Using Neuroscience to Optimize the Customer Acquisition Process

Featuring Tom Shapiro, CEO of Stratabeat, Inc.

  • Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Amanda Zantal-Weiner, and I'm a senior staff writer with the HubSpot marketing blog. I'm here today with Tom Shapiro to talk about neuromarketing for today's webinar, and we still have a few people filtering in so we're going to be getting started with the webinar in just a couple of minutes, so stick around. We can't wait to hang out with you.

    Hi again, everyone. Welcome back. Thank you so much for joining us here at HubSpot Academy. I'm Amanda Zantal-Weiner. I'm the senior staff writer for the HubSpot marketing blog, and I'm here today with Tom Shapiro, hi Tom.


    CEO of Stratabeat, and we're going to be learning about neuroscience today, or more specifically, neuromarketing. Tom's thoughts on marketing strategy and branding and web design and of course neuromarketing have appeared in a number of publications and platforms, including CNN, Forbes, the HubSpot Marketing Blog, MediaPost, Realtor Magazine, and if you can believe it, even more. Just a quick reminder though that today's webinar is brought to you by HubSpot Academy, the free training division of HubSpot, offering online courses for marketers, salespeople and designers, and you can learn more about the HubSpot Academy at

    We are so happy to have all of you watching today but we would really love to have you joining the conversation too, so if you'd like to question or comment throughout the webinar, you can do so with the #hubspotwebinar and we actually have several hundred people online watching with us and we're really quite eager to hear what you think of today's webinar, and we're not just saying that. We mean it, right Tom?


    Again, questions and comments, #hubspotwebinar. Without further ado, welcome Tom, thank you again for being here.

    Thank you.

    Please take it away.

    Awesome, thanks Amanda and thank you, everyone for attending. Hopefully, this will be very fun for you and very educational as well, so we're going to be looking at how to use neuroscience to optimize the customer acquisition process and the whole thing with neuromarketing is trying to understand your audience as much as possible, how do they think, why do they do what they do, why do they click what they click, why do they buy what they buy and I thought a really good parallel to bring this to life for you is imagine any event that you attend or imagine for example, the other day the Super Bowl, the game between the Patriots and the Falcons and it had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It was a very exciting game. The Patriots were down by 25 points late in the third quarter, came back. Julian Edelman does an acrobatic catch, this in between the legs of another player while two other players were on top of him. It goes into overtime, and I was thinking, "Wow, the Super Bowl was really kind of a parallel to what we should be trying to achieve with our marketing."

    Grab your attention, right? Attract attention and then engage them, have them on the edge of their seats and then have them remember you after the event in a lot of detail, and so we're going to go through a lot of examples today to show you how to achieve that type of marketing.

    First, why don't we look at the brain itself. If we're talking about neuromarketing, let's just start with the basics, the human brain. The human brain contains over 100 billion neurons, billion with a B and on a per weight basis, it has more neurons than any other species. That's quite a lot, but here's what's interesting. The neurons, in and of themselves, don't really do anything. It's all the connections between and among the neurons, that's what makes our humanness come to life that's what makes us able to think and able to solve complex problems and able to listen and appreciate music and all of that fantastic stuff, but these are all the nuts and bolts of what our brain is but that really doesn't tell us how powerful it is.

    Well, the human brain is actually up to 30 times as powerful as the world's most powerful supercomputer. It really does pack quite a powerful punch, and we as marketers, it behooves us to understand as much as possible if our audience has this type of computing power in their minds. It really behooves us to understand as much as possible and to connect as directly as possible and to engage as deeply as possible with our audience in order to have the greatest marketing results as possible. Now okay, so we know that the human brain is powerful, right? What does that mean in terms of our marketing? How do we know how that plays into what people purchase versus what they don't purchase, and here's where it gets really interesting.

    We think, "Okay, I go on a website or you go on a website and we think that we're in full control over what we're going to buy, what we're going to click on, what we're going to do.", and we think that we're very consciously doing this. Actually, our purchase decisions are mainly formed from the subconscious. According to Nielsen, 90% of the purchase decisions is based on the subconscious. A professor at Harvard actually estimates this number more like 95%, so this is, imagine 90% being the conservative number and so obviously, connecting with your audience on a subconscious level is where it's at. That's where the money is. That's how you're going to get greater marketing results. That's how you're going to move the needle for your business, and so that's what we're going to talk about today. We're going to talk about how can we connect more effectively with your audience on a subconscious level, driving them towards the actions that you value the most.

    The place where we want to start is with emotions. We as human beings are very, very, very emotional creatures. Just think about soap operas for example. Crazy example and you might think, "Oh no, I'm a techie. I'm in B2B. I don't care about soap operas." No, we're all human, we all are very, very emotional. In fact, Stanford professors Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass uncovered that human beings actually react the same exact way to inanimate objects as we do to personal interactions.

