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How are impressions formed? What motivates a person to buy?
We used to think the act of buying was a fairly logical process. A product engaged our attention, we gathered info about it, determined our interest level, and then bought or not. But now we know better…
What exactly creates a compelling customer experience? Via brainstorming with one of my favorite CMOs, Steve Mann of LexisNexis, we’ve uncovered the formula, thanks to our mutual love of neuromarketing.
Here are Steve’s top 3 strategies:
Strategy #1: Engage the Whole Brain
The experience a customer has with a brand is one of the most Illogical aspects of marketing. We engage with brands on three levels (1) rational, (2) emotional and (3) instinctual. The degree to which a brand satisfies these “three brains” is the degree to which we have an affinity for it—and want to consume its products and services.
Check out Steve’s experience with Banana Republic. “When I walk into the store, I admire the design and the efficiency of the store layout. It appeals to the rational and emotional sides of me. Then I try on a pair of jeans, and say ‘wow, I look great!’”
So–first an emotional appeal to buy the jeans, then an instinctual argument (the desire to look attractive to his mate), then he looks at the price and gets rational (“Can I afford these pants?”) then he considers all three aspects of the brand experience… the rational, emotional, instinctual and decides whether to purchase.
Strategy #2: Reinforce the Customer Experience
Our brains use habit, experience and emotional cues (all largely unconscious) to make decisions about both the quality of our interactions and buying decisions related to a brand. So we need to intentionally affect the brand experience and perceptions of that experience. And if we’re able to provide new brand information for the brain to process we can even change a consumer’s experience and buying behavior (switching Pepsi drinkers to Coke, for example).
We do this by associating positive themes with the brand experience in the buyer’s mind. When we first have an experience with a brand via mobile app, web site, product, or advertising we create a memory. If we have additional experiences with the brand, new memories are added and the experience is reshaped or reinforced–whether positive or negative. Emotional and instinctual marketing messages reinforce the brand experience more powerfully than rational messages.
“As marketers it’s our job to reinforce positive brand attitudes. We ‘train’ an attitude toward a brand by providing repetitive, positive cues about it… the quality of its online community, the ease of use of its products, the ‘thank you’ at the end of customer support call–they all add up. Think of it as ‘mental sailing’—competitive sailors constantly pull seaweed off the boat’s hull to reduce drag and increase speed. The same is true with neuromarketing. Every experience with a brand, large or small must reinforce the positive mental constructs the individual has with a brand.”
Strategy #3: Forge Compelling Brand Associations
To do this Steve recommends a 3-pronged approach:
1-Create a customer advisory team – Create a customer advisory team for design feedback.LexisNexis uses a private online community of 300 legal professionals. Their community members provide design, marketing and messaging feedback and product innovation ideas. They represent the market LexisNexis serves and have a vested interest in the enterprise’s success. Whether for product, email layout, branded communities, etc., Steve recommends leveraging industrial design firms likeIDEO or state of the art marketing and branding agencies like Liquid to take your User Experience to the next level.
2-Create a conversation calendar with “3 brain” messaging – A conversation calendar lays out what you’ll talk about through your organization’s social channels. This enables you to pace the cadence of positive associations with your brand. For example, on Mondays you may take a “kindling” strategy where your social team asks questions to spark a conversation such as “tell us about something we did to make your life better this past week?” On Tuesdays & Thursdays you may take a curation approach where you post content of interest to your market. On the other days, create original content with evocative messaging to create positive memories and associations in the consumer’s mind about your brand.
The LexisNexis Real Law campaign uses a “Haiku” approach: these are 3 sentence display ads that focus on the brand’s emotional, rational and instinctual messages. The ads direct consumers to a content marketing hub where valuable free content is provided to clients and prospects. Here’s an example:
This is tackling controversial new legislation (instinctual and rational)
This is knowing how it will affect your client (rational)
This is why they trust you (emotional and instinctual)
3-Rinse and repeat – Reinforcing familiarity with your brand enables consumers to move from appreciating and liking it to becoming an advocate. Your conversation calendar helps drive repeat messaging. Be sure to refresh messaging to expand the network of positive brand associations. Steve recommends a refresh every three to six months. LexisNexis keeps expanding both the content and the Haikus in their Real Law campaign to encourage developing new associations with the brand. You should too!
What are some memorable customer experiences you’ve had? What has made them compelling?
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Christine Comaford is a neuroscience-based leadership and culture coach supporting clients in remarkable growth. Her current NY Times Bestseller isSmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together (Portfolio/Penguin).
LexisNexis is a client of Christine’s firm, SmartTribes Institute.