In its simplest form, marketing is about selling products and services to consumers. It’s about shining a spotlight on what makes those products unique and persuading the consumer to buy.
But effective marketing goes much deeper than that, and that’s where Tim Ash comes in.
Ash is an expert in neuromarketing and evolutionary psychology, a form of marketing that taps into the needs of the primal brain to encourage consumers to commit.
Some of the techniques that Ash uses and the methods that he exploits include:
- Using Color to Stand Out: Colors trigger very specific reactions in our brains but finding the “right” color is not as easy as recognizing that blue is calming and red is passionate. Consumers vary in their response to these colors and there are also cultural connections to consider. Ash suggests using unique colors for standout features like call-to-actions. If you use a red CTA, make sure you don’t have several other red buttons on the page.
- Removing Choice: Consumers like having multiple options to choose from, but the most effective neuro-marketing strategies remove those choices and make their lives easier. Why shop for a new type of milk every day when your favorite one will be delivered every morning? Why look for new grooming products when a box of the best ones will arrive when you need them? Make a consumer’s life easier and they’ll remain loyal.
- Proper Presentation: How you present your USP is often more important than what it offers. It’s about pain points. Where teeth whitening is concerned, “you won’t be ashamed to smile in public” is often more effective than, “you’ll have a Hollywood smile”.
- Loyalty Marketing: The purpose of loyalty marketing is to capitalize on consumer desires. It’s about gathering momentum and making the consumer feel like they have control and are always progressing toward their goal.
- The Primal Brain: The primal brain is what makes all of the decisions. It is one of the few constants that marketers can rely upon in an ever-changing world. Understanding how it works and how to manipulate it is integral to Ash’s work and it is discussed in more detail below.
You can learn more about these strategies and others in the full guide (and video) below.
Make sure you read/watch to the end, where you’ll learn about Tim Ash’s number 1 recommendation related to neuromarketing and evolutionary psychology.
Video Interview & Audio Podcast Experience – Tim Ash & NeuroMarketing
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What Is The Primal Brain And NeuroMarketing?
The primal brain is the part of your brain responsible for decision-making. It’s the brain’s operating system and it’s something that we have in common with all animals.
Conversely, the rational brain is the area that activates after these decisions occur, explaining and rationalizing them.
We like to think that our decisions are made by our conscious brain and by the rationality that makes us human and sets us apart from other animals, but most of our actions occur in that foundational and primal part of the brain.
As for neuromarketing, it’s a term that describes the application of neuroscience to marketing. It’s about studying how the brain reacts to marketing stimuli and then developing strategies based on those reactions.
How To Use Evolutionary Psychology And Neuro Marketing
But there are many unique variations and Ash’s ideas are all backed by a deep understanding of human psychology.
These ideas include:
The Implications Of Negativity
Tim talked about the concept of “no pain no gain” as it applies to marketing, and it all stems from the idea that if you can’t create pain in the consumer, you won’t get the gain of their money.
Teeth whitening is a great example.
Successful teeth whitening companies don’t simply focus on the idea that you get “whiter teeth”. It’s all about how you don’t need to hide your smile if you use their product. As a result, you won’t struggle with relationships and even your career.
They focus on the fact that people hate yellow teeth and feel self-conscious when they have them. Teeth whitening, therefore, is a release from that state—it gives the consumer freedom.
In marketing, you will get more of a reaction by focusing on the negatives (not hiding your smile) than the positives (whiter teeth).
That doesn’t mean you can’t focus on being cheaper and more effective than other brands. Those points should remain, but they need to do so in a way that eliminates pain for the consumer.
Dollar Shave Club is one of the best examples of this.
The whole concept of Dollar Shave Club is based around cheaper razors and grooming products, but the bulk of its early advertising focused on the idea that you are overpaying for razors and will spend thousands on these cheap pieces of plastic during your lifetime.
The “pain” here stems from the statement that you’ll be throwing money away completely unnecessarily, and nothing hits a consumer harder than an empty bank account.
Another way that Dollar Shave Club benefits from evolutionary psychology is via the use of subscription models.