    For example, you're on a website, it's a frustrating experience, you get angry at the screen. It's just bits and bytes, it's not a person yet there's no difference. You're in a complex voicemail system which is frustrating the heck out of you. You get angry, right? You react identically as if you were dealing with a human being even though it doesn't help you getting angry at this inanimate thing. Same with for instance a video conference and if you've ever experienced it where the quality of the video is very choppy and there's a delay between a mouth moving and the voice that's coming through, it's very disconcerting. We freak out as human beings. Why? It's just bits and bytes, it's just bits and bytes but it's because we react the same way to anything and that's very emotionally. We are by nature very emotional.

    Now, how does that play into your marketing? The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has a very interesting study. It's where he was looking at people who had damage to the part of the brain that triggers emotions. In other words, these people could not feel any emotions. They couldn't feel anything. Now they were fully functioning adults. If you met them in the street, you won't think anything of it but they did have this damage to the part of the brain that triggers emotions and they couldn't feel anything. What Damasio uncovered was they had an extremely, extremely difficult time making any purchase decisions.

    Translate that from your own business or your own website, your own trade show booth, your own brochure, your own billboard advertisement. If you are not evoking an emotional response, you are making it physically and mentally difficult for your target audience to purchase from you. Remember, it's very important. Emotions are critical. No matter whether you're selling something that is very emotional in nature or whether you're selling cement, it doesn't matter. All purchases have this emotional element, and the more that you can evoke an emotional response from your audience, the more powerful your marketing will be.

    Let's say you're not fully believing this and you want some proof, okay let's get to the proof. Let's look at advertising. There have been studies done that have found that when looking at purchase intent, okay so not just liking an ad but purchase intent, purchase intent is actually three to one when looking at an emotional ad versus one that's not emotionally based with TV, three to one. With print, it's two to one, and so whether we're talking about TV, whether we're talking about print, whether we're talking about digital, emotional advertising is very powerful and it's more powerful than non-emotional marketing.

    Beyond just advertising, what about social sharing. We love creating content that gets shared all over the place and gets our name in front of new prospects. It's fantastic. What gets people sharing? Well, Jonah Berger, in his very well known book Contagious, talked about the power of emotional content, and again evoking an emotional response, same exact thing as Damasio talked about.

    The more emotionally you can get people involved, the more likely it would be that it would be shared, and actually Berger talked about high arousal emotions as being likely to produce even more social sharing than in cases where you're not getting them as aroused. You see this time and time again in some of the most bad ass marketers in the country. They're proving the power of emotional marketing and we'll walk through some examples for you.

    Let's look at Apple. When Apple and Steve Jobs launched the Think Different campaign, it was soon after Steve Jobs came back to Apple and they were about 90 days away from bankruptcy at the time. They initiated the Think Different and what does that tell you about Apple's products? Actually, it tells you nothing. What does that tell you about how awesome their technology is? Actually, it tells you nothing. What does that tell you about Apple? Nothing, it tells you nothing about Apple. It doesn't tell you about their technology, about their methodology, how many people they have, how many offices they have. None of the things that you find marketers doing all the time, spending all their time talking about how great they are, how great their products are, how great their companies are, Apple ignored all of that. They tossed it all out the window and they just focused on Think Different, very aspirational message, very motivational message.

    What were they doing? Evoking an emotional response. Going back to Damasio, going back to Berger, that's all they were doing. That's it, 100%, they were evoking an emotional response and that's why it was so powerful. You go back to the time when Apple launched the Apple Store, and at the time, people thought that it was crazy, getting into retail, companies like Gateway tried it, didn't work. You can't sell computers that way. If you're a computer developer, just get out of the business. Apple did it anyway and the environment was all focused on an emotional experience. You walk into the store and they just wanted you to touch the products and to engage with the products and to use the products and the Genius Bar, it was all an emotional experience. Now you compare that at the time to the 800 pound gorilla in the market, which was Comp USA. At Comp USA, how did they sell? It was all very rational, right? CPU speed, hard drive space, how big were the storage, RAM capacity or they might take a different approach and say 10% off, 20% off, 30% off, all very rational explanations as to why you should buy a computer at Comp USA.

    Let's look at what happened. Apple stores became the fastest-growing retail chain in history, and Comp USA, bankrupt. That's the power of emotional marketing. Let's look at another example, so Procter and Gamble with the Always brand. They launched the Like A Girl campaign and if you're unaware of this, it was a campaign all around the idea that girls going through their teenage years are their most vulnerable in terms of their self confidence, and what the campaign was trying to do was to change the conversation, and so Like A Girl is often used in very derogatory manner, "Oh you run like a girl, oh you fight like a girl, oh you punch like a girl or you kick like a girl." Like A Girl, very derogatory, and what they were trying to do was to convince these girls to turn the thought on its head and to really think what Like A Girl truly means at its essence.

