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Special Feature 29 September 2014
Neuromarketing shows the value of print
By Diana Lucaci

Diana Lucaci, founder of True Impact Marketing, discusses how neuroscience can create more intelligent marketing. She calls this neuromarketing. The good news is that print has a lot of neuromarketing advantages.

The term refers to the application of neuroscience technology to answer marketing questions. In the past we have had (and still have) focus groups, surveys, panels, and so on, but those marketing research methodologies are proven to be not quite predictable. One of the main reasons for that is people don’t say how they truly feel. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s very difficult to asses your emotions second by second and be able to verbalize it. But from an advertiser or marketer’s perspective, it’s very important to pinpoint the specific emotions that your communication elicits.

Traditional market research fell short in doing that. This is where neuroscience is coming in to complete the picture, basically by just simply measuring how they react.Neuroscience focuses on people’s automatic gut feeling reactions to any communication, whether it’s auditory, tactile, or visual, digital print, or otherwise. All these things can be measured by observing how the brain reacts to it.

What we know for sure is that the more senses you use to engage the brain, the higher the experience a person has. So, for example, if you give them a direct mail piece, and perhaps it has a scratchand-sniff element, you’re targeting the senses of touch, smell and sight; in contrast to a digital communication, which is just sight. The brain is more engaged and the likelihood of us encoding that experience into memory becomes much higher.

There was an interesting study done in the U.K. with Royal Mail where they put people into an MRI scanner, and they had them look at a postcard on a digital screen and then they had them hold the postcard. And there were big differences that occurred in multiple parts of the brain. Ultimately there were a couple of key findings. One of which was, it was a lot easier for people to place themselves in the context of the photo when they were holding the paper postcard; they themselves could draw from memory a lot more and find this more familiar.

The big question is: how does print fit within the communication plan? If printers and digital folks could work together and put themselves in the customer’s shoes—the customer doesn’t think of print and digital as separate; he thinks ‘here’s the brand, and here’s my experience with the brand.’ I think direct mail will always have a higher impact, but it’s about where it comes along in that nurturing pathway.

Are you at the beginning when you’re just introducing your brand? Perhaps then you want to send a direct mail piece. But then later on when the customer is aware of who you are, maybe you will want to send an email, invite them to a webinar, invite them to an event where you can give them a brochure. It's not about one medium or the other, it’s about how they come together and interact to create the best customer experience possible.

We have so much built into our brains already that makes us prefer things that are tangible, things that we can smell or build or interact with—that will never change, not for another couple of thousand years or more. As long as that’s the case, print will have a huge role. It’s about how it’s used, within a bigger context.

It depends on how mature their marketing function is…I think where marketers go wrong, they think of their customers as piles of data. Coming from a neuroscience background, I know that people are people.

They have emotions and they have reactions. If you think solely of, well, my direct mail campaign has only a response rate of 1% vs. my email campaign that gets an open rate of 16% and a click-through rate of 4%, which are pretty average stats—OK. However, if you’re not taking in the bigger picture and not understanding why these things are happening, you’re going to have a very stale marketing communications program, fast.

Diana Lucaci is the founder of True Impact Marketing, a Toronto-based strategy and research firm that advises marketers on using neuroscience to create intelligent marketing.

*This article was originally
published in the April 2014 issue of Graphic Monthly*
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