I’ve been, and still am, a direct marketer. One of the great appeals of direct marketing is that it can be very scientific. A typical television advertiser, e.g., a car dealer, has little clue as to the effectiveness of a particular ad. If showroom traffic was up, maybe the ad worked. Or, perhaps the weather was nice and it was a good day to look at cars. Or, maybe there was a favorable story in the newspaper about the latest product introduction. Direct marketers, on the other hand, tend to have statistics galore. They can analyze the response rates of mailing lists, and demographic segments of mailing lists. They can do split run tests to check cover designs, pricing, and different products. Famously, years ago someone tested whether a crooked stamp on a direct mail letter boosted response. (It did.)
Web marketers can outdo even the best catalog marketers, though. Sophisticated logging and analysis tools let them analyze what people looked at, how long they looked, which paths they took through the site, whether they purchased on their first visit or came back three times before buying… that’s data a catalog marketer would kill for, but simply can’t get.
In recent years, though, scientists and marketers are developing new tools and techniques that go beyond behavioral tracking – they look at the response of the brain itself. Using the evolving tools of neuroscience, like fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) that provide detailed snapshots of brain activity, researchers can view how you or I respond to an advertisement at the most fundamental level. There’s been more than a bit of controversy and outright skepticism, but I think that for specific kinds of research neuroscience will become just another tool, like focus groups and eye-tracking.
This blog is intended to keep readers up to date on what’s happening in the area of brain science and marketing, and, more importantly, to create a dialog and community of individuals interested in neuroscience marketing. Welcome!