    By the end of the video, all of them are running full speed, they're fighting at full power and I just dare you, if you haven't seen the videos yet, I dare you to go out and watch them and try not to cry. It's awesome, especially for any of you who have daughters. It's an awesome message. Anyway, again Like A Girl, what does that tell you about Always products? It tells you nothing. It doesn't even tell you what they're selling, yet it's one of the most powerful and successful campaigns that P&G has ever run, well, well over 100 million video views.

    They still are cranking out new videos in series. I believe that a recent one launched last summer has close to 30 million views just in and of itself, and this is after two years after the original video appeared, so very powerful.

    We can go on and on. Look at Nike. The iconic campaign Just Do It, one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history. It enabled Nike to grow to about $32 billion a year in sales. Again, it doesn't tell you anything rationally based. It doesn't tell you about any products. It doesn't tell you what they're selling. It doesn't tell you about their technology. It doesn't tell you about their methodology. It doesn't tell you anything. It's just evoking an emotional response.

    As you can see with Apple, as you can see with Like A Girl, as you can see with Nike, time and time again, we're finding that the most powerful marketing is just evoking an emotional response. That's it. If you find with your own marketing, you're trying to explain things, you're trying to explain how great your product is, how great your service is, how great your methodology is, stop and just turn it on its head and just focus on your audience, how are they reacting, how are they getting emotionally engaged, how are you touching their heart, and again it doesn't matter whether you're talking about is it something that's a boring product or service or very technologically based or B2B, it all factors in. Google and CEB did a study on B2B buying behaviors and again, they found emotions is where it's at. They found that with B2B, obviously the sales cycle can be very long. It can be three months, six months, nine months, 12 months. It can be two years.

    What they were expecting was as you get closer and closer over time to the actual purchase event, that people become more and more rational in their decision making and they found that not to be the case. Actually, when emotional messaging declined, purchase intent declined right along with it, and we're talking B2B exclusively there. It doesn't matter if we're talking about Nike. It doesn't matter if we're talking about something that's highly technical, highly B2B. Emotional marketing is very powerful.

    Where is all this taking us? Well, a lot of companies are recognizing the power of emotions and the emotion recognition technology market is exploding growth. MarketsandMarkets expects this market to grow to over $22 billion in size in just a few years, by the year 2020 and so you look at companies were located in Boston, here, local company, Affectiva, they're an emotion AI company, motion analytics and they've received $34 million in funding around emotion recognition.

    You look at Apple, let's just go back to Apple as an indicator of where the technology world is going. Apple filed a patent two years ago, I'm sorry, actually in 2014 that identifies a person's moods simply by recognizing their bodily signals. It could be facial expressions that will indicate to the software the mood of the person. Apple went a step further last year and they bought an emotion recognition technology company called Emotient. You might say, "Okay, well where is all this going? Where is all this taking us?" Well, what I'd like you to understand, what I'd like you to plan for is that emotion recognition technology is going to be embedded all around us. We're not even going to know that it's deeply embedded in all of our environments in the future. For example, in the future, it's going to be embedded in computers, in browsers, in smartphones, in tablets, even you jump in your car, in your dashboard and so just get ready for emotion recognition, revolutionizing marketing and really offering you a lot of new opportunities.

    Okay, so that was a big one, emotion. Now let's see what else plays into reaching your target audience on a subconscious level. Let's talk about deviation and surprise. One thing we often think is that okay, we write a marketing message. We have a webpage. We have a blog. We have an advertisement, whatever it is and we feel that everyone is reading every single word. It just ain't the case. It just ain't so. The human mind naturally wanders on average 30% of the time and can easily wander 60%, 70% of the time and I mentioned this to you the other day, if you look at my daughter studying homework, it's about 99% of the time. Human beings by nature, our brains wander and part of that is because of cognitive overload. We are dealing with so much input all the time. Our brains are inundated with information and the only way that we can survive this as a species is to filter out a great deal of that content, and so wandering, a wandering mind helps us maintain our sanity and to filter through the 3,000 to 5,000 marketing messages that we're rifling through every single day.

    Surprise is something that's very important and deviation is something that's very important and how do we know that say, let's just say surprise as an example, how do we know that surprise is that important from a marketing perspective. A neuroscientist, Gregory Berns, down at Emory University and his team ran some really interesting experiments where they found that the human brain actually reacts to surprise with more enjoyment than actually things that we like. Think about that. Surprise actually causes more enjoyment than things that we like. You think of novels, you think of movies, you think of the entire entertainment complex, that's why it exists. It exists to surprise us. That's why we enjoy entertainment so much is because it's full of nonstop surprises for us. It's really new. If entertainment were predictable, when you knew what was coming next, it would actually be boring. Our minds would start wandering, going back to the wandering mind.

