3 Ways to Communicate and Market Effectively to the Brain

Here are 3 ways to communicate effectively to the brain:

1) You want the brain to remember your marketing message for as long as possible: in the short run, and the long term. You need to repeat your messages often for that to happen. Also, activate emotions and provoke the senses in the reader’s or viewer’s brain, so that you can register the message better.

2) Use pictures to back up your words.  Pictures speak a thousand words, remember? The brains remember things much better by pictures, and not through texts.

3) The brain can only focus effectively (I mean effectively, not half-heartedly) on one thing at a time. So focus your marketing message on just one key theme.  ONE theme.  ONE message.

Mind of the Consumer. Every marketer wants a piece.
Mind of the Consumer. Every marketer wants a piece of it.

Associate a Strong Feeling to your Brand

Can increased heartbeat from a Shaky Bridge be good for your brand?
Can increased heartbeat from a Shaky Bridge be good for your brand?

Excitement can add liking to your brand.  So how can you generate more excitement and liking for your brand?  Let’s start with a little background study first.

An experiment was done on two groups of people.  For the first group, the participants had to cross a normal, stable bridge to get to the other side.  At the other side of the bridge is a decent looking female researcher who gives out her phone number freely to all participants.  Similarly, the second group is made to go through a bridge also, but this time, the bridge is a shaky, rickety one.

So what were the results?  The second group had far more participants who called the lady after crossing the bridge.  The guys mistook the excitement they had in crossing the bridge to liking the girl.  Their heartbeat increased when they saw the girl, so that mistakenly implied that they must have liked the girl then.  This caused a lot of them to call the girl up after the experiment.

When the car Scion was launched in America, they invited young people to a cool concert with famous pop singers.  The excitement they had at the concert was passed on to the car brand, and a lot of them ended up liking the car after the event.  Something you can do for your brand too?

7 Tips to Increase Brand Recall

Every marketer wants a piece of a consumer’s brain.

How do you increase brand recall in today’s era of hypercompetition?  If you are the leading brand, how do you maintain your sales lead with perpetual launches by new competitors?  How do you increase not just share of voice, but share of mind?

Here are on 7 tips on how to increase brand recall:

1) Start consumers on your products as early as possible.  Car manufacturers are seeding teenagers with car branding when they are still in high school.  There are toys branded with real life car brand names, and guess who do they reach?  The junior school kids!

2) Link your product attributes with something relevant.  If you are promoting fast cars, show striking visuals of rockets or cheetahs running next to your products.  If you want to link with ‘freshness’, show colourful pictures of fruits along with your products.

3) Make using your products a daily habit.  If you sell lip balms, educate your consumers to put on lip balm after they have applied their daily moisturizers.

4) If you suffer from a large portfolio of line extensions and products, highlight your bestsellers.  Tell your consumers the 2-3 items that are the most popular to make buying decisions faster, and your key products easier to remember.

5) Use nostalgic visual icons or ads to bring back old memories.  Old memories are just that, they don’t fade with time.  Bring back the childhood ads that your consumers have seen.  It will generate warm feelings and buzz, and that’s good for recall.

6) Celebrities may sometimes distract consumers from your products, but they generate heck of a lot of recall.  It makes your products more familiar to consumers.

7) Use word of mouth marketing.  WOM marketing apparently is able to generate more positive emotions in customers compared to normal, traditional ads.  This increases brand recall.

Proper Brand Research

There are some key attributes that you need to research on to determine brand health.  Here they are:

Brand awareness (top of mind, aided)

Brand preference

Brand importance

Brand accessibility

Brand value (benefits divided by cost)

Brand differentiation or brand promise, and satisfaction against the brand promise

Check ownership of each important attributes in that category

Brand usage or brand used most often

Brand emotional connection, such as self expression or trust

Brand imagery or brand character

Do a perceptual map of important attributes, and how strong or weak your brand is in each category. If your brands are small, you will need to use deeper differentiation and more clutter breaking advertising style.

Marketing or Brand Plan

When you do your annual or semi-annual marketing or brand plan, here is a list of essential components in the plan:

Objectives.  What is your marketing plan to achieve: Get new customers?  Increase trials?  Increase repeats?  Increase awareness?  Increase loyalty?  Value reframing?  Increase emotional bonding?  New product launches?

What are the strategies and tactics?  Do include components such as product, packaging, pricing, distribution, advertising, publicity, sales promotion, and selling.  Also include point of sale merchandising, event marketing, sponsorship, cause related marketing, co-marketing, and websites.

Financial profit and loss statements will detail how you allocate your advertising and promotion investments, and where you will control costs to give healthy profit margins.

Also include consumer research on qualitative data, concept testing, and quantitative surveys.

Increasing Brand Recall

If you want more people to remember your advertisement or brand, you need to work harder.  No point producing typical auto ads with shimmering body parts and dusts of clouds as your car zooms past.  It’s been done to death.  You need something that you can link to.  A memorable device.  Like the bunny for Energizer.  Or a color theme that differentiates you from your competitors.  A pink color hair salon from walls to uniforms?  A great linkage was born when Gajol lozenges brand published an article on how Pavarotti could have used it to salvage his cancelled concerts.  Free endorsement that worked extremely well for Gajol.

