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Pyramid of value – Photo by Holly Stratton

Improve your brand’s worth with the pyramid of value

As a consumer, what are your go-to brands? What do you like about them? Now think of your brand. What do your customers love about it? What gives it an edge over your competitors? These factors determine the value of your brand. The perceived value of your company is vital to its success. When customers consider buying your product, they ask themselves one fundamental question. Is it worth the money? To make their decision, they weigh the price of the product against the perceived value of the product. Most companies tend to focus on the pricing end of the equation. Prices are tangible and easy to modulate and measure. In contrast, psychological factors determine the perceived value of a product. Thus, it is harder to grasp. In this article, we explore the elements that define perceived value. We also explain how to harness their marketing power.

The elements of value

Understanding the things that customers value helps in building a successful brand. However, what is considered valuable? A comprehensive marketing study has explored this exact question. Bain & Company collected loads of customer reviews and derived a set of 30 elements of value. The elements fall into four categories:
  1. Functional;
  2. Emotional;
  3. Life changing;
  4. Social impact.
Let’s explore these four categories to get a better understanding of them.

Functional

In this category, we find 14 elements that add to the functional and practical nature of a product. One example is the time-saving element. Some companies score high on this element by offering a rush delivery service.

Emotional

The ten elements belonging to this category have effects on customers’ feelings. They induce positive emotions or prevent a negative state. Take nostalgia, for instance. The Volkswagen Beetle line is an example of successful use of this element.

Life-changing

The five elements in this category help customers achieve goals, such as health, status and motivation. Spotify taps into the motivation element with a feature for runners. It detects a runner’s tempo and finds music to match it.

Social impact

The pyramid of value
The pyramid of value
The only and influential element in this category is self-transcendence. It is all about making the world a better place. One company that implements this is TOMS. This company donates some of their products and profit to developing countries.

Applying the Pyramid of Value

All of these elements nicely stack to form a pyramid. Moreover, that is no coincidence. The idea that there is a hierarchy of needs has deep roots in psychology (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). The higher you go up the pyramid, the more value you’ll find in the elements. So the top-most element (self-transcendence) is the most powerful. However, don’t be too fixated on those top tiers! Offering a great product is not about fulfilling the most complex consumer needs. It’s about providing a powerful combination of needs. With the Pyramid of value, you have a tool to test the value of your brand. However, before you go and do that, take note of these four basic rules.

1. More is better

It’s great if your company excels in something. Make it your slogan! However, also be sure to put the effort in extra elements of value. Scoring well on multiple elements in the pyramid is a recipe for success. The more elements companies deliver, the higher their loyalty and revenues soar. However, rest assured, your brand does not need to cover the full spectrum of perceived value. Even Apple, one of the companies that deliver the most amount of value, scores high on only 11 elements.

2. Find the elements that are relevant

A pattern of elements that works great for one type of product might not give the same results for another. For example, organising and connecting are essential elements of the smartphone industry. However, these elements don’t play a central role in the clothing industry. The latter focuses more on offering variety and aesthetics. Another essential element of the clothing industry is avoiding hassles. Think of free shipping and a straightforward return policy. To make a great product, you need to understand the pattern of value for the specific product niche.

3. Create a solid basis of functional elements

Let’s continue with the example of the smartphone and clothing industries. If you look up the elements mentioned before, you’ll notice that most of these are functional. In other words, the lowest tier of the pyramid is the most important. The five most essential elements in the smartphone industry are all functional in nature. These are quality, reducing effort, variety, organising and connecting. So none of the shiny higher-order elements! Good products have a solid basis of functional elements. This also makes sense from the perspective of the good old pyramid of needs by Maslow. First, you should have your basic biological needs covered. Only then can you aim for more complex needs.

4. There’s no substitute for good quality

We mentioned that different product niches have different patterns of value. However, there is one element that all industries have in common. For each sector, the most critical customer needs to fulfil is quality. If there’s a significant shortfall on product quality, no other element can make up for it!

Measuring the perceived value of your product

Now that we’ve covered the theory let’s move on to the practical part. How do you get a measurement of perceived value that you can work with to grow your brand? Perceived value is all in the eyes of the beholder: your customers. So the best way is to ask them! Collect reviews and ratings and see how your brand and products perform on relevant elements. Find the gaps that competitors might try to exploit and discover the elements that will form the basis for your next fantastic product. Are you wondering which elements of value should be central to your brand? Want to find out how to harness that knowledge? Get in touch and learn about our tailored services. Let’s make your brand more valuable and make your business grow. With our systematic test plan, you can validate your USPs or value proposition with your customers. Interested? Read the results for MLM Parts here.

Sources

  • https://hbr.org/2016/09/the-elements-of-value
  • https://simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
  • http://www.bain.com/bainweb/media/interactive/elements-of-value/
Do you still think that neuromarketing is only for marketers? You don't have to be a marketer to benefit from neuromarketing

You don’t have to be a marketer to benefit from neuromarketing

The term ‘neuromarketing’ implies that marketers benefit the most from learning applied neuromarketing. But, neuropsychological insights reach a much wider audience than only marketers. Of course, as a marketer, you want to increase conversion rates and persuade customers to buy. But, professionals in other fields can enjoy principles of neuromarketing as well. From CEOs and managers to public speakers or growth hackers. Anybody who wants to achieve behavioural changes becomes more successful using neuromarketing techniques. And that’s everybody.

Remember the subconscious mind?