    Our brains are trying to predict what's going to happen next. Again, if you're dealing with 3,000 to 5,000 marketing messages a day, and that doesn't even include social media, if we're dealing with that much cognitive overload, what we naturally are trying to do, what our brain is trying to do is predict, trying to predict what's going to happen next. Carmen Simon, who wrote the book Impossible to Ignore, which again I strongly recommend that you go out and buy. It's a fantastic book. She talks about how the brain is actually a prediction engine. That's the purpose. The brain's divided into old brain, the mid brain and the new brain. The old brain is our mechanism for fight or flight. It goes back to prehistoric times where back in the very beginning, our brains were really just looking at things from the perspective of survival and is this something to eat, is this something that I should be scared of, is this something that I have to pay attention to or can I ignore it, and if we overlap this with cognitive overload, what you find is that as much as possible, as the gatekeeper to all information that enters your brain and it all goes through the old brain first, that is your gatekeeper. Nothing passes through there without going through the old brain first.

    The brain is trying to predict whether you should pay attention to it, whether you should spend more time on it or whether you should just dismiss it out of hand. Surprise is fantastic in that it's a prediction-er. It naturally grabs your brain's attention and kind of forces you to get past the gatekeeper, get past the old brain so that you can get to the more emotional states of the brain.

    Let's look at this in action from a marketing perspective. If we look at Birchbox, why is Birchbox so successful? Surprise. You get something in the mail and it's always a surprise. You don't know what you're going to get. How about going to a concert like Fish, where every single concert, they have a different playlist and that's part of the enjoyment, because of the surprise. You don't know what that playlist is going to be because they change it up every single time. You look at a company like Blendtec. Blendtec is an interesting example where okay, they had a new VP of Marketing, George Wright, who comes in, almost zero budget, he has no money to work with because they're putting all their money into product development. It's a very engineering focused organization and he's wondering how he's going to compete against the 800 pound gorillas in the industry and he doesn't have a budget. He doesn't know what to do and he's walking on a factory. One day, he spots Tom Dickson, the founder and the CEO of Blendtec, putting a two by two into one of the blenders. He's like, "What in the world is going on?"

    He's seeing all the sawdust all over the place and he learns that actually, the CEO commonly does this to test the blenders, to test the power of the blades and so Wright thinks, "Wow, this is fantastic. This is a fantastic way to shock and awe our audience.", and again going back to deviation, do something completely different, surprising the brain. They created a series called Will it Blend? What they do is they put iPads in, they put iPhones in, they put marbles, they put golf balls, they put diamonds in. They put a Justin Bieber CD in to see if that blends and they keep on seeing what will blend and what won't blend. Obviously everything blends. They even put a crowbar in. It's a really fantastic series, and again, it's 100% built on deviation. You would never see KitchenAid coming out with a series like this. You will never see the standard players in the market coming out with a series like this, so it's deviation. It grabs your attention. It's a prediction error for the brain and that why it's so much fun and so engaging and it's so memorable.

    Let's look at another example. I had the good fortune of speaking with the President of Domino's a few months ago, Russell Weiner and super, super nice guy and he was telling me all about the transformation of Domino's when they were having an introspective phase where for decades, their claim to fame was they'll deliver in 30 minutes or less or your money back. That was a great message in the 60s, in the 70s and 80s. However today, everyone delivers food, absolutely everyone. You can get food delivered anytime, anywhere, anyhow. It's not a differentiator, and Domino's recognized this. They said, "Okay, well how are we doing?" They brought together a bunch of focus groups and people started letting them have it and they said, "Yeah, your pizza takes like cardboard or your sauce tastes like ketchup." This is actual feedback from focus groups.

    Think about what your brand would do in this situation. The standard PR protocol would be defend, defend, defend, defend, defend to the end. Instead, what Domino's decided to do was to deviate from the norm, do what no other brand was willing to do and shock the heck out of everyone by telling the truth and admitting, "Yes, our pizza tasted like cardboard." Then they went and they changed it and they spent months exploring lots of different cheeses, lots of different sauces, lots of different ingredients, lots of different ways of making their pizza, lots of different ways of making dough and it turned into something much better that their audience was very happy about.

    That's a really great story but it goes even further. Russell's telling me, one time there was a pizza that was delivered to someone's house, and okay this brand new pizza tastes great, great new toppings, great new sauce, everything's fantastic but everything had fallen off the pizza on the way to their house. It slid off. The customer called up and they were complaining. What did Domino's do? Well, if this was standard PR procedure, what do you do? Defend, defend, defend, not our problem, not our fault, Domino's was different. They deviated from what everyone else in the industry would have done. They called over a TV crew and they filmed it and they filmed the ingredients off of the pizza and they said this will never happen again. They even called out the name of the local outlet that delivered the pizza. Why? Because they were so 100% committed to great quality and a great pizza experience that they said, "Look, everyone, down to the very last person at Domino's across the entire country has to be equally 100% committed to a great customer experience."

