In a world where people are bombarded by choices, stories play a decisive role in yielding attention and trust.
Storytelling is the fundamental block of any marketing communication. Studies show that an average consumer is exposed to up to 7 brand messages per minute. With growing number of channels, the number is soaring rapidly. As consumers our attention is divided across multiple activities and multi tasking, hence the fight for attention is becoming tougher than ever. One of the biggest mistakes marketers often fall prey to is by designing campaigns by prioritizing the company and not the consumer. In marketing, the most important and influential word is “you”. Any campaign failing to consider the customer need is doomed for all.
“An average consumer is exposed to up to7 brand messages per minute”
As we all know that marketing is all about generating trust while being honest to the customers. In a world where people are bombarded by choices, stories play a decisive role in yielding attention and trust. 5000 years ago hieroglyphs were used to in ancient Egypt and is still considered as the earliest writing system in the world. Prior to that cavemen used to paint stories on cave walls. Though a lot has changed since then, but stories had remained an integral part of every human being and apparently the most unique thing in the process of our upbringing. Since the day we start apprehending language; ideologues, mythology, folklores, values- everything get imbibed in us through the medium of story. Hence with growing age, we also evolve as storytellers. We are all storytellers, only thing that makes the difference is our individual narrative technique. As an exercise ask three different individuals to tell a single story. I bet you’ll find three different narrative styles of the same story. May be one or two of them will draw your attention better.
Three things that distinguishes a brand are:
1. An Emotional Advantage: This is how your brand emotionally connects with your customers. This is how your brand makes your customers feel.
2. A Distinctive Advantage: What makes you unique from your competitors. Advantage that deters you from becoming a me-too brand in the market.
3. A Connective Advantage: How you create meaningful connections in daily lives of your prospects and customers.
Ask any marketer and he will tell that consumer attention is a commodity and marketing is an exchange of attention with the marketing message. Gradually, business houses are resorting to storytelling in order to evolve as an influential brand. In today’s digitally distracted world, brand storytelling is an important strategy to strengthen relationship with customers. Emotional yet authentic stories urges to the subconscious mind of the audience thus reigning over the cognitive behaviour of the audience. While training my sales team, I used to tell them that sales is a process interaction between two brains. Yes, buying decisions are always governed by the customer but to be precise it is the brain of the customer which triggers the urge in him to buy. Thus for any marketer, understanding a customer means understanding the cognitive complexities of the customer. It is here story plays a significant role in driving one’s cognitive behaviour.
“Thus for any marketer, understanding a customer means understanding the cognitive complexities of the customer.”
According to neuroscience, an average human brain weighs around 3 pounds, which is mere 2% of our entire body weight. In contrary to its weigh, a human brain consumes 25% of our body’s oxygen. A healthy average brain processes 400 billion bits of information per second. But, only 2000 of them are received by our conscious minds. Though buying decisions are undertaken by the subconscious mind but the route to that subconscious is obviously through that restricted passage of conscious processing. This is what the brands actually fight for. Neuroscientists has long recognized narratives as the basic organizing principle of memory. This is where brand storytelling helps to inject the brand by cutting through the information clutter. I believe that every human being is a resultant of all the decisions which he/ she had ever taken. And all our decisions are actually driven by emotions. Hence if you wish to drive the behaviour of your consumers, then you cannot make it without adhering to the emotional aspect. A good narrative is comprised of all the essential components required to instigate different emotions while drawing and sustaining our attention span. Thus integrating a brand message to a authentic and emotional story will not only help your brand penetrate through consumer minds but will also help in strengthening their engagement to your brand
It’s our own mind that augurs our impulsive buying behavior. Did you ever wonder why everytime you visit a hyper retail, you end up purchasiing more than your actual prior allotted budget? Have you ever wondered, what compels us to buy an additional insurance policy?