In an earlier blog post, you read about the two systems that Daniel Kahneman has proposed, System 1 and System 2. The subconscious System 1 forms most of our behaviour. But, models and theories on persuasion techniques intend to influence the customer’s rational mind. You may have experienced that it is not easy to change someone’s opinion or attitude or to prove your point. Kanheman’s dual-coding theory explains that making suggestions for the rational mind hardly changes someone’s behaviour. Instead, you must focus on subconscious processes and the factors that regulate these. Not only applies this to consumer behaviour, but also to societal, political, educational, and economic matters.

Powerful persuasion

Before we act, our brain has already made many decisions. Different theories about the most effective and efficient persuasion tactics are developed. By doing we discovered which buttons to push to persuade someone. Conventional marketers know little about why those buttons work the way they do. Neuropsychology offers an understanding of the human’s brain and behaviour. And neuromarketing hands you the tools to improve your skills. Even though you already master the art of persuasion, applied neuromarketing teaches you why these techniques work.

Cognitive Biases behind persuasion

Cognitive biases are systematic ways of reasoning and decision-making. You can also refer to them as a sort of mental shortcuts. By ignoring irrelevant input from your surroundings, cognitive biases enable the brain to work efficiently. But, these cognitive biases can cause illogicalities in the decision-making process. Whether you are a CEO or marketer, it is beneficial to be aware of our brain’s cognitive biases. We have countless numbers of cognitive biases (currently over 200, and counting). Let’s take a look at a selection of biases that can improve your persuasion tactics the most.

Loss Aversion

The first cognitive bias which is worth a more profound explanation is loss aversion. Loss aversion is the tendency to avoid potential losses at all costs. We experience the pain of losing twice as strong as the pleasure of earning equal gains. That results in some illogical reasoning when making decisions. As a marketer, you can increase your sales by using our reluctance to losing. Well-known tactics are scarcity and urgency. These tactics emphasise the potential losses and thereby increase the desire to own a product. Managers and investors need to be aware of this cognitive bias as well. The reluctance to sell at a loss causes people to hold on to property, even though its value decreases. Because we avoid the risk of losing, loss aversion also results in poorer investments. Framing messages differently change how we perceive the option; appealing or repulsive. The emphasis on either the loss or the savings determines our behaviour.

Anchoring

In the human mind, concepts are not represented as absolute or permanent. We feel the urge to compare all new information immediately to what is presented to us earlier. This first piece of information, the anchor, serves as a reference point. This anchor determines how we perceive the following information. If the anchor is set high, people overestimate the value of the information presented later. If the anchor is set low, you will find opposite results. This tendency to rely heavily on the first piece of information is useful to you. For example, to reduce the pain of paying. By presenting the more expensive product earlier than similar cheaper ones, you make the following products seem a good offer. The buying behaviour of your customers will increases by doing so.

Priming

Priming might remind you of the well-known example of subliminal exposure of Coca-Cola in movies. But priming appears in many different forms and can be applied ethically. Exposure to something in your surroundings subconsciously activates related concepts. These concepts are more easily accessible. That influences the decision-making process both directly and indirectly. Listening to your friend’s experiences in Italy and looking at their photo’s of the Colosseum may result in your choice to have pizza for dinner. Or a reminder that boys are more skilled in mathematics and sports affects the performance at tests or in the field. We dedicated a deep-dive to priming. It is well-known how conceptual priming of your brand or products increases sales. But managers or policymakers can utilise positive priming to improve their employees’ motivation, productivity, and workplace engagement.

Default Bias

When we have a choice between several options, we tend to prefer the status quo. People rather stick to what they already know and have, even though they are aware that it is not the best option. Considering alternatives and dealing with change requires cognitive energy and comes with uncertainty. And we always choose to avoid this. It is even so that what is listed as default option doesn’t influence our decisions. The default bias is a popular way for managers or policymakers to nudge their target audience towards a particular decision. You can help people to make choices that benefit themselves and society by carefully choosing the default option.

Affect Heuristic

If you have ever relied on your gut-feeling when faced with complex choices, you have experienced the affect heuristic. The affect heuristic holds that how we feel determines how we think and act. We tend to choose the option which evokes an association with positive and loving emotions. If you want to guide your target audience to say ‘yes’, it helps to set a positive mood beforehand (insert priming and framing). A positive state relates to a more positive perception of potential risks and benefits as well. Overriding our emotions is a difficult thing to do, but applied neuromarketing helps you to understand the tricks to change the feelings a message evokes.

Endowment Effect

The endowment effect refers to the tendency to ascribe a higher price to products we own. Thereby, our willingness to pay for a good is lower than the price we are willing to sell the same good for. Marketers can put this bias in use by creating a sense of ownership, for example by offering giveaways and free trials, or by adding elements of personalisation. It is a powerful tool for keeping your customers loyal to your brand or services. Investor or CEOs need to be aware of this effect as well. Stockholders, for example, tend to overvalue the shares they bought once they own them. Applied neuromarketing will help you gain a deeper understanding of (almost) all cognitive biases. Ignorance or unawareness of the cognitive biases may hurt your strategies and have adverse effects on growth. However, managers, CEO’s, marketers, or anyone else who take cognitive biases into account can turn the tables and enjoy the advantages of learning applied neuromarketing. Have we persuaded you that acquiring neuromarketing skills benefits everyone, including you? We hope we did. However, all knowledge loses its value when you cannot apply all these insights successfully. Learning how to utilise these techniques in daily life will help you become a better marketer and persuader. It will ensure you to get what you want, whether you carry out an organisational change in your working environment, design the most effective growth strategies for your company, or persuade your manager to give you that promotion. Are you intrigued? Find out more about learning applied neuromarketing in our 1-Day Crash Course.
Why marketers without an understanding of the brain will be extinct in 2020

