People today are completely bombarded by messaging via a growing number of media and platforms—TV, smartphones, Internet ads, social media, billboards—that it's hard to measure. But the modern consumer sees thousands of ads a day. Even places that used to be ad-free (e.g., gyms), no longer are.
Navigating the world with digital devices can feel a little like living in Times Square.
This sensory overload poses a challenge to brands, which need ways to get their messages across.
Neuroscience may be a field that's considered medical or scientific, but that doesn't mean brands can't also benefit from a deeper understanding into how the brain drives human behavior and the impact emotions have on the body.
By integrating neuroscience principals into their marketing and advertising, marketers can achieve the messaging stickiness they are looking for.
Here are six neuroscience principles that brands can use to supercharge their campaigns.
1. Belief Bias
Belief bias is the tendency to accept things that fit into one's existing belief system, and to judge the strength of arguments based on prior belief instead of logic or data. When persuading users to buy a product, brands can use this principle by focusing on how the product benefits one's lifestyle—how the product will personally and positively help them in the context of what they hold to be true.
2. Bandwagon Effect
The bandwagon effect is the principle that if you create the perception that "everyone" is buying a product or service, it's more likely that people will buy it. Consumers feel more secure and eager to purchase something when they believe there is momentum around that thing, and they will jump on the opportunity to be part of the crowd. Incorporating language like "everybody is raving about X" or "everybody is switching to Y" helps messaging stick.
3. Scarcity Principle
The bandwagon effect can be used alongside another neuroscience principle—scarcity. When something is in short supply, prospective buyers inherently feel a sense of urgency to act before availability runs out. This idea is core to the success of DRTV. Adding a sense of urgency encourages people to act before it's too late. When you offer 20% off for a limited time or say an offer won't be available much longer, people are more likely to make a purchase before time or supply is gone.
4. Ingroup Bias
Ingroup-bias messaging qualifies people for a certain product or service from the very first line. It essentially segments out people who should be interested. For example, "If you are a Type 1 diabetic," or "If you own a dog," then this product is for you. People who don't fit within that category may ignore the ad, but it will resonate more strongly with the audience that a brand is trying to reach.
A way to further drive a message home is by referencing specific problems, language, or experiences that are inherent to the targeted group. With the example of a product for diabetics, an ad that says "You won't have to prick your finger to know your blood sugar level" will stick because it acknowledges specific needs of the group. And featuring testimonials from a target audience member, rather than celebrities, makes a product more appealing because the consumer can see themselves in the ad.
5. Distinction Bias
Distinction bias is the tendency to view two options as more dissimilar when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately. Side-by-side comparisons can be effective here. Consider an online retailer of previously owned clothing. When you show the thrift-store price next to what someone would pay for the same item through standard retail, the discounted price from the former will seem like an even better deal.
6. Visual Encoding
When pictures are used to convey messages, the audience can use the visuals as clues to store and recall information. Humans are likely to remember 10% of a written piece of information three days later, but including a relevant image can bump that up to 65 %. Connecting points a brand wants to make—like the number of hours someone spends sitting—to an image of someone sitting will give ad messaging more weight.
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All of these neuroscience principles, among others, can be used in combination. Why not combine distinction bias with social validation? Or the bandwagon effect and the scarcity principle? Ultimately, integrating neuroscience is a way to make creative work better.
Effective advertising isn't about throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks. If you have a good idea, weaving in neuroscience principles can help the creative reach its full potential. It should happen organically, even by retrofitting these principles into existing ideas. Small tweaks to a campaign can go a long way toward driving results.
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