We consume because we want to consume. It is our own urge to consume that compels us to incur those additional expenses. Job of marketers is only to encourage that urge among consumers. In retail marketing, it is said ‘your eye level is your buy level’. Hence product placement on humble shelves play a vital role in encouraging buying behavior. Standees, posters, cutouts, even audio visual presentation on plasma monitors, placed all across the spree often allures or intimidates us to consume. Introduction of small plastic buckets along with steel trolleys have significantly facilitated buying behavior.
There is also a different kind of positioning which facilitates consumption. It is by inducing fear factor in consumer minds. Fear plays a crucial role in consumer psyche. Remember, zillion dollar insurance industries solely rely on fearpsychosis of the consumers. “what if” I die tomorrow? or “what if” I meet an accident? or “What if” I get dumped by my family in far future? These are basic psychological concerns which drive the entire insurance industry.
This kind of communications either remind us of our present necessities or triggers our assumptions for its future relevance or it may also promise us an elevated social status at most vulnerable stage of our lives.
While training marketing professionals, I often tell them that by marketing TG we do not mean any individual but it’s their brain (cognitive behavior) which actually guides those individuals. In our daily lives, we often like people or irk at some but the truth is that every individual is the product of their brain functioning. So in marketing also we do not communicate with any specific individual but all marketing messages are meant to address their brains.
Fear psychosis mostly instigates our Reptilian Brain, which directly caters to our instincts and is responsible to induce fight or flight stress in our minds. This part of the brain is deeply located at the bottom of our brain and drives us through our instincts. Buying insurance is like facing the fear or fighting the insecurities with a weapon named, insurance policy. While flight stress teaches us on how to evade an insurance agent.
Even words or phrases like ‘first come, first serve”, “offer till stock lasts”, “limited edition”, “Hurry”- somehow instigates human minds to behave as the advertisers wish them to do. Fear of getting deprived of the stock or offer motivates their buying behaviour.
So next time, while planning marketing communications- fear psychosis should not be ignored as a relevant positioning strategy.
Why do some advertisements seizes our attention while others go completely unnoticed? Why do Bula di or the Hutch puppy (named Chika) become the spotlight of the public eye?
When advertising and PR is the spinal cord of every modern businesses, hundreds of company die every year across the globe just because their marketing and advertisements fail to draw public eye.
All advertisements and marketing campaigns are done with the sole objective of creating and changing the perception of respective target groups.
This perception is not something which is passively recorded by our senses but an active process that is construed by different layers of the brain. In other words, we see with our brain, not just our eyes. Sense of vision is our most dominant sense and this is the reason why television has had been our most dominant media since decades. It is estimated that as much as 85% of our perception, learning and cognition are mediated through our sense of sight, and over one third of the brain is dedicated to the processing of visual information.
Accordimg to Douglas Van Praet, “perception is not a simple linear process, but rather an ongoing back and forth comparison between expectations and incoming sensory data.” Human brains procreate a model of the world in their minds and compare incoming information to those models. When the reality that we observe or experience fits our expectations, we pull off our defenses and things become unconscious. So when the world is accurately predicted, we no longer need to pay attention to that information and are freed up to focus our attention on something more relevant or new.
Take for instance, the act of learning to ride a motorcycle. Initially we pay close attention to all the details we need to know before riding a motorcyle. Like for example the use of clutch and brake functions. How to switch the head lamp or indicators. How to switch gear at every cross road or road turn. But once we get accustomed to it, the process becomes unconscious. Though we remain cautious while driving but we no longer need to be aware of all the perceptual input or motor coordination required for riding a motorcycle. In other words we dont need to fiddle with all switches and buttons. Again we become conscious when something unusual happens. We draw brakes when the preceding car does so or the road is foggy enough for our eyesight. This however elucidates a very important aspect of marketing: awareness of our surroundings occur only when the things we expect violate our expectations.
In modern world every consumer is accustomed and resistant to all kind of conventional marketing approaches. Every single consumer brain is cluttered with several personal and professional issues. Modern marketers need to declutter such concerns in order to grab their attentions and implant brand significance in consumer minds. Since human minds have learnt to bypass all marketing advances to their unconscious, seeking human attention have become toughest nut to crack for all marketers.