Consumers want things to be easy. They hate needing to remember when they should be restocking, and they hate running out of the things they need.
By giving them a subscription model, Dollar Shave Club was saying, “We’ll do all of the remembering for you”.
From the perspective of the consumer, it saves time and energy as the consumer doesn’t need to think about it.
It’s something that you see a lot with loyalty marketing.
Loyalty marketing is all about making the customer’s life easier and rewarding them for keeping those subscriptions and maintaining that loyalty. It’s often phrased as something like, “We appreciate you returning to us time and time again. We know you have choices to make and value the fact that you keep choosing us”.
In reality, however, there’s rarely any choice. If anything, loyalty marketing is effective when it removes the burden of choice. It’s about providing a passive connection that doesn’t require effort on behalf of the consumer.
In other words, it’s not equivalent to standing in front of a supermarket aisle and consistently choosing the same brand every time. It’s more about getting that brand sent to their door every month so they don’t have to face those shelves.
The Value Of Certainty
People are always willing to pay a premium for certainty.
If you’re booking a vacation, you’ll happily pay a little more to guarantee that you’ll have a rental car, hotel, and tickets to the most sought-after attractions. The more essential something is, the more you will be willing to pay for that certainty.
For example, let’s say that you’re booking a three-week trip around Europe. You’ll be driving across several countries, but you want to begin your vacation in London where you can see Buckingham Palace.
You’ll be happy to pay a little more to reserve a car and a hotel room in the city. After all, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the car or room that you want if you leave it to the last minute.
You may even pay a premium to reserve a tour around Buckingham Palace. But would you pay a higher price to book a table at a local restaurant or to find hotel rooms in France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany? Maybe not. Those things are less important as you have more choices and it’s not as disastrous if you don’t get what you want.
Of course, not everyone places the same value on certainty. Some travelers prefer to wing it and just book whatever rooms they can find. They take a chance because they are happy to deal with the consequences if they don’t get what they want.
They are the exception, though. They are the minority. When you’re dealing with human psychology, there are always going to be people who think a little differently and that’s fine.
As with any other kind of marketing, neuromarketing is about casting a big net, getting all of those valuable consumers, and not really caring if a few fish slip through the net.
Presentation Is Key: The Right Phrasing Can Sell Anything
Imagine that you need surgery and the doctor states the following:
“There is a 5% chance that you will die on the operating table”.
It’s a pretty stark warning and it’s enough to send anyone into a panic, even though that 5% equates to a 1 in 20 probability and is firmly in your favor.
If your doctor presented you with that statement, you’d likely pay attention and start to worry. But what if they stated the following?
“There is a 95% chance that everything will be okay”.
It’s the same statement, but because you’re being presented with a 95% positive outcome and not a 5% negative outcome, it hits home a little differently. What’s more, the second statement leaves some room for ambiguity.
If you read between the lines, you can understand that the 5% “not okay” means you’ll die, but that’s not explicitly mentioned.
The lottery is another great example.
I have a background in mathematics and my job in eCommerce means a lot of my work is based on marketing. For a long time, I was fascinated by how lotteries were marketed and why they were so successful.
After all, your odds of winning are ridiculously small and yet millions play.
The most successful lottery in the UK managed to hook an entire nation during the 1990s with an ad campaign that focused on the tagline, “It could be you”. A big finger would pop out of the sky and point to a random person on the street.
That resonated with the general public. “She/he looks like me. If I buy a lottery ticket, maybe it will be me”.
We see something very similar here in the US with the Powerball and Mega Millions. People can’t truly process how astronomical the odds are and the only thing they can think of is, “Someone has to win it” and “it could be me”.
It’s a thought process that doesn’t make much sense, but it works because the information is presented in a way that we think we understand.
The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are nearly 1 in 300 million. You are 10 times more likely to be hit by lightning. There’s more chance that someone who has never acted will start tomorrow and win an Oscar within 10 years. You’re more likely to be the President of the United States or the unknown heir to a European throne.
It’s staggering, and what’s more staggering is the fact that none of that matters.