Why marketers without an understanding of the brain will be extinct in 2020

Marketers and marketing researchers have always pursued to explain, predict, and guide consumer behaviour. Consumers – including you – are constantly influenced by everything they see and experience. The understanding of how behaviour is affected by these experiences provides valuable insights into the reasons why people click, buy, and act. The comparison of marketing vs neuromarketing will convince you of the must to adopt these insights

Conventional marketing

The conventional marketing methods are primarily focused on the consumer’s self-reported opinions on the effectiveness and the likeability of the advertisement. People often think they know why they made a specific purchase or decision. Consumers are assumed to be rational decision makers, weighing every pro and con against each other to find the best outcome. But if we do so, how do we explain our worst decisions and our closets filled with useless purchases?

Indeed, trying to find the reason for those bad choices is very difficult. People appear to be weak at identifying the reasons behind their decisions: the bad ones, but the good ones as well. So, we can conclude that decision-making is not exclusively a conscious process, but mainly a subconscious process. This is why conventional research methods, like interviews and focus groups, fail individually.

Drivers of our behaviour

From our previous posts, you might have understood that all behaviour originates in the brain. Our behaviour is not only directed by logic reasoning, but it is also highly controlled by factors below our level of consciousness, such as prior knowledge or emotions. A good understanding of the consumer’s brain and its subconscious processes is necessary to create opportunities to guide their behaviour and reach the desired goals more efficiently.

Neuromarketing

Comparing marketing vs neuromarketing asks for a clearer the definition of applied neuromarketing. Where neuromarketing research analyzes our emotional and cognitive response to media and marketing stimuli and how this affects our behaviour, uses applied neuromarketing these insights to improve advertisements and marketing strategies. Well-known companies like Booking.com, IKEA, and Coca-Cola already adjusted their strategies with the latest insights and principles neuroscience has to offer. These companies have adopted neuroscientific research to reshape their marketing strategies by branding and design. Improvement of the understanding of consumer perception is an essential requirement for marketers to survive in the future.

The key to survival: information processing

Information processing is the key concept in cognitive neuroscience. Nowadays it is crucial to understand how information enters our brain and how our decisions reach the conscious mind. To create a good understanding of the consumer’s brain and behaviour, we refer to Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman who distinguishes mental activity in System 1 and System 2. More information about the human brain's structure and function you can find in our article What every marketer should know about the brain.

System 1

System 1 is described as the fast, automatic, effortless, intuitive, and subconscious system. It allows us to automatically shift attention to remarkable changes in our environment, make split-second decisions, and prepare for possible dangerous situations. ‘Gut-feeling’ and intuition are terms often used to clarify these activities. It is estimated that 95% of our decisions are made by System 1. That means that nearly all our decisions and behaviours are subconsciously and quickly initiated, primarily based on underlying basic emotions.

System 2

System 2 is mostly known as the slow-processing system. It is controlled, rational, conscious, and follows a standard set of logical rules. Here is where the so-called ‘internal dialogue’ occurs, consciously evaluating multiple reasons and possible outcomes.

Marketing vs neuromarketing

System 1 and System 2 differ in the way they operate in decision-making strategies. Now you will really begin to understand the consumer’s brain! Most marketing campaigns and advertisements are designed to influence the rational mind consciously (yes, System 2). Nonetheless, rational decision making is the exception rather than the rule. As we have seen, the ‘buying brain’ is based on subconscious processes, emotions, and snap judgements. That has to do with the difference in processing speed of System 1 and 2. Where System 2 processes with a rate of 40 bits per second, System 1 has a processing speed of 11,000,000 bits per second. As a result, System 1 will almost always override System 2 when there is competition in the process of decision making.

Thus, effective changes in behaviour must be backed up with a change in the consumers’ subconsciousness, their gut-feeling, towards the subject (System 1).

If appropriately used, emotions are a powerful tool to do so. People buy based on feelings, but justify their purchases with logic and reason. That phenomenon is known as the post-purchase rationalisation bias: the tendency of consumers to persuade oneself afterwards that the purchase was a good value through rational arguments. This is one example of the many cognitive biases we use to make sense of the world rapidly.

Cognitive Biases

Our brain needs to prevent itself from analysing every detail in the constant stream of incoming information to save cognitive energy. To do this it applies a broad scale of cognitive biases, presenting themselves as a sort of mental shortcuts. These biases simplify the enormous amount of information entering the brain and enable a faster decision-making process. Due to insufficient or inferring information, like emotions, our subconscious mind is prone to systematic errors. Yet, cognitive biases provide a foundation for the predictive science of consumer choice, because they result from rationality, and will always bias our responses in the same way. There are around 200 cognitive biases and we’ll explain three below.

Post-purchase rationalisation bias

We’ve explained the post-purchase rationalisation bias. People do not want to feel uncomfortable with the decision they made, so they seek reasons to rationalise their choice. The understanding of this mental shortcut helps us realise the difficulty of changing the decision-making process by System 2. The decision itself is already made by System 1, influenced and biased by our basic emotions. This fact is used in neuromarketing strategies by confirming the choice of the customers. Leading firms already include the neuroscientific perspectives into their marketing strategies.