Therefore, marketing approaches which are distinct or stand out from the rest, do successfully violate our expectations; consequently grabbing our attentions successfully.
Debate is all about intellectual exhibition of your knowledge and beliefs. In ancient times debate used to be treated as an effective faculty at King’s court. Debate is a sheer manifestation of sanity and rationality. Nothing seems more appealing than a man/ woman driven by logic and sanity of mind. Since long people with debatable attribute are much in demand in every spheres of life. Be it Socrates, Chanakya, Birbal or even Elizabethan Portia (as described by The Bard himself).
Technically,debate involves more of politics than logic. Dialectic has always been the key for any solemn debate sessions.
This article is intended to suggest some key factors essential to win over any debate sessions.
Eye for knowledge: the most essential attribute needed to win over a debate is your inquisitiveness. In a world full of followers, it’s our inquisitiveness that gives us an added advantage over others. Our inquisitiveness helps us to explore spaces of life and our individual minds. Debatable characteristic emerges from the ambit of our individual knowledge and wisdom. Remember, all human brains are hardwired to act or judge as per precincts of their knowledge. So always keep replenishing your mind with more and effective knowledge.
Listen:Ears to see, eyes to hear- yes, our ears can do wonders if we could apprehend the virtue of listening. A good speaker is the one who listens. How can you win a debate without being a good listener?
Note: Have you ever heard the term “dream incubators”? They are people who love to incubate their dreams for varied reasons. Writing or taking note is the only way how we can incubate our dreams. Most successful entrepreneurs, leaders, bureaucrats have confessed about their habit of taking notes. It’s as good a habit as washing hands before eating. Notes help us to recapitulate, analyze, apprehend, secure and use information for imperative use.
Frame: is the dish on which we serve the food, named logic. This is the way how we want to position or place our logic. One of the most crucial aspect of debate is to direct your opposition towards your desired conclusion. Framing helps in channelizing the interaction or monitoring the course of debate. Better the framing better is your chances to nail your opponent.
Synthesize: Synthesis is a key attribute which will propel you ahead of your league. During any debate session, we synthesize our knowledge and experience to exploit the thought process of our opponents. It is said that human brain is the only organ in our body which manifests the layers of human evolution. The oldest part of our brain is called reptilian brain which caters our instincts, followed by limbic brain guides our feelings and emotions. While the outer most layers is called neo cortex, it is responsible for rational thinking and actions. While debating we synthesize our knowledge and experience in a way that will affect these aforementioned brain layers of our opponents.
Deliver: This is the most crucial factor of any debate sessions. As no matter how logical you are or how good research had been- unless you deliverance is appealing, you can never win a debate sessions. Every interaction or debate sessions is a one is to one bargaining game, where the dominant player is most likely to win the game. Hence, domination of your opponent can augur you further towards your triumphant glory. You may do this by proper voice, intonation, body language, pronunciation and eye movement. People listen to what you say, but to make a people think give a pause amidst your sentences. These pauses make your listeners analyze and apprehend your sentences. Even there are techniques like palm down gesture and sudden glance at the top hairline of your opponent often plays a significant role in rob your opponent off his/ her confidence.
Show Gratitude: ‘Thank you’ when combined with a smile is said to have a tremendous psychological impact on the person saying it or the person for whom the gratitude is meant to be. Gratitude is said to be the primeval virtue possessed by all leaders. So in order to prove your worth.
“Call him “Buddha”, he who can refrain himself from this eternal cycle of necessity.”
We all are obliged to this perpetual cycle of necessity. Be it the CEO/ CFO/ CIOs of multinationals or daily wage earners working at construction sites, we all succumb to this eternal cycle. This is what that drives most of the daily consumptions across the globe.
