NextStage’s work with agencies has taught me that one of marketing’s great mysteries is determining where the customer is in the buying cycle (we’re developing a tool. Drop me a line if you’re interested). This kind of mystery intrigues me. In case you haven’t heard, NextStage’s background isn’t in marketing, advertising or anything similar. Our origins are in completely different disciplines and our philosophy is “understanding through diversity”. This gives us incredible flexibility when developing solutions to marketing and similar problems.
So when I hear “we can’t figure out where people are in their buying cycle” I think “But the human brain only recognizes time in certain ways and the mind in certain other ways. Both mind and brain demonstrate their understandings differently. How can understanding where someone is in the buying cycle be a mystery?”
This month’s (Aug ’07) columns will explore how to make use of the mind and brain’s concepts of time in online marketing. We’ll start with some examples of how the mind and brain handle time information differently:
|The clock shows that it’s 6:30pm, therefore it’s time to prepare dinner||I’m registering hunger pains, therefore it’s time to eat|
|The clock shows it’s 10:30pm, therefore it’s time to get ready for bed||I’m registering the onset of sleep patterns, therefore it’s time to sleep|
|The car is showing signs of rust and is costing more to maintain than it’s worth, therefore it’s time to buy a new car||I can’t eat it, mate with it and if I fall asleep in it I could get hurt, therefore I’m not sure what biological need is serves, therefore don’t bother me with it|
The brain’s focus is “right now”. The mind plans and remembers. Let’s consider one way to make use of how brains and minds work so they’ll work together to boost conversions on your websites.
Making Future Business Happen “Right Now”
I was interviewed earlier today regarding NextStage’s work analyzing the Presidential campaign (I’ll post a notice and link on BizMediaScience when the interview goes live). NextStage analyzes communications, not politics, and I mentioned that a marketing challenge for campaigners is postponing the sale.
Postponing the sale?
Yes, as in consumers are going to buy the product twice, once starting in Feb ’08 then again in Nov ’08. It’s bad enough they’re not going to buy the product right now, campaign strategists have to convince consumers — voters — to buy the product twice, maybe even switching products between the two purchases.
This can present a real challenge. Campaign sites can’t have emblazoned across them “Vote for Me Now!” but product and service sites can. It’s called the “Buy” button. The closest message a campaign site can get across is “Elect Me President!” and hope that message keeps getting into the visitor’s mind so that when “right now” occurs (in the voting booth) the brain does what the mind suggests.
What I’ve described above is a useful tool for marketers and advertisers to remember; demonstrate a positive future event (what the mind can deal with) often enough and the brain will act upon it when the time is right. Example: it is in the mid-90s today (2 Aug 07) as I write this. Show me a convertible driving along a country lane with the top down in bright sunshine and you’re talking to the brain. The image correlates with and continues my current experience (warm day, bright sunshine, want to play), therefore my brain registers it as a “right now” image. If I need a car right now, you have me.
But if I need a car right now, I mean, really, right now, I’m down at the dealer. I’m not shopping on line.
Let’s say that I don’t need a car “right now”. Instead I’m noticing some rust spots on old faithful and I’m getting tired of being nickle-and-dimed with maintenance costs. I’m not really thinking “right now”, I’m thinking “it would be nice to have…” Those are mind-style thoughts. I’m making plans for a purchase. It may be in the mid-90s as I sit here in NH, but I’m really thinking about fall and winter. Show me a car navigating through snow and you have the equivalent of “Elect Me President!”. You’re priming the visitor, giving the mind a message it can store and send to the brain when the time is right.
When they want vanilla, give them Vanilla
Part of the mystery between brain and mind is appreciating that when people want something they want it now. When they’re on your site they might not want your product or service right now but they do want something now, so find out what they want and give it to them. NextStage calls this “When the customer wants vanilla, give them Vanilla.” The emphasis is intended and means that a totally satisfactory, simple experience is infinitely better than an unsatisfying, rich experience.
Bells and whistles are great at getting someone’s attention and use them wisely. If someone came to your site to download product specs, make that download the easiest thing in the world to do. You’ve satisfied the brain’s “right now” and can include content in the specs for the mind to pass on to the brain when the moment is right.
Totally off the subject and Good Listening
AllBusiness.com’s Chris Bjorklund interviewed me on NextStage’s research into how colors, color images and color iconography affect consumers online.
Please contact NextStage for information regarding presentations and trainings on this and other topics.
Links for this post:
- The First Sale is the Next Page
- Listening to and Seeing Searches
- My background from Reading Virtual Minds, Author’s Foreword
- Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch, Part 1
- Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch, Part 2
- Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch, Part 3
- Priming, Sleeping Beauty, and the World’s Most Comfortable Couch, finale
- Usability Studies 101: Barriers to Entry
- Usability Studies 101: Defining Visitor Action