You are actually 5x more likely to win the UK Lotto than the Powerball and nearly 25x more likely to win a major Spanish lottery known as Bonoloto. Based on that, and the fact that all lotteries can make you a millionaire, you’d think that people would prefer to play these lesser-known games than Powerball, but that’s not the case.
It’s almost as if the probabilities have surpassed the point of comprehension and so it stops being rational and becomes magical. Lottery companies are selling a dream that we don’t understand and seemingly can’t comprehend.
It’s evolutionary psychology and neuromarketing at its best.
You Don’t Have 8 Billion Customers
Ash talked about the need that humans have to be part of a group, to have their own “herd” where they feel safe. We’re all human, we all think and feel, but we’re very different and that’s something that you need to acknowledge as a marketer.
I have lost count of how many business owners have told me that, “My product is for everyone”. They insist that they have 8 billion potential customers and so there is no limit to how big they can be.
But no brand has 8 billion customers, and if that’s how you think then you don’t have a brand at all.
Your company needs to create that community, that herd. You need to know who you are appealing to as they will be the people who support you and back you.
Are you selling a raw vegan product? If so, you’re appealing to vegans, vegetarians, and people who are concerned about the environment. Sure, your products might be so great that everyone can enjoy them, but that doesn’t mean they will.
There are people out there who don’t care about the environment or animal welfare and get angry at the mere mention of the word “vegan”. There are also people who can’t afford to buy organic whole foods.
Even the biggest brands are limited. Coca-Cola is huge and it’s consumed all over the world, but there are parts of the world that hate American brands, can’t afford to buy soda, and/or don’t like sugary drinks.
I touched upon loyalty marketing above, but it’s something that warrants further explanation.
In essence, loyalty marketing is about creating momentum and giving consumers something they can hold onto, something they can build toward.
For instance, let’s say that you own a car washing business.
You want to encourage loyalty, and so you offer 10% discounts for returning customers. It’s a vague offer and isn’t really substantial. It might work, but it would be more effective to give them a loyalty card that could be stamped every time they visit.
When they have 10 visits, they can get a free car wash. It’s still a 10% discount, but it feels more substantial and as they can see their progression, they’ll be more likely to follow through with it.
You can tap into neuromarketing strategies even further by creating 12 stamps instead of 10 and then giving them two free stamps with their first wash.
They’ll feel like they got something for free, and those stamps give them some momentum, even though it’s basically the same idea as the 10% discount and the “buy 10 get 1 free”.
You see the same thing with reward cards. Oftentimes, customers will embrace higher APRs and fees just to get a few freebies that they may never use.
By adding customization options to those reward cards, banks and card providers can give the customers some tangible control. It’s tangible, and it taps into the bias that we have toward things we create and things we own.
When you own something, you’re an advocate for it. The vast majority of Apple uses who insist that iPhones are better than Samsung phones have probably never used a Samsung device or the Android operating system. The same is true for the Xbox vs PlayStation debate.
They are advocates because they are owners. They did the research, made the choice, and completed the purchase. If the same is true for credit cards, they’ll be more inclined to use it, support it, and recommend it.
The $100,000 Question
At the end of my discussion with Tim Ash, I asked for his $100,000 advice—the one recommendation he would give to anyone learning about neuromarketing, evolutionary psychology, and the primal brain.
His advice was to learn more about people.
If you want to have success in a field where you need to understand people, learn evolutionary psychology.
Stop focusing on technology and start focusing on psychology. Technology moves at a rapid pace but the brain stays the same.
About Tim Ash
Tim Ash is an acknowledged authority on evolutionary psychology and digital marketing. He is a sought-after international keynote speaker and the bestselling author of Unleash Your Primal Brain and Landing Page Optimization.
Tim has been mentioned by Forbes as a Top-10 Online Marketing Expert, and by Entrepreneur Magazine as an Online Marketing Influencer To Watch.
For nineteen years he was the co-founder and CEO of SiteTuners – a digital optimization agency. Tim helped to create over 1.2 billion dollars in value for companies like Google, Expedia, eHarmony, Facebook, American Express, Canon, Nestle, Symantec, Intuit, Humazxana, Siemens, and Cisco.
Grab more info here: https://timash.com/for-event-planners/.