With the exception of those who make their living as purchasing agents or secret shoppers, no one is a professional customer. Rather they are professional engineers, accountants, HR managers, customer service representatives, CEOs or whatever. They are as normal as you and me. They laugh, they cry, they frown, they fart- hence we all are equally vulnerable while buying.
Who buys an Inuit costume in scorching Indian summer?
No, one buys anything but solution to their problems. I need to look good and confident, hence I bought a formal shirt made of imported cotton fabric and a pair of stone embellished cuff links. I’m planning to go for a trek- I need a pair of shoes to withstand the climate and rough terrains, so I should buy one. Likewise, hunger makes us buy food; thirst makes us buy drinks. We do not buy anything that doesn’t align with our own necessities.
So what if we tamper the ambit of these necessity cycle? No brownie for guessing. Results will be outrageous.
So what do we actually buy/ consume?
We consume food, we consume clothing, we consume shelter, we consume internet, we consume entertainment, we consume information, we consume education, even we consume the habit of consumption itself (read window shopping). In countries like India we consume politics and political leaders as well. Personally I believe elections are more like weekly haats (Mandis), where in every five years, people from myriad backgrounds and political communities display their products (candidates) through every possible media to seek our support. Inarguably, for us voters- this is also a form of consumption, guided by our inherent buying behaviour. We trust the candidature as much as we trust the actors (with stethoscope) in a toothpaste commercial.
Who buy, who sells?
“Although we each have different titles and responsibilities in this company, we are really all in sales, we need to think like salesman” – extract from Think like your customers by Bill Stinnet.
Irrespective of our individual designation or industry we work for, we all are both consumers as well as selling agents at the same time. We sell ourselves to buy products and services sold by others. I sold myself at job interviews so that after getting the job I can buy products or services sold by someone else.
Now take a deep breathe and try to recall the last time you came out of a supermarket/ hyperretail without exceeding your predetermined shopping budget.
Yes, the additional expense that you incurred at the supermarket is due to impulsivebuying. Lions share of your daily consumption is guided by your subconscious mind. As an advertising professional, I always preferred to appease my customers’ subconscious mind instead of his rational thought process. I bet, knowingly or unknowingly every successful marketing professional does the same. Rational mind restraints us from superficial enlargement of this necessity cycle. It seeks logic over our urge to consume, while subconscious mind negates all logic before buying anything which is beyond our necessity cycle.
So how does advertisements or marketing professionals instigate our subconscious? What are the other influencers that compel us to buy? To know more about consumer behaviour and buying patterns, follow the blog series named Buy-O-Logical.
If you have read the cover story of Buy-O-Logical, you must be knowing that this blog series is just assumptions, completely based on my own experience and apprehensions as an advertising professional. As the cover title was inspired from the bestseller by Martin Lindstrom, we owe our gratitude to the legendary researcher.
We all know the root cause of consumption is nenecessity, Buy-O-Logical will gradually unravel the mystery that drives our buying behaviour. It will vastly delineate the logic, necessity and societal belief systems which promote consumption. It reveals all possible situtations in which we succumb to our desire for spending. How our friends, family and society instigate our individual buying habits.
This is a journal series based on practical experiences and case studies from large and small business houses. Buy-O-Logical lends an unique perspective to both consumers and sellers about the intricacies and intrinsic logic that we deal with before buying.
Follow our series, get introduced to the unknown “You”.
“Though my decade long stint in advertising and audio visual media has not ensured me a fortune but it did confer me with indelible understanding of human psyche and behaviour.” –Subhadip Ghosh.
Buy-O-Logical is a deeper introspection of human psyche and consumer behaviour in India. It is an attempt to unravel the intinsiclogic of consumption in India. A nation with over 1.25 billion population is fast becoming the hub of global businesses and corporates. Buy-O-Logical is a series of blogs starting with a prologue followed by 7 articles and an epilogue to encapsulate the philosophy behind consumer India. We hope you will find them relevant and intriguing.
Like us for upcoming posts of Buy-O-Logical. Stay adhered.