarketing in the modern age to improve business performance.
About My Guest
Dr. Cerf was a neuroscientist with some background in business before his career started in neuromarketing. Somehow neuroscience became interesting to a lot of companies, but schools hardly had any neuroscience programs or subject matter experts in their staff.
This is why he was hired at Kellogg, as a result of the lack of expertise in this space at the time. Dr. Cerf is now looking more into the study of intuition and decision-making. For instance, “I had a feeling this was right” or problems that experts intuitively know the correct answers to and can cough them up to anyone. They’re trying to take data and validate if the hunch was correct.
They’re basically looking into the science behind gut instinct…well, the science behind the brain itself in the moment where you just know the answer and you can’t articulate why. Experts in any field seem to develop this same sense of intuition that gives them insights others don’t have.
Instead of relying on AI to solve big data problems, Dr. Cerf has been looking into how the brain processes and analyzes these problems, specifically how the brain turns “hunches” into feelings.
The cognitive human brain is extremely hard to replicate and would be extremely valuable to the business world, which is exactly what Dr. Cerf is looking to accomplish: connecting the entire knowledge of the world to the brain.
What is the True Reasoning Behind Marketing?
It’s all about getting folks to buy the things you want them to. According to Dr. Cerf, spam is spam because of bad targeting. Emails that arrive perfectly on time are few and far between, and if we connected the world to our brain, everything theoretically would arrive on-time. It would be great as uncalled for spam would entirely disappear, as we’d only receive promotions relevant to our needs.
On the flip side, what if we don’t want to do something but something makes us? Either the world helps us in what our brain wants, or it can control us. We would really be living in the Matrix in this sense!
How is this Relevant to Me?
The last five years, Dr. Cerf has been measuring engagement in the neuromarketing field and has some ways to make use of this.
All online media companies saying “we will increase engagement” really uses it as a broad term…are they increasing clicks, responses, overall purchases? However, there’s one characteristic about engagement that stands out: the ability of content to simply capture our attention.
Imagine you’re driving on a highway and then there’s a traffic jam because something is happening on the other side of the median. However, as you approach, you do the same thing and slow down to look and see what’s happening. That’s engagement. Something about the content is so interesting that everyone takes time to slow down and see what’s happening when they pass by it.
It’s not always necessarily fun or enjoyable, but there’s an overlying constant that takes over everyone’s brain. So Dr. Cerf took all sorts of content (movies and games) and measured to see how it affected people’s brain, both individually and in a group setting. They found regardless of when you start watching something, good content naturally captivates more people. If it’s good, it captures everyone’s brains.
If everyone’s brains look alike across the board, Dr. Cerf can tell if the content is engaging, as it makes multiple people think the same thing. This same concept can be applied with marketing content. They’re starting to find some clear indicators on what works and what doesn’t.
How Can Marketers Scale This?
While B2C has more data than B2B, Dr. Cerf believes the opportunity lies with individuals. The ones working the negotiations are the ones who’s brains we can look at. But if you know your brain, you can make more certain decisions that align with your brains ideal resolution.
There’s a lot of brains out there, and they all have optimal states of decision-making. Some people make better decisions in the morning, while others perform best later in the day. For critical decisions in B2B, it’s all about interpersonal relationships and understanding the person you are speaking with.
Neuroscience can help us optimize all of these pieces.
Thousands of years ago, Greek philosophers loved talking about the idea of knowing yourself…”Know thyself”. Dr. Cerf elevated the context of this. While some of us can afford to do this, within the last decade, knowing oneself has became a privilege and is changing.
Now, some companies are in the business of knowing you too well, to the point where they can predict your own future.
For these businesses, it’s no longer a privilege but a necessity for success. Now, especially for managers and executives, Dr. Cerf believes it’s important to sit down with neuroscientists to understand your own brain profile, as it gives you access to things you wouldn’t originally acknowledge. By knowing yourself, you can obtain a better understanding of your customer base.
Dr. Cerf’s Three Takeaways
1. Keep your finger on the pulse of neuromarketing
Dr. Cerf believes that neuromarketing will become increasingly important for the future of B2B and B2C companies alike. He recommends to continue reading and researching the field everyday. Also, see how others are using it and implementing practices in their organization.
2. Ask yourself, “Would it be cheaper or faster to invest in neuromarketing studies?”
Neuromarketing wasn’t really an actionable field five years ago. Since then, there has been massive developments as studies have gained some serious traction. Everyone in the business world should continue understanding it’s there and see how it can improve operations. Ask yourself, “Is it cheaper” or “Is it faster” to invest in these neuromarketing studies.
3. It can answer things you don’t want to ask
Especially for sales, every rep has pushed someone to a breaking point or negative emotions. Neuromarketing can help us understand when we are reaching that point and tell us to stop. Professionally, it’s poor etiquette to ask someone what makes them mad, but neuromarketing can help us understand this without even talking to others.