The bandwagon effect

Another cognitive bias worth mentioning is the bandwagon effect. This bias holds that people tend to do or believe things because many others do or think so too. People often seek social proof and feel the need to belong. The wish to join in with the favourite group creates conformity to the shared group norm. As a marketer, you can use this bias by creating an illusion of popularity, for instance by showing other people’s reviews, ratings, or purchases.

The illusory truth effect

The third bias to discuss is called the illusory truth-effect. People are more likely to believe a familiar statement than an unfamiliar one. We can explain this bias with the ease of cognitive processing: things you are repeatedly exposed to, are more easily processed, and this facilitates liking it. This leads people to believe that the more a statement is repeated, the more truthful it is considered to be. Advertisers ideally want to show you their ad as many times as possible.

We believe that our overall enthusiasm for applied neuromarketing is broadly shared. An understanding of the differences between marketing vs neuromarkeing shows that it is necessary for every marketer to master the art of applied neuromarketing now. Applied neuromarketing presents insights into the cognitive biases that influence the consumers’ behaviour. It enables you, as a marketer, to reveal emotional responses and subconscious cues that help establish marketing strategies, more effective for your intended audience. By understanding these and their effect on the behaviour of individuals and groups, you are able to anticipate reactions and guide your consumers’ behaviour in new and more effective ways. Offering the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ behind our brain and behaviour, applied neuromarketing is here to stay!

In our 1-day Crash Course, you will learn all essential neuropsychological and cognitive insights to become a skilled neuromarketer. Apply here to gain and apply all brain and behaviour knowledge!

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Master the AIDA-model for improved business results

Advertisement in 2018 means competition. If you want to sell, you need to stand out. Be original. Push the right buttons. Convince your target audience. Luckily, marketers have been trying to look for the best and most efficient ways to do this since the beginning of the previous century. This is how they invented the AIDA-model around the early 1900’s. You might have already heard of AIDA because it is a very broad model. It applies to various fields like communication, marketing, and copywriting. You have without a doubt been a target of the model because advertisements are everywhere (unless you live in a secret society somewhere in the mountains). In this article, you will learn about the AIDA-model in more detail. How it relates to marketing and eCommerce and how you can use it for business growth. And all that with a neuromarketing twist. AIDA - Attention, Interest, Desire, & Action

The 4 steps of AIDA

The AIDA-model describes the process an individual goes through when buying a something. This process takes place over time and will often not happen in a day. There are all kinds of influences, changes and fluctuations during the buying process. The worst thing that can happen, is that your prospect leaves before buying your product. There can be several reasons why this happens. For example, your competitor offers a similar product that created more desire. Or the individual saw another advertisement that evoked more interest. To reach the last phase of the process —an individual buying the product— all 4 steps need to be fulfilled in a specific order. The model is an acronym consisting of the following steps:
  1. Attention
  2. Interest
  3. Desire
  4. Action
Grab someone’s attention, get the customer interested and hooked, make sure they desire your product and then get them into action so they will buy it. It is important to remember that one phase needs to be completed before you can reach the next one. Creating desire if you haven’t grabbed someone’s attention is not going to happen. Also, the shape of the model is an upside-down pyramid because you will reach the attention of most, but will not persuade all to eventually buy. We will now discuss every phase in more detail so you can start applying AIDA yourself!

AIDA step 1: Grab their attention

The first phase of the model starts with grabbing someone’s attention. This means your message needs to be noticed by your prospective customer. You need to make them curious and make sure they want to know more. We want to warn you: the importance of attention is often underestimated. Of course, as a marketer, you believe you sell the best product on the market. Keep in mind that you only provide value when others know about this. Your product can be genial and wrapped up in an excellent marketing plan, but if no one ever heard about it, what’s the point?
“Superior sales and distribution by itself can create a monopoly. An extremely superior product without good sales and distribution cannot. — Peter Thiel (co-founder Paypal, Palantir, and Clarium)

Apply it yourself

Human attention is an interesting area explored by psychologists, neuroscientists and biologists. A lot of this research focuses on consciousness or being aware of an external object. How do you attract someone’s attention? By stimulating the senses. The most obvious organ to stimulate for marketing purposes are the eyes. You can advertise on television, publish a website or place a billboard next to a busy road. The key is in making the visual message striking. Here are two ways to do this:
  1. AIDA step 1: Use disruption to draw atention
    Suitsupply attracts attention with their kissing men
    use disruption; you literally grab their attention by disrupting them. You can do this by placing ads in unusual locations or situations. An example of this is the latest campaign by Suitsupply. It evoked a lot of reactions worldwide! The company exposed kissing men to show the attraction between humans. Despite a lot of negative reactions, Suitsupply definitely grabbed the attention of thousands of people.
  2. make your message personal; it’s always nice when someone remembers your name. You can grab their attention and make your customer feel special by using their name in communication. One example how to do this, is starting an email from a campaign with “Hi Milou! Here is our monthly newsletter again” grabs my attention more than a message like “Our monthly newsletter is out again“. Don’t be afraid to get personal with your customers! Emotional marketing is making its uprise.

AIDA step 2: Make them interested

Good, now that you have your customer’s attention, the next step is to make them interested. This step can be a bit more complicated because the product might only be interesting to a specific group of people—your target audience. It is therefore very important to determine this group. Who will need my product and how can I make these individuals interested? In practice, you will have someone’s interest when they pick up your folder or click to your website to read more about what you have to offer. How do you get people to do this?
  • Use the right frame for your content; the way you communicate your message can have a massive impact on your target group. By using the right words and images, you can win or lose someone’s interest. The use of a long, dull text will result in the latter. Try to write original, entertaining or mysterious content.
  • Use social proof to invite questions. We are social animals. When we see that many or similar others are positive about what you offer, we want to know why. This can be a review, case study, or even a statistic. Want to truly optimise your message? Try combining framing and social proof.