    We're going to be 100% authentic in telling you everything that's happening behind the scenes, unlike anyone else in the industry. Again, going back to deviation and surprise, being that honest, being that authentic. Most companies, when they talk about authenticity, they'll go 90% of the way there, they go 95% but Domino's, they went 100% of the way there and that's what made it so awesome.

    You might say, "Okay, great. That sounds great in theory but how does that translate in terms of business results?" Since the campaign launched, Domino's has become the fastest growing restaurant in the country. I'm not talking about fastfood only. I'm not talking about fast casual. I'm not talking about Hyatt. We're not talking about a segment. We're talking about across every segment of the restaurant industry, the fastest growing. Shock and awe, shock and awe, it works.

    One thing to keep in mind is surprise, deviation, it's all very powerful and it actually amplifies your feelings, so going back to emotional marketing. Remember how powerful we were talking about emotional marketing is in producing better marketing results. Surprise plays right into that because it amplifies your feelings. The advice that I have for you is whatever you do, do not be boring. Do not do the same old, same old. Do not do what's predictable and it doesn't mean that you have to be wild and crazy. It doesn't mean that you have to put marbles and diamonds and Justin Bieber CDs into a blender. You can do it your way. It can be much more professional. That's fine, but you do want to have that element of surprise and you really want to deviate from the norm in the industry, so that you are that prediction error in the brains of your audience.

    Let's just take a moment to go back to the Super Bowl example. If you look at the Super Bowl, was that emotional? Absolutely, a very emotional experience and did it include a lot of surprise? Absolutely, it included surprise after surprise after surprise. No one thought that the Patriots would come back from 25 down, yet they did through a lot of very surprising plays like the Edelman play that I referenced earlier. You can see here the parallels between an awesome event like the Super Bowl and what your marketing should strive to become.

    Okay, so how else can we connect with your audience on a subconscious level? Again, just to remind you, 90% of their purchase decisions are based on the subconscious. We talked about emotion, we talked about deviation, we talked about surprise. How about vision? A lot of times, what you're doing in your marketing or what you see others doing in their marketing is they're trying to explain things. They're trying to make sure that you understand and they're trying to be very accurate in those explanations.

    That's okay but if what you're trying to do is have paragraph after paragraph of text in explaining why your service is so great or why your product is so great or why your customer service is so great, you might be missing a key ingredient and that is visual. The human brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. I didn't say six times faster. I didn't say 600 times faster. I didn't even say 6,000 times faster, 60,000 times faster. That's incredible and we can learn from it. What that means is that the brain, the brain really learns. The brain really intakes information through visuals. Actually, half of the brain's brain power, the neurons, are dedicated to the vision system. Over time, the evolutionary fight between our sense of vision and our sense of smell is going the way of the sense of vision. A lot of the neurons that had been dedicated for smell have been going away.

    Here's a real life example that hopefully will prove to you just how powerful vision and visual marketing is. John Medina, in his book Brain Rules, gives this great example where the scientist brought together the world's greatest wine tasters to the epicenter of wine country, Bordeaux, France, and gave each of them a glass of wine. Fantastic, right? The wine was white wine, it was actually white wine, but before they handed off each glass, what they did was they put a few drops of odorless red dye, so it looked like red wine. The only difference was a visual difference. It was white wine but from a visual perspective looked like red wine.

    Out of 54 of the world's best wine tasters, how many do you think described the wine accurately as a white wine? Do you think 50%? Do you think 25% got it right? Did 10% got it right? 1%? Try a big fat doughnut, zero. No one got it right and these are the best in the world. Why? Because they were tricked because of vision. That was the only difference and that's how powerful vision is in your marketing.

    There's something called the pictorial superiority effect, so PSE. What that is is the more visual the input to your brain, the better recognition and the better recall your brain is going to have. Look at it this way. Someone comes to your website and let's say that they're reading text. After 72 hours, they will remember 10% of what they read. Add visuals to make it visual and they will remember 65%. Where else in your marketing can you get a six times return on your investment? Make it visual.

    Another example, proving the point, driving this home. Again, in Medina's book Brain Rules, he gives another great example where there was a study done where 2,500 pictures were shown to individuals only for a few seconds each. 2,500 photos. Imagine going through 2,500 photos. Going through 100 photos is a lot. Imagine going through 2,500. Only a few seconds spent on each one and then after three days, how much do you really think that you would remember? What this study found was that people remembered actually 90% of the photos across 2,500 in three days. After one year, they remembered 63%, which is still incredible if you consider that they hadn't seen those images for a year.

    Again, vision's very powerful in terms of communication and information processing, recall and recognition and also let's look at social and sharing as well. BuzzSumo found that Facebook posts with an image actually get 2.3 times more engagement than those without a photo. Buffer found that tweets with an image are retweeted 150% more of the time than those without an image. This spans across all aspects of your marketing whether we're talking about transactional, whether we're talking about social media, it's all the same. Make it visual.