Try giving a typical sound to your product, like the popping sound of Pringles can.  How about the Intel tune in its advertisements?  Or Nokia’s tune when you start up your Nokia handphone?  The iconic iPod turning wheel that is recognizable world wide?

Jingles are also powerful.  There’s a brand of chocolate roll called ‘London Choco Roll’ in Asia that advertises frequently in Asia, so frequent that kids are singing the jingles everywhere.

How about sex?  The truth is, love sells better than sex.  Wholesome and more natural models in ads apparently sold more merchandise than ads with sexy and provocative women, but about two times more.  Why is that so?  The wholesome and more natural models are closer and more relevant to the woman on the street.

Testimonies and home videos made by real people often increase the authenticity of ads, which sell products better.  Ordinary people with stories to tell can move products faster than fabricated sexy models that are paid huge amounts to endorse products.

The brand called ‘Virgin’

I have always admired the brand Virgin, as it reminded me of the David vs. Goliath story.  Virgin is started by Richard Branson, a seemingly small, unknown guy from UK, who took on the big guys in many categories.  He defied normal business conventions, and created products and services that he himself will be pleased with.

He started off with a chain of music record stores, and grew mega Virgin Record stores around the world in the 90’s.  Then came Virgin airlines, the next venture he had.  He travelled frequently and complained about the boring flights he had.  So he set up Virgin airlines to provide better services, fighting against big companies such as British Airways.  British Airways try to clobber and choke the new brand, but Virgin succeeded by its unconventional services such as free massages and much better in-flight conditions for economy and business class consumers.  Other services like linkage transports at airports and pampering services during transitions were offered, providing excellent value.

Richard Branson is David, fighting against Goliaths such as British Airways, Coke, Levi’s, British Rail and Smirnoff.  He enjoys winning against these complacent, bureaucratic and unresponsive giants.  Richard is an underdog that cares, innovates and provides outstanding value vs. these giants.

An article on Virgin will not be complete without the outrageous publicity stunts by Branson.  Why did he do all these crazy things?  Low cost publicity and advertising, things loved by all marketers.  He broke the rules of doing business and advertising with a great sense of humor.  Take for example how he appeared in a wedding gown for the launch of his Virgin Brides brand, a wedding planner business.

Understanding Your Competitors

I am always persistent about getting my brands differentiated.  I have seen colleagues who sometimes want to do what competitors are doing so that their brands do not get left behind.  These are good intentions, but can be very wrong sometimes.

Good brands get stronger by getting more and more differentiated (and relevant) as time progresses.  Weak brands get less and less differentiated with time, as competitors copy their positioning, or as the category gets more cluttered.  By getting less differentiated, a brand falls into the ‘being average’ trap.

The first thing to clarify is who are your competitors.  A no brainer?  You will be surprised at how brands sometimes fight against the wrong ‘competitors’, such as TV channels against each other, instead of vs. Youtube.  Here are some tips for you:

1) Ask your consumers who they will consider if your brand is out of stock, or is suddenly priced double vs. before.  Before they start buying your products, what other brands do they consume in place of your brand.  When they shop for your brand, which other brands do they compare it with.

2) To get a more macro view of ‘other’ potential competitors, ask the consumers from the usage perspective.  For all possible usage occasions for your brand, ask the consumers to list brands that they will consider, will buy, or are currently using.

Ideas for Marketing Innovation

When you are planning your marketing plan for the year, or a 3 year innovation pipeline, think of how to innovate in the marketing perspective.  Having a new product to launch is somewhat easier, but what if you have nothing to launch for the year.  Fear not, because you have the weapon of marketing innovation.

First, check the message in the existing campaign, and see if you can squeeze out a fresh spin on it.  Try to vary the use of media, and tweak the marketing mix.  One good idea is to check on what was done in the past.  Check out which activities brought much success, and which were a total waste of time.

Go to consumers to get ideas as well.  Get concepts that can bring out the equity of your brand better.  In just a few sessions of focus group or one to one interviews, you can definitely get a bunch of new concepts that you can test with consumers.  Refine them, and ask consumers what they think of the concepts.

The final avenue to get ideas is to look at your competitors.  You competitors could have valuable consumer insights that you have missed.  Check out their marketing mix and campaign messages.  See if you can come up with a similar campaign, but very much improved or with a different twist.

Investments in Various Advertising Media

I have often had the privilege of handling small brands.  Why?  Because this forces me to think harder about how to spend my money.  When I first handled a small brand, I was really peeved that my colleague at the next cubicle gets to spend a couple of times more than me on advertising, when we both had very good ads to air.

Yes, big brands are sexy, and trust me, they get more visibility.  Small brands are good to test you on your tactical manoeuvres, and how you optimize your budget spendings.  The first thing to note is that you have to be selective on your choice of media.

The mistake of big brands is to spend their money on a lot of channels, just because they can afford to.  My advice is to focus your money on the media type that gives you the biggest return on ROI.  E.g. TV, in store, outdoor, radio and print ads are often ranked in order of awareness creation.  If you have just 2 million dollars, and you need 1.5 million for your TV ad to make an effective impact and 0.5 million on in store advertising, then do so.

The biggest mistake you can do as a small brand owner is to try to allocate 400 thousand dollars each to TV, print, outdoor, radio and in store advertising, as this creates little impact, and you just scratched the surface of each of the media type.