AIDA step 3: Create desire

The attention is there. The interest is there. Now it’s time to make your customer want the product. You can create this desire by accumulating positive arguments. Our brain works on associations and we turn everything into stories. Even a purchase. As a marketer, your job is to build a persuasive story in which your offer enhances the quality of life of your buyer. Just remember: features tell, benefits sell.
  • Show off advantages; you can do this by putting your product in a positive context. Why is your product better than the one from your competitor? A technique you can use is positive priming, where you create a positive association for your customer. Showing an image where a happy person uses your product, creates feelings of positivity. You could also combine authority and social proof and ask an influencer for a positive review.
  • Create the feeling of scarcity; we view a product as more valuable when we believe it is scarce. People generally have a Fear of Missing out (FOMO), meaning that we feel regret when not being able to seize an opportunity. Adding a product as a limited edition will increase FOMO and desire.

AIDA step 4: Action!

Create desire
Tony Chocolonely often sells limited edition chocolate
Congratulations! Now that your prospective customer has completed 3 levels of the AIDA-model, we come to the final one: making sure they act on their desire. Some people have already left the process, but the ones interested will need that final push to make it happen. Often there is a barrier that prevents the prospect from buying. In this phase, your job is to overcome any potential objections and motivate action. What can you do to finish it?
  • Make sure your product is easily accessible; even the smallest detail like product positioning in a supermarket can be a gamechanger. For a webshop, a frictionless product selection and purchase process are vital. Any errors or confusion can lead the customer to click away from your page.
  • Write a clear and inviting call to action; you may need to help prospects make the decision. Most people hope that when their offer is good enough, others will act, but any interruption can lead to forgetfulness and a missed chance. If you believe that what you have is good for them, call them to action. It’s even okay to make them feel a little pressured by applying scarcity. The simple fact is, you have to ask for the sale.
With this article, we hope we made you understand one of the most notorious marketing models out there. The AIDA-model is old, but gold. If you master the 4 steps we just explained, your product will be a success. Need any help, or have questions? Contact us!

Social selling with serotonin

Welcome back to Braintalk! A series of brain-related topics to give you, as a marketer, more insight into the brain. With this knowledge, you can improve your marketing strategy and ROI. Last time we talked about dopamine. We hope this excited you because we will continue with these interesting things called neurotransmitters. This week, we will discuss serotonin, a neurotransmitter that shows both similarities and differences with dopamine. We will show you its social function and how you can use this in marketing and eCommerce.

Another happiness chemical

Both dopamine and serotonin are happiness chemicals and can make us feel good. As you learned in our previous Braintalk, dopamine makes us motivated and excited. Serotonin makes us more relaxed, satisfied and suppresses pain. It is amongst other things involved in a few basic activities we (probably) all like to do: sleeping, eating and socializing. Furthermore, serotonin is also involved in cognitive functions like learning and memory. Simply said, without serotonin our brain would not be able to function. Fun fact: we are not the only one carrying this chemical. Biologists found serotonin in other animals and even insects and plants. They argue that it plays an evolutionary role and for some species has a similar role as for us. As far as we know, insects are not happy or sad. But, as an example, for honeybees serotonin seems to play a role in learning and their swarm behaviour. There are many ways to increase your brain serotonin levels: by embracing past achievements, eat healthily or go for a run. Do you experience a little winter depression during the dark months? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. During these months a lack of sunshine lowers our serotonin levels. When we go to summer, exposure to the sun will increase our serotonin levels back again. No wonder we like to go on holiday to sunny destinations. A healthy balance of dopamine and serotonin in the brain results in positive mental health. Whereas an imbalance can lead to insomnia, anxiety and depression. So, if you want to feel good, make sure to keep them balanced!
Sunlight increases serotonin levels
Catch some sun to increase your serotonin and feel good

Selfish versus selfless

You might have heard of Simon Sinek, motivational speaker and marketing guru. In his inspiring video (watch it, it will “change your life” as Sinek says), he discusses modern leadership with a hint of neuroscience. Sinek believes that evolution has shaped us to seek out qualities in leaders. This is important to protect ourselves from danger. Our neurotransmitters tell us what those characteristics of leaders are. Sinek calls dopamine the goal achievement and selfish chemical. Why is it selfish? Because it motivates us to do things for ourselves. Serotonin, on the other hand, is the leadership and selfless chemical. It is selfless because it strengthens our social bonds with others. In our first Braintalk article, you can read what dopamine does in the brain and why it is important for goal achievements. But why does Sinek see serotonin as the leadership and social chemical? Sinek explains that serotonin is released whenever we feel respected and admired. These feelings boost our confidence and make us feel great. Think about a moment where you were admired by others: it sure didn’t make you feel bad! Serotonin is a leadership chemical because it increases whenever others respect us as a leader. In return, their serotonin will also get a boost because they trust you. It strengthens our social bonds.
Trump and serotonin
How high or low do you think, are Trump’s serotonin levels?

Leaders high on serotonin

Remember that we talked about balance? Yin and yang? Just like with most stuff, too much or not enough of something will result in negative outcomes. Sinek explains that leaders who have too much serotonin in their brain—but don’t take their responsibilities—eventually will lose the trust of their group. Once this trust is gone, their serotonin drops, together with their confidence. Leaders that take care of their people will have a healthy balance of serotonin in their brain and are more confident in taking on challenges.

