What You Need to Know About the New Science of Persuasion: The Intersection of Brain Science and Marketing

Even though the first neuromarketing companies appeared in the early 2000s—including SalesBrain, which I co-founded with my business partner, Patrick Renvoise in 2001—the field of neuromarketing is still considered to be in its infancy. While the popularity of research methods based on brain science has accelerated over the last five or six years, too many marketing research professionals continue to resist learning and/or adopting techniques that involve measuring and interpreting neurophysiological data.

neuromarketing research, persuasion science

On the other hand, no one would argue that continuing to trust that consumers can accurately and properly describe how cognitive and emotional impact marketing stimuli affect them is ludicrous. To be clear, I don’t believe that consumers are pathological liars. Rather, I believe that too much of the way we experience an ad or navigate a website is driven by factors that affect us far below our level of consciousness.

Whether you are excited or skeptical, if you are interested in gaining a practical understanding of neuromarketing research, you will appreciate a “down to earth” description of the pros and cons of the most popular methods.  You might also appreciate learning enough about each method to know what questions to ask future vendors so you can begin to benefit from the science when it comes to your own sales, marketing, and advertising initiatives. While increasing numbers of companies are offering neuromarketing services these days, few have gathered the experience and credentials to claim world-class status.

Advertising Effectiveness

When I teach the science of persuasion, including neuromarketing—whether to graduate students in my role as a professor, or to executives and sales and marketing teams as a seasoned executive myself—the first place I typically begin is with the neuroscience of advertising effectiveness. In fact, SalesBrain was the first company to publish and train executives in the neuromarketing space. To achieve the powerful and concrete results we have witnessed with the adoption of neuromarketing techniques grounded in the science of persuasion, we unveiled and taught a unique persuasion model we call NeuroMap™.

If you had lived during the California gold rush of the 1840s you might have succeeded in making a huge fortune digging or panning for gold if you got lucky enough to find the perfect spot. However, if you had had the advantage of a map that revealed exactly where to go looking, your success would have been ensured, with far less effort than those who lacked a map.

In the field of persuasion science, Neuromap™ is a critical tool that helps you to explain and predict the effect that ads, websites and even face-to-face presentation have on our brains. The decades of research, science, and theory behind Neuromap as a persuasion model offer an undeniable edge to persuasion professionals, whether your focus is on sales, marketing, advertising, social media, branding, or professional messaging of any kind. In fact, the science behind Neuromap can even help you influence your colleagues, peers, partners—not to mention your children—so they can each see and understand the value of your proposition when you are ready to state your case.

Collecting Neurophysiological Data and the Matter of Ethics

The second critical arena in understanding and integrating the science of persuasion in marketing research is focused on key methods of collecting neurophysiological data. Choosing the right method is challenging and often confusing, so it is vital to be attuned to the pros and cons of each method. In fact, using neuroscience is currently the only way I know of—succeeding well beyond traditional marketing research—to crack the highly complex code of what goes on in consumers’ brains.

Finally, if you are going to dip your toes into the field of neuromarketing, you must absolutely consider the ethical component. In the early days of SalesBrain, the question of ethics arose virtually immediately when it came to conducting research using neuroscientific methods. In the absence of good education on the subject, it is easy to target neuromarketing researchers and assume that they often violate critical rights of research participants. In fact, when I joined the board of the newly formed Neuromarketing Science and Business Association in 2011, I volunteered to lead the authorship on the first fundamental code of ethics for the fledgling industry. Today, all members of the NMSBA pledge to respect the code and no violation has yet been reported. While the risk is real, the practice of ethical neuromarketing research is safe and can meet the highest standards of research on human subjects.

In summary, if you’re still reading this post in hopes of gaining enough confidence and understanding to make the next move for your career or for your corporation, you’ve absolutely come to the right place. The field of neuromarketing, which I helped pioneer two decades ago now, is increasingly recognized and valued as being light years ahead of traditional marketing research, which was my original focus in my MBA which I earned when I was in my twenties. Neuromarketing is to marketing what quantum physics is to physics! The more we learn about the human brain and its decision-making processes, the more we understand that there are clear tools and techniques that help us appeal to the part of the brain that decides—the primal brain.

The art of making a deal, which used to be reserved for the select few to whom it seemed to come naturally, is now a science that can be learned by anyone who makes the decision to pursue it. This is not a coincidence! Persuasion science is the 21st century version of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” If you find yourself wondering how you might persuade more powerfully, close more prospects, increase your income, and offer more value to clients, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

SalesBrain provides not only a suite of services from neuromarketing research, to sales training, to developing creative assets that set your brand apart, we now offer a comprehensive certification as a Persuasion Pro for coaches and consultants, empowering you to use a proven model of persuasion to produce predictable results.