NeuroMarketing – what BDMs must know

Exclusive Interview, NeuroMarketing fundamental principles.



Media update’s David Jenkin spoke to Kaleidoscope’s NeuroMarketing Director, Colleen Backstrom, about what they do.

How is Kaleidoscope using NeuroMarketing? NeuroMarketing reduces the guesswork when it comes to digital campaigns, and Kaleidoscope is one South African company putting it to use. This new field of marketing applies neuroscience in the quest to improve the effectiveness of digital marketing in breaking through the clutter.

What is NeuroMarketing ? It’s a field of study that creates a structure with which we can design better campaigns. It is the study of choice, the subject of ongoing research at Harvard and the world’s leading business schools, and helps marketers understand how the brain behaves in decision-making. What’s most important for me is that because it’s a measurable science, we are now in a position to guarantee results for our clients. In fact, we don’t take on a client unless we can get them to ROI.

How long have you been practicing and what is your core mandate? NeuroMarketing has been part of our core offering since 2003. We offer stand-alone e-campaigns and in-house workshops. We are typically approached by corporates when they find that their e-marketing campaigns are not working anymore. With continuing pressure from the boardroom to prove ROI, they are looking for a guaranteed way to improve sales.

What are the fundamental principles of NeuroMarketing when applied to e-campaigns? NeuroMarketing is a wide field, however, when we design an e-campaign, two fundamentals are crucial. They are easy to apply but require a mind shift.

Firstly, our emotions drive our decisions. In traditional marketing, the focus is on facts and benefits. In NeuroMarketing , we focus on emotions, which drive 95% of our decisions. So, instead of starting with “what do we need to say today?”, we start with “what do we want the viewer to feel?” What I especially like about this new methodology is that neuro-persuasion is soft, not aggressive; it operates with respect for our viewers and gains their trust with the old principle of ‘walking in another man’s shoes’.

The Harvard research paper Eyes, Brain, Business, reveals how the brain priorities visual information. This research underpins the importance of using people, specifically faces, in our e-marketing. “Without fail, we look at faces before our eyes go anywhere else”. This led to Kaleidoscope’s own research on using the power of a product persona in our e-campaigns. As the emotional area of the brain connects strongly with faces, we use pictures of people, specifically eyes and smiles, to create screen ‘stickiness’. A portrait of a person, preferably female, looking out towards the viewer, dramatically increases the emotional connection within the first 0-3 seconds.

How does South Africa stack up in comparison with other regions in terms of the adoption of NeuroMarketing techniques? Globally, there’s been a boom in companies supplying consulting and measurement services e.g. brain scanning equipment, measurement, analyses etc. However, our research study covering 28 countries in February last year revealed only three agencies in the world (Kaleidoscope and two others in Holland and Germany) practice applied neuro research – using the science to make money for their clients.

Most South African corporate marketing is still locked in traditional thinking. There’s not one South African university or business school that has NeuroMarketing for digital as a formal study area.

After a Kaleidoscope NeuroMarketing Workshop or presentation, my clients often complain that when they take this new knowledge back to their companies, they get blocked, as it’s “not part of the corporate profile/template”. The breakthrough comes only when senior management sees it as the new way to drive revenue and growth. Therefore, my focus this year is to speak to more executive boardroom groups.

What common misconceptions around NeuroMarketing do you encounter? NeuroMarketing is often confused with the psychology of marketing and consumer behaviour and/or NLP (neuro-linguistic programming).

NeuroMarketing differs in that it’s the actual measurement of what’s going on in the brain when we engage the senses – how we make choices. So, for the first time in the history of marketing, we can take the guesswork out of our creative campaigns. For me, that’s the most powerful tool I can offer my clients.

Colleen Backstrom
Director of Kaleidoscope NeuroMarketing

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"Be the best, it’s the only market that’s not crowded." Tom Peters, business author and speaker