    Again, going back to the Super Bowl example, that is purely a visual event. You don't even need necessarily to listen to the sound. You can still have a very emotional and engaging experience with your marketing. Again, emulate that whole experience. How can you make it more visually engaging?

    On the topic of vision, why don't we talk specifically about color and how color plays into this. This is pretty interesting. Color increases brand recognition by 80% and so what you want to do is be very intentional with the colors that you're using in your marketing. You can see this all over the place. Let's just talk about Starbucks. Green, right? As soon as I say Starbucks, what do you think? You think green. That's what you think. Yet what happens if you're taking the same exact product, no different, no difference in the product and we do this, and we're talking about Dunkin Donuts, you think of orange and pink. Same exact product, if we're talking about Starbucks, you think green. If we're talking about Dunkin Donuts, you think orange and pink.

    That's the power of color. It happens in milliseconds. You recognize these brands in milliseconds. If we took away the logos, you would still recognize that it's Starbucks. You would still recognize that it's Dunkin Donuts. That's the power of color and that's how intentional and consistent you need to be with colors in your marketing. One brand, which I love their use of color is Virgin Airlines. You walk on to a plane and you see their stewardesses and you see their lipstick, and guess what? It's their brand color. That's right. They have a lipstick that is their brand color. That's taking it to an extreme but they get it. They get the power of color.

    Another brand that really gets the power of color is T-Mobile. I love their marketing. You see the magenta and the white and then the black everywhere, no matter what they're doing, whether it's in print, whether it's on TV, whether it's digital, whether it's social, whether it's their website, no matter what it is, whether it's a live event, you're going to see their colors. Lots of brands do that, you might be thinking, but how about this? How many brands do you see where the CEO walks around in the brand colors all the time every single day? Now that is understanding the power of color.

    This leads to another area where we can connect with the subconscious mind, which is cognitive fluency. You'll see that vision and color play into this quite significantly. Google ran a really interesting study in 2012 trying to understand how quickly the brain reacts to a website that it's looking at. What Google found was our brains react very quickly and recognize very quickly whether we feel that that website looks fantastic, whether we think it's a great design, whether we think it's a professional design, whether we think it's a professional organization, whether we think it's trustworthy, all these things that come out of recognition of what we're looking at. That's before we see any testimonials, any case studies, anything like that, new trust factors so we are within a very short period of time when your audience is on your website. They are making decisions very, very rapidly. How quickly you might say? Does it take maybe, I don't know, a couple of seconds? No, not even that long. How about one second? Not even that long. Try 50 milliseconds. That's what Google found.

    It takes 50 milliseconds, right, blink of the eye and we are automatically making judgements about a brand even though we haven't read the details of the products, we haven't read the details of the services, we haven't read the case studies yet, it doesn't matter. That's how quickly our brain starts making decisions as to how we feel about a brand and that's why you need to pay attention to cognitive fluency and so what's happening is think of it like a production line, like a factory. You have a production line, it's manufacturing something. That's what's happening with our input of information to the brain so information hits the retina, that is translated and is sent out to the various parts of the brain and then we have to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together and making sense of it. Now this happens very rapidly, but what happens when it takes longer? When it's just a little bit more difficult and it's a little bit more confusing?

    We don't like it so in other words, if something is a little bit more complex, a little bit more confusing, our brains do not like that extra amount of effort and that translates into emotional reactions. We don't like that brand so a brand, it's very simple. It's very simple to understand, right? Very direct, we immediately can decipher what we're looking at. We can immediately decipher the messaging. Our brains can process that faster and that translates into more enjoyment and that translates into a better brand experience. Simply by being, it can be the same exact message, right? It'd be the same exact message, yet if you're being a little bit more direct, a little bit simpler to understand, your audience can react very differently.

    It can be, the difference between a good brand experience and a bad brand experience so what I would recommend is the K.I.S.S. principle. Keep It Simple Stupid, right? Just keep it simple. Keep it as simple as possible. Don't try and impress people with how much you know and how complex your offering is. Go the other way, hide the complexity, translate the complex into the simple and facilitate cognitive fluency because that translates into good feelings. It translates into a good brand experience.

    We talked a little bit about trust. Let's go into deeper detail here so this is also a really interesting way that you can connect with your target audience on a subconscious level very powerfully. Okay, how many of you watched a TV sitcom in your life? Me too, probably most of you have and how many of you have heard the canned laughter? Me too, and how many of you hate the canned laughter? Me too. We all do, right? We've all seem to can laughter, we can't stand it so why in the world do the TV executives demand, they demand that there is canned laughter on every show when they know that everyone hates it. Even they hate it, so why do they demand it? It's because studies have shown that with canned laughter, not only do we laugh louder, we also laugh longer. We laugh louder, we laugh longer when we hear other people laughing.

