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Break Past the Reptilian Brain with Neuromarketing

Rachel Chipp Posted on Sep 10, 2018, 10:57:35 AM

In order to truly understand how to create an advertising message that will generate a response, it is important to understand how the brain works. With his Triune Brain theory, neuroscientist Paul Maclean posited that the human brain is actually composed of three separate brains that work in conjunction to make a decision: the reptilian brain, the emotional brain and the cerebral cortex. Understanding how each component thinks and operates is crucial when it comes to applying neuromarketing to design your marketing strategy.

Have you ever felt: 'My head's saying one thing, my heart's saying another, but my gut's telling me something else altogether'? This is essentially your three brains at play. The reptilian brain, so-called because lizards only possess this part of the brain, is the most ancient part of our brain that evolutionary psychology postulates has survived from our ancestors. It is the driving force behind all of our decision-making and is responsible for providing that gut instinct that rules over our heads and hearts for our own safety and survival. It either gives you the feeling to be wary and hold back or the permission that it is safe to proceed. 

The reptilian brain has two basic needs: survival and reproduction 

Located in the brain stem, the reptilain brain is the first layer of the brain that your advertising will need to appeal to and break past in order to make it to the next two layers of your brain before the consumer makes a decision on whether to respond to your advert. It acts as a precautionary filter so that you can quickly escape from the situation if it is deemed to pose a threat to self-preservation. Therefore, designing an advertisement which appeals to human's most primitive needs is the pivotal first step in order to attain marketing success. 

The brain stem operates unconsciously and is responsible for making 90% of our decisions without our control. It is the foremost part of the brain that your advertising needs to appeal to. So how can marketers tap into it?  

It comes down to understanding our basic primitive needs. The lizard brain responds to anything that will ensure its survival and self-preservation and shuts down anything that poses a threat or a chance of experiencing pain. The brain is subconsciously processing every new advertisement as a threat to its existence. You need to ensure that your commercial appeals to human's most basic desires so that it is not immediately discarded. With the amount of information that the brain is bombarded with each day, how do you make sure that your advertisement makes the cut? These top neuromarketing tips will help. 

a lizard 

Appeal to the ego

The survivalist nature of the reptilian brain means that it is incredibly egocentric. When a prospective consumer is considering a brand, their main concern is, 'What's in it for me? How will this benefit my life?' The driving force subconsciously underpinning these thoughts are, 'How will this ensure my continued survival and reproductive value?' If you can clearly demonstrate how your product or service will enhance their quality of life and appeal to those that they are trying to attract, then you are on to a winner.  

The reptilian brain processes visuals faster than words 

As part of its survival mechanism to perceive danger as quickly as possible, the optic nerve runs directly to the brain stem. Therefore, appealing with visuals is a key tactic to primarily generating a positive response before the other portions of your brain use their energy to investigate further. The lizard brain is unable to comprehend too many words, so will instantly discard your message as requiring too much energy to decipher and will have already moved on to your competitor's advertising message to see what it has to offer them.

Focus the most important points at the beginning and end of your advertisement

The need to conserve energy means that the reptilian brain focuses on the beginning and the end of the message to instantly make sense of it, skimming over the middle. Therefore, you need to make sure that the important points that you wish to convey are at these focal points of your commercial. 

Position yourself as the best option in your field

The survival of the fittest drive intrinsic to humans means that if you can demonstrate that your advertising towers over all of your competitors, then you are speaking the lizard brain's language. 

Keep it simple

As the least evolved aspect of our brain, the brain stem does not have the ability to respond to complex information, so keep your advertising message simple. The brain requires a lot of energy to function; it subconsciously does not want to waste time on anything that is a waste of this precious energy supply. As a result, it instinctively makes decisions at an incredibly fast pace, so including large imagery and a simple message that spell out the benefits to a customer and pose no threat are essential ways to grab the customer's attention.  

Offer to relieve potential sources of pain

The pain that the brain is constantly seeking to avoid can also be attributed to the cost of spending. Demonstrating the value of what you have to offer will make them feel that they are gaining rather than losing. It is important to remember though that the brain stem is primarily seeking self-preservation, so avoiding pain is of more importance than seeking pleasure. Therefore, simply describing the benefits alone will not be enough to win over this part of the brain. Instead, reverse the process by explicitly stating the source of pain that the customer is currently experiencing in their lives and making them aware of how you can alleviate that pain. Now the lizard brain will sit up and take notice! 

The human brain is a complex structure but when you understand the fundamentals that it is based on, it is easy to tailor your advertising to ensure that you press all the right buttons. At the base level, humans are predictable and simple creatures. By applying this neuromarketing knowledge, you will ensure that your marketing message makes it through this reptilian gatekeeper's selective filter to reach the next level of the brain.

Download our free neuromarketing ebook to learn more about neuromarketing. 

 

Rachel Chipp
This post was Written by Rachel Chipp

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