Increase social bonds and trust

Neurotransmitters can influence the behaviour of your customer, too. Remember how sunlight makes you feel happier? This mood change can also impact consumer behaviour. For example, researchers found that when temperatures are low, sunlight can increase sales. We will now focus on how to strengthen social bonds with your customers to get better results. High levels of serotonin will increase feelings of empathy, it connects people and increases trust. There is a lot of research showing that trust can influence your internet business. If you want to make your product more appealing (and your customer happy), make sure your customers trust you. But, just like with the leaders, you need to kéép their trust. High levels of trust and low levels of perceived risk make the magic happen. Here are some examples of how to do this:

Testimonials

Add testimonials from satisfied customers; you might have already done this, but did you also include a picture and their name? Make sure to make the testimonials as personal as possible. In this way, your customer will identify more with the testimonial and as a result empathize more with your product. If you add a picture, try to use positive, bright pictures. Trust in combination with positive priming is a success formula.
Testimonial example
Make your testimonial personal by adding pictures

Badges

Add trust badges to reduce perceived risk; would you buy something from a website that might look a bit dodgy? The internet is still a place where people take advantage of others. Examples of effective trust badges are the ones that show a safe payment method or money back guarantee. With the badges, you create more trust and increase conversion rates. This study found that even 71% of the customers look for a trust badge before doing an online purchase!
Trust badges
Add trust badges to increase conversion rates

Payment gateways

Use payment gateways; again, the internet is a playground for criminals. Credit Card fraud might be your worst nightmare and there’s still a chance this happens if you shop online. If you give your customers the option to pay with a safe and well-known payment service, this increases the chances they will buy something. Paypal or Afterpay are examples of these services. If you choose to use a payment gateway, always add a corresponding trust badge too to show this.
A chatbot can help your customers
A chatbot can help your customers

Support

Make it simple to get help.  Funnel optimisation is crucial for webshop growth. A customer can—with one click—easily leave the funnel. One factor determining the optimisation is how effortless doubts of the customer can get clarified. All relevant info should be easily accessible. Can they send the product back? If so, do they get a refund? Also add contact details like your phone number, email and address in case they want to reach you. It might be most effective to add a chatbot so their questions and doubts can be easily solved. Curious? Read more about how to create a chatbot here and how to optimise one here. Now that you know what serotonin is and how you can use it, it’s time to implement some new features to grow online! Still have questions? Contact us and we’ll help you optimise your conversion with persuasive design, content, or a chatbot!
C-3PO or Threepio from Star Wars - Photo by jens johnsson

Why a chatbot can improve your company

The world is changing. Artificial Intelligence is growing and becoming more and more visible, also in our everyday life. We all have used a chatbot before, but now supermarkets offer you the choice to pay at the grumpy lady of row number four, or quickly scan the groceries yourself and pay without any human interaction. Tesla is making cars where you can almost sleep behind the wheel: they will warn you whenever you drive outside your lane and will make sure you keep enough distance to the car in front of you. Even cleaning your house becomes easier with robot vacuum cleaners that do all the hard work. And you can always ask Siri: “Do I need an umbrella today?” The main idea behind this automatic revolution is to make things easier, faster and simpler for us humans.
Making friends with a 'chatbot' - Photo by Andy Kelly
Making friends with a ‘chatbot’ – Photo by Andy Kelly

March of the chatbots

Where 2008 was the year of the app, 2018 will be the year of the chatbot. Even though the existence of chatbots is not really a new development (the first one was introduced in the early 90’s), more and more companies nowadays are interested in implementing them. Big guys like National Geographic, Starbucks and Duolingo are already getting help from chatbots. You can speak with Einstein, order your coffee or learn Spanish with them. At Duolingo the use of chatbots was a big improvement for people that are embarrassed or scared to practice a foreign language with real humans. “As far as we can tell, computers can’t judge usDuolingo CEO Luis von Ahn says. This shows that the use of chatbots reaches further than only customer service and we can use them in many ways, depending on how creative you are.

Why they work

It’s not a coincidence that the bigger companies already use chatbots in various ways if you look at the advantages they have. We will briefly discuss a few to give you an idea:
  • cost saving: once a chatbot is installed, it will work for free as long as you want and whenever you want;
  • consistency: chatbots can answer questions endlessly, without getting tired or frustrated. They will be as friendly at 1 in the morning as they are at 4 in the afternoon;
  • capacity: a chatbot can speak many languages and can handle multiple conversations at the same time.
Imagine trying to find an employee that has all these features. Someone that works whenever you want, for free and never gets tired. An employee that is able to do all of this will always cost you more – and is definitely superhuman! Moreover, research shows that people don’t seem to care if they are talking to a real human or a robot, as long as their problem is solved.
Chatbot by Snaptravel
Chatbot by Snaptravel

Use in eCommerce

The use of chatbots in eCommerce is also growing significantly. A lot of brands are using them to recommend products, improve communications with their prospects, provide customer service or drive sales. Did you know that people are willing to spend more than $400 through a chatbot? And that 40% of consumers want to receive offers and deals from chatbots? Chatbots nowadays do more than just offer a good deal. They can help consumers identify what product they want and need. In eCommerce, chatbots can be used in the form of site navigation (Shopbot, Snaptravel), lead generation, recommendations (Mica), FAQ, customer data, branding (Nike chatbot) and more. The options are endless. If you’re looking for inspiration, have a look at Topbots’ list of brands and how they get help from chatbots.