    What is that? It's social proof. When we see or hear other people doing something or behaving a certain way, that registers automatically in our mind that it's okay to do that. It lowers the barriers for us to do it, right? We get past the gatekeepers by having that social proof. This great book by Robert Cialdini called Influence. Strongly recommend, you run out and you get it if you haven't read it yet and he talks about the major elements of persuasion and social proof is one of the key, one of the top influencers of how you behave and how your target audience behaves and so you can see this when we're looking at canned laughter, but I'll give you another good example.

    Years ago in a prior life as in a different agency, and one of our clients was Constant Contact, the email marketing company, email marketing software company. Our agency at the time was doing paid search for them and one of the things that the team found was even though the assumption was, oh, well, it's email marketing, right? So wouldn't the most powerful type of marketing be something that speaks to ROI. Buy our software and you'll achieve ROI. Well, in testing, that actually wasn't the most powerful. It wasn't producing the best marketing results, so what was?

    Social proof. Talking about, "Oh, we have 200,000 customers.", or, "Oh, we have 300,000 customers using our soft.", that was the most powerful and so translating that from the advertising testing, they then put that into all of their marketing whether it was the home page or any type of campaign that they were doing to produce very substantial results and they grew at a phenomenal rate based on that, to all build on social proof.

    What's a good example to show you? Well, let's look at Basecamp, the project management software company so this is interesting. You go to a landing page and says, "Last year alone, Basecamp helped over 285,000 companies finish more than 2 million project." That's a lot of social proof, right? What's more effective than even that? You think that, that's pretty effective right? How about this, if I go to a different landing page, sign up now for free below. Just last week, 8,050 companies got started with Basecamp three so this is actually more powerful, why? Because of specificity. Being more specific makes us trust more. It sounds more trustworthy and the whole idea of social proof and trust, it extends out to word of mouth as well. For example, we will value and we will trust online revues just as much as we trust opinions from personal contacts. In fact, 88% of people will trust an online review just as much as from a personal contact. 91% of B2B buyers rely on word of mouth recommendations before they will make a purchase and so social proof, very, very powerful.

    All right, so we've covered a lot of ground, let's talk about, okay, we've communicated a lot of messages. How do we get them to remember us? Let's say we break through all the clutter. Let's say we capture their attention. We engage with them, but how do we get them to remember us? One thing to really understand is that the brain remembers information by encoding it so think of it this way, if you've ever driven in the snow, right. Let's say you're in your driveway and your driveway hasn't been plowed yet or you haven't shoveled it out yet and you drive your car, you'll have these grooves for the tires, right. Then if you come back later in the day and it's iced over, it's really hard to drive anywhere, but within those grooves. If you try, it's very difficult and so your car naturally fits into those grooves and that's exactly how we remember things. Our brain likes to encode patterns. It's looking for patterns and the more that you can be consistent in your marketing and repeat the message, the more that your brain can encode these messages.

    Now you might say, "Hey, Tom, wait a minute. You just told me that deviation and surprise was really important. Now you're telling me consistency is important. What gives?" All right, so I'll tell you what gives. You need both, right? Look at Blendtec, what do they do? They did the shock and awe approach. They were grinding things up that you would never ever expect, shock and awe, right, but then they continued the series. They did video after video after video after video of Will It Blend, right? It's a pattern that encoded in people's brains, right and that led to their fast growth. If they had done one video of Will It Blend, and then they moved on to another campaign and then another campaign and then another campaign, you're not allowing your audience the time to encode your patterns in your marketing messaging. It's the same with Like A Girl. It's the same with Just Do It. It's the same with Think Different. These iterations on the same deviation can be very, very effective, but you do need to repeat yourself.

    One quick note on how human memory is different than computer memory, but hopefully will help you in your marketing is, okay, with a computer, you can actually search a database to find a specific piece of data. No problem, and it will find that piece of data. The human brain, what happens is if you search for a specific piece of data, it will naturally also bring along all of the associations that come along with that piece of data and so you might be remembering watching the Superbowl, but then you're remembering what you ate and then you're remembering who you were with and you're remember the joke that they told, after that Edelman catch and then you were remembering everyone screaming and the popcorn flying everywhere, and you're remembering all the associations. A computer can just pick out that screen, that one screen from the Superbowl, your brain can't. It automatically associates with the experience, right?

    It associates other senses and so what you want to do with your marketing is, think how can we be focused on evoking as many senses as possible, right, and so if you're a retailer, you might think about how can we invoke smell into the equation when you walk into our store or if we're talking about digitally, how can we engage with you from a visual perspective, but also from a sound perspective? Okay, well, let's do video to achieve that, right? There are different ways to achieve it, but you want to just focus on how can we touch upon as many sense as possible because that helps people remember you. Going back to consistency, and I know I'm going to butcher the pronunciation of this so I apologize ahead of time, but there's something called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, which is think of it as this.

