How to get inside your customer’s … skull and hit gold.
We’d like to think of ourselves as rational individuals. Yet how much of our decisions are actually based on thorough reasoning (cost-benefit analysis, for instance) and how many are processed unconsciously, through emotions and intuition?
The answer to the first question is: a very very very small fraction. The answer to the second is – a whole whole lot. And what’s more, we tend to feel better (at least in the short term) about decisions we’ve made “out of our gut feeling” or because “that’s what my heart tells me to do.” Except it’s actually not your heart, nor your stomach, as much as it’s the limbic system inside your brain.
And this is the new tool marketers use to generate strong brand attachment and loyalty. To get people to identify with their product and form an emotional bond. Why? Probably because the emotional attachment to an idea (product, service, self-image, convictions, etc.) is more difficult to compete with.
In his book Think Limbic!, Hans Georg Häusel develops a personality model based on emotions and motives. His thesis is that besides sleep, food and sex, there are three other main regions in the human limbic system that marketers can “exploit”:
Each of these areas expand along an axis from + to – as follows:
Stimulation (fun, art, curiosity, novelty) <-> Discipline/Control (order, justice, asceticism, moral, hygiene)
Dominance (power, victory, competition, elite, freedom, assertiveness) <-> Fantasy/Enjoyment (dreaming, trust, sociability, indulgence, sensuality).
Balance (safety, tradition, home, family, health) <-> Thrill/Adventure (impulsiveness, creativity, extravagance, spontaneity).
The various combinations of these traits, and the degree to which they are dominant in a person or a group of people, can give you an idea of the approximate type of personality you are dealing with. Needless to say, you need to adjust your communication strategy to engage the different types of customers. A performer will react to something completely different than a harmonizer or a conservative, for instance.
So know your audience, your niche, and your product. You can then use careful wording and imagery that targets these exact basic needs and personality styles of your customers, thus forging an emotional bond that circumvents rational arguments against your product.
Unfortunately, many small business owners choose to go with a brand that they are excited about, forgetting that the target audience may resonate to an entirely different story.