Mimic our emotion

The biggest challenge for chatbots is to find a way to replicate our emotions. Human emotion is a fascinating thing and not easy to copy. Feelings and thoughts are non-tangible products of our mind. On the other hand, too much emotion is also not a good thing. A super emotive chatbot may freak out your customers. Recent Artificial Intelligence developments are already this far, that a chatbot has the ability to pick up conversational rhythms and accents. This is possible with so-called natural-language processing (NLP) and creates the possibility to mimic human conversation. Simply said, a chatbot is able to analyze input data, form context and discover new patterns in order to react to spoken or written feed. The whole execution is based on algorithms and based on how the human brain works with its nerve cells (neurons) and their responsiveness to each other.

Create your own chatbot with us

The best news? Chatbots are becoming effective and affordable enough for your eCommerce business. At Neurofied we help our clients in creating a human-like chatbot with Quriobot. By combining neuropsychology and marketing, we’ll improve the online experience of your customers and increase your online sales. Curious? Contact us so we can start creating yours!
Get your dopamine shot

How to use dopamine in your marketing campaigns

Welcome to the first part of Braintalk! A small series of brain-related topics, for you as a marketer to get a better understanding of this interesting organ. We will teach you basic knowledge, what goes on in your customers’ head and how to apply this to marketing and business. We kick-off with explaining something about a very interesting chemical in our brain called dopamine. Sit back, relax and learn.

A dopamine crash course

Okay, let’s start at the very beginning. Some of you may already have some knowledge about the brain, but others probably freak out when reading the word chemical. Chemistry is – as a marketer – probably not your specialism and that makes this whole article even more interesting. For example, did you know that the brain consists of more than 86 billion nerve cells called neurons? That these neurons communicate with each other with electric and chemical signals? And that this rapid communication enables us to move our hand, make a decision or listen to music? Fascinating right? Communication between neurons is called neurotransmission. During this process, neurons release molecules called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters carry a ‘message’ with them and travel to other neurons. The content of this message is dependent on the type of neurotransmitter and influences our body, thoughts or perception in a certain way. They can make us excited, sleepy, hungry or reduce pain. These are just a few examples of many, showing that neurotransmitters are an essential part of the human body.
Neurotransmission of dopamine
Your brain communicates with neurotransmission

Cavemen on the hunt

There are eight major neurotransmitters, with dopamine being one of them. I will not mention them all here because their names probably only make you more confused. Dopamine carries the nickname ‘pleasure neurotransmitter’ and is involved in stuff that makes us feel good. A hit of cocaine, licking an ice-cream or hitting the jackpot are all reasons for dopamine to be released in the brain. More specific, goal achievement and motivation are related to this neurotransmitter. Mother nature created this pleasure molecule not completely without reason. Let me explain this by looking back at the time of our ancestors and cavemen. Their life was all about survival. No food equalled the possibility of starvation, so they probably spent most of their life hunting for a nice piece of meat. What does dopamine have to do with this? It made them focused and motivated to complete their hunt and bring food back to their cave. When being hungry and seeing food, dopamine is released. It motivates you to get to the food. Without dopamine – and with a lack of motivation – chances of survival would drop to an all-time low. We repeat behaviour that leads to dopamine release. That’s how we survived and how human behaviour is still shaped until today.

Give them a dopamine rush

Now you know a bit more about how dopamine works in the brain, let’s see how you can adapt your strategies in order to make your product as appealing as possible. Dopamine is a key element in the brain’s reward system. Remember that dopamine makes us repeat behaviour? As a marketer, you can trigger this reward system to reinforce behaviour and create positive associations for your customer. Tasty food samples at the entrance of a supermarket, Starbucks changing up their menu and a shoe shop with big sale signs are all marketing tools our brains respond to. Free offers, renewal of a menu and the suggestion that prices are lower than normal make us curious and give us a rush of dopamine. This makes us motivated to taste that sample, try that new coffee or have a look at the cheaper shoes. In return, we get another shot when finished and succeeded. This creates a positive association and improve chances people will do it again, and again.

Add dopamine to your mix

How can you apply this to your website or webshop? There are a lot of options, we will discuss a few to give you an impression:
  • Create a contest where people can win a prize. This can be a raffle, or the quest for the next best product name (this is a win-win situation, you might end up with a very creative name). Winning a prize activates the brain’s reward system and releases dopamine without a doubt.
  • Make sure your customer is first to know about an important development, new product or news. People have a general fear of missing out (FOMO). We want to be updated all the time. That’s why Facebook gives us a ping! and shows us a red globe if any activity happens. Dopamine likes this and makes us curious. Try to nót look at your phone after a ping, it’s hard to resist.
  • Apply strategies from gamification (principles of gaming) into your webshop. Create a point scoring system where customers can register to. If they collect a certain amount of points, they get a discount on a product. This ‘fun’ way of shopping motivates our brain and dopamine to get involved and get that discount.
These three examples are just an introduction into how you can anticipate your customer’s dopamine release. There are a lot more tools, but we hope we made you understand the underlying idea of how it works. If we got you interested in the brain, stay tuned for more interesting articles and tips! We will frequently give you a short but powerful Braintalk to keep you up to date.
Webwinkel Vakdagen 2018 - Stand Afterpay

Standing out from the crowd. The do’s and don’ts at an exhibition hall.