    Have you ever gone to a car dealership or you're looking online for a car and you see a cool red sports car and you're like, "Ooh, that is awesome. I want that." Then all of a sudden, even though you've never seen that car, that specific model before, on your way home, you see it three or four times and then the next day, you see it on the highway. Then the next day you see it in the parking lot of your office so what's happening is because of cognitive overload, your brain is actively trying to distill as much information as possible and filter it out, right. We're talking about, remember the old brain is trying to be the gatekeeper and keep as much out as possible so that you can keep your sanity. What happens is through enough repetition, once you hit upon the time when your audience really is engage with you, when they're at the right time, they're paying attention at the right time, you finally cut through all the clutter, then they're going to start seeing you over and over.

    This is exactly why Coca-Cola advertises all the time. They're not expecting you every single time you see their ad, they, "Oh, soda. I should run out and grab a soda." They know you're not going to do that, but it's because of this phenomena, they know that the more that they can just keep repeating a consistent message and one of those time, they're going to hit you at the right time. They're going to hit you at the right time when it does sink in, when you engage with it and you remember it and then it becomes much easier for you to then recall over and over and over, leading to more, a more likelihood of sales.

    Finally, let's just look at pricing and we'll look at this pretty quickly because I know we're short on time. If we look at using neuroscience to optimize the customer acquisition process, we've been looking at a lot of top of the funnel ideas. We've been looking at a lot of middle of the funnel ideas. Pricing is one right down at the bottom of the funnel, right when you're ready to convert. One of the things you should know is as you're displaying your pricing, the longer, physically the longer your display is of that price, the more expensive your audience is going to feel the price is and it could be the same as that price. Example, $1,000 could be dollar sign, one, comma, zero, zero, zero, decimal point, zero, zero, very long. It's exhausting even to say, right and it's exhausting for your audience to think it because they do think it. They think it in their heads when they're seeing it and it's exhausting and it seems very expensive.

    If you instead just have dollar sign, one, zero, zero, zero, much shorter, it feels cheaper. If you have dollar sign, one K, that's also $1,000. $1,000 feels cheaper. If you're looking at numbers, round numbers, tend to evoke an emotional type of reaction, we process it emotionally. If it's an irregular number, maybe like this number here, $1,249.67, you trigger a rational thought process and so it really depends on what type of reaction you want your buyers to have. Whether you want them to be more on the emotional side like a luxury product, right, or whether it is trying to prove how much you did calculate this out. Maybe you're in the remodeling business and you need to prove that this is on a formula, these are real costs so you might prefer a more rational approach.

    When I was at Panasonic in Japan at the start of my career, what we would always do is whenever we would release a product, we would release a second product that was more expensive, knowing that 95%, 97% of buyers would opt for the lower cost product. This is called anchoring, right. Anchoring their minds, thinking, "Oh, that lower cost product is cheap. It's cheaper. You're going to save money." Well, you're not saving any money. You're spending the same amount of money, but we're anchoring the price by adding something that's more expensive right next to it and we would always, on the shelf, we would all run the website, we would always, always, always show the more expensive one right next to it. It would drive more sales, very effective.

    Professors at Stanford University and Columbia University ran some interesting tests, which found that, you know you can actually provide people with too many options and that, that can lead to purchasing paralysis so it's not always that the more options the better. In fact, that can really hurt your sales. In this case, just very quickly, I'll tell you that in the case where they were studying six options of jam in supermarkets versus 24 options for the same jam, by offering six options, so by offering 75% fewer options, they increased orders six times over. Six times increase in sales.

    We went through the funnel. We looked at a lot of different ways that you can connect with your audience on a subconscious level to drive them towards the actions that your brand values. Hopefully, you found this very helpful and educational. Hopefully, it's going to help you become a better marketer and one thing I'll just leave you with is I'm in the process of publishing a book. It will be published in the coming month and the book is called Rethink Your Marketing, and I just want to offer to all of you an exclusive opportunity to download the first chapter of the book for free and if you go to, you can download a free chapter and then I'll be sure to followup with other freebies and bonuses for you as well and I'll notify you in the coming month when the book is actually published. Again, and you can get your free chapter. That wraps up, Amanda.

    Thank you so much, Tom. That was so interesting and you know all this talk of neuroscience really got my own brain and my own memories to ring especially that part about the laugh track.


    I'm suddenly getting all these flashbacks of growing up, watching The Nanny so I don't know if partook in that in the 90s, but I certainly did, but thank you so much for being here.

    Thank you.

    Again, this webinar today was brought to you by the HubSpot Academy, which is the free training division of HubSpot, offering online courses for marketers, sales people and designers. Please feel free to learn more at Tom, really a pleasure once again to be working with you. It was such so great to have you here today.

    Thank you, Amanda.

    Take care, and have a great weekend everybody.

    Thank you, everyone.
  • Amanda Zantal-Wiener
    Amanda Zantal-Wiener
    Senior Staff Writer, HubSpot Marketing Blog
  • Tom Shapiro
    Tom Shapiro
    CEO of Stratabeat, Inc.

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