Two weeks ago, Neurofied was present at the Dutch eCommerce exhibition Webwinkel Vakdagen 2018. This exhibition is the biggest meeting place for supply and demand in the world of webshops. My mission was to wander around, observe and see how companies apply neuromarketing in the design of their stands. This may sound relaxing, but an exhibition is one big accumulation of colour, sounds and people that try to sell their product. The key to success is to be different from everyone else, to stand out from the crowd. How? I will briefly discuss my experience and give you the do’s and don’ts.

We are not robots

Let’s start with the question what neuromarketing can do for you and your stand on an exhibition in the first place. Neuroscience is making its way into marketing and a growing number of companies are interested in how the brain works. In line with this, a recent study looked at the main aspects of customer experience at an exhibition hall. They measured brain activity, skin conductance and eye movement. The main aspect of these measurements is that they tell us something about unconscious, emotional reactions that are not visible with the naked eye. We humans are not robots, but emotional beings that sense the environment around us. Their conclusion was that sensory enrichment – smell, colour, music, lights – enhance the involvement of the visitors, but this is dependent on the context of the exhibition. This means that a food exhibition will have more advantage of the nice smells than a furniture exhibition. Let’s be honest, don’t you also prefer the smell of freshly baked cookies over the smell of furniture wax? As a company, applying the right sensory enrichment at an exhibition can lead to three things:
  1. positive overall observations leading to less frustration and more willingness to interact. Visitors will be easier to approach and interested in your stand;
  2. more intense experiences that directly impact arousal and the willingness to do business at the exhibition;
  3. better memories that make your brand or product more familiar. Research proves a positive link between this brand familiarity and purchase intention.
This shows that the improvement of human comfort and their sensory experience is fundamental to every exhibition, especially because it can be a very stressful and overwhelming environment.

Do’s and don’ts

Good! Now that I’ve explained something about neuromarketing and exhibition halls, it is time for my own experience. After my observation, there were quite some aspects that did and did not draw my attention. I will briefly sum them up and give some examples.

Colour

Because this fair did not hold any food- perfume- or music- related stands, the visual experience is probably the main target for companies to focus on at the WWV. One of the biggest elements of human visual experience is colour. Choosing the right colours can have enormous effects on the overall experience of your stand. So which ones are right and which are ‘wrong’?
  • do use a colour that stands out: an original, fresh colour that no one else uses can draw immediate attention of the visitors;
  • do use a colour that suits your brand. If your website, leaflets and business cards are green, don’t paint your stand pink;
  • don’t use a colour that will disappear in the exhibition hall. My experience with this one was that some companies were a little unfortunate because the overall colour of the hall was blue (especially the carpet). Bol had an impressive stand, but faded into the background because of this;
  • don’t overdo it, keep it simple. The (sometimes painful) combination of specific colours can create chaos instead of an appealing stand. Use soft, peaceful colours that create an inviting environment. Want to know why less is more? Read about it here.

Movement

Another option to draw the visitor’s attention is by using movement. It doesn’t mean you should be running around your stand! This can be very subtle. One stand that drew my attention did so by decorating their stand with balloons. Floating balloons always move in a subtle way. Another way is to use displays that show a short, attractive company video.
  • Do use movement in an interactive way, this makes visitors more involved in your product and leads to a higher chance of interaction. An example I found creative was using a wheel of fortune, inviting visitors to spin it.
  • Don’t let it take over your stand. One of the stands belonged to a supply chain company, but the whole stand consisted of one big conveyer belt. It’s good to show off your product, but there should also be room to sit down, have a coffee and connect with prospects.

Emotion

As explained before, taking the emotions of visitors into account can lead to a more successful stand. There are various ways to do this, but the biggest factor is YOU. One big difference I noticed between stands is the attitude of the people that belong to it. Do they make eye contact? Do they smile, or sit behind their computer without showing any interest? You are representing your company, do this in an open, friendly and curious way and visitors will not quickly forget you.
  • Do keep it personal: Inviting a visitor for a nice cup of coffee (or a beer if it’s 4 o’clock) can be a good icebreaker for a business conversation. Watermelon offered visitors to create their product (a chatbot) on the spot, together with someone from the stand.
  • Don’t fake it until you make it: Most people can tell pretty quickly if someone is sincere or not. In the end, marketing and business are all about convincing someone about your product, but the trick is to do this in a genuine and credible way.

Show me a good stand!

Now that you know a little bit more about the do’s and don’ts at an exhibition, let me show you a company that – in my eyes – nailed it when it comes to sensory experience. This is the stand of AfterPay, a Dutch company that makes it possible to pay for your product after you receive it.
Webwinkel Vakdagen 2018 - Stand Afterpay
Webwinkel Vakdagen 2018 - Stand Afterpay
Webwinkel Vakdagen 2018 - Stand Afterpay
The folks from AfterPay created a very welcoming stand, using an almost ‘feeling like home’ atmosphere. The use of plants, wood and the possibility to sit down made this happen. The stand is open and the use of lights make it a bright environment. Their company colour – a fresh kind of green – is present, but not in such an overwhelming way that it overpowers the overall look. They added movement by using a monitor that displays fragments of their product. Also, they display existing customers in a creative way by putting their products on shelves. During the exhibition, I saw a lot of visitors dropping by, sitting down and having a chat. This shows that their stand was an inviting success. Well done AfterPay! We hope this article gives you some insight into how to create your own, inviting stand. Being at an exhibition means putting yourself out there, standing out from the crowd and making sure the visitors will still think of you after the exhibition. Furthermore, this article is a way to show how you can use psychology in a business-related environment. For more information on how to improve business results check out our article on the AIDA-model. Don’t underestimate the power of it!