Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Helmsman- an original poem dedication

 The Helmsman

To my precious passenger

He stands tall against the wind

Grey-bearded, hand on the helm;

His skiff has survived storms,

Sharks, and the boiling sun.

At the bow sits a small young girl

With only a bucket hat

To protect her from the spray.

She looks anxious, afraid

they will never reach their destination.

Then she comforts herself

With the knowledge that she is not alone;

The Helmsman has made it many times

And is courageous, fearless,

Committed unconditionally to the journey.

He stands tall against the wind

Grey-bearded, hand on the rudder;

And he understands

The importance

Of arriving.

Fuck the rest.

Essential tools for marketers 2022- Introduction to Behavioral Economics and Neuromarketing


I know- you think this is above your pay grade and taking things a bit too far, right?

Not really. These are the tools of the future. Why do you need them?

1. With online being the default shopping medium now and forever, customers are more anonymous and competition for their acquisition, retention and development is ever tougher. The goal is their loyalty so you won’t have to woo them away from the competition every time.

2. There is no such thing as “customers” anymore. The days of the “market” are over. Now we have COHORTS of customers. Like Gen X Asians, Millennial Latins, HENRYs and so forth. Each of them has a different mentality, concerns, issues, and culture.

So, the challenge takes us beyond databases and CRM software. Those and their avatars are useful to tell you what customers did, but not why they did it and they are not adequate predicters of what they will do next. Think about Google Analytics: you can learn a lot about what happened on your web site—which pages were most visited, how long customers stayed on a page or your site, etc. But why? And who are they? Broad strokes.

Then what can we do? Let’s start with what we cannot do. Let’s be honest, many (most?) brands targeting efforts, if not with their brands themselves, then with categories and products, amount to throwing s**t against the wall and seeing what sticks. This is both expensive and time consuming.

How can we get better and faster, while producing efficiently and fulfilling the third part of the “cheaper better faster” formula? What I discovered, which I believe is the answer that we need in the post-Pandemic world, is: Get inside your customer’s mind (or minds). Just as Sun Tzu teaches us in the Art of War and his other writings, the goal is to see them and be them. Think like them. Understand what moves them and what doesn’t. Learn their fears and their aspirations.

This is not new. IN the past, brands have understood that they need to hit the customer’s pain points and desires. A great example of this is the Marlboro Man campaign, which lasted from 1954 to 1999. The difference is that this campaign was targeted at the mass market in the US and globally to those who admire the cowboy macho ethic. Today we can aim campaigns like this at the cohorts we want to target and, if we understand their environment and mentality, be specifically successful.

Where do we start? Where do we begin to learn about the human mind and its decision-making process? There are lots of places, but here’s my epiphany: Thinking Fast and Slow by the Nobel-Prize-winning behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman.  

The book is based on the premise that human minds house two sectors, which Kahneman calls System 1 and System 2. System 1 is our unevolved “lizard brain” (see below for more): affective, reactive, intuitive, the center of fight or flight and always fires first; System 2 is our cognitive, rational brain which is in charge of thinking through what System 1 has sent and making rational decisions. Here are some examples of this phenomenon:

The picture above is from the first chapter of Kahneman’s book. Think about your reaction and how it occurred when you saw it.

Did you have to think through your reaction? No, you didn’t. Your System 1 was firing, and your System 2 had no answers as to why she appeared so angry.

Another example: Answer this equation- 24 x 17. Your System 1 could not help with the answer except for feeling anxiety and referring the job to System 2.

One more. Answer this with your first thought: 

A bat and ball cost $1.10

The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball.

How much does the ball cost?

(Answer at end of article)

Based on what I have told you up to know, what percentage of your thought process do you think comes from System 1 and how much from System 2? (Next footnote for answer)  Shocked? Reason 1 for behavioral based marketing: We don’t know about how we ourselves think, so how can we accurately predict the behavior of others?

Neuroendocrinologist (jeez!! Neuroendocrinology and marketing? Read on) Robert Sapolsky teaches us, which he summarizes in the video, “3 Brain Systems that Control your Behavior”  teaches us that our brains are composed of 3 distinct sections: Reptilian, Limbic and Neo-Cortex. Briefly, their main function is-

1. Reptilian- The Regulator. At the base of the brain. Controls how we react to stimuli. This is the unevolved part of our brain, which does things like control your body temperature and glucose levels.

2. The Limbic Brain- A mammalian specialty which controls emotions- fear, anxiety, arousal, longing. Fight or flight.

3. The Neo Cortex- “Neo’ in that it is the newest part of the brain, and developed more highly in mammals, then apes, then us. This is where actual “thought” takes place.

So, the Reptilian and Limbic parts of our brain are what Kahneman describes as System 1, and the Neo Cortex is System 2. Sapolsky points out that signals do not go one way only, but are in constant flow back and forth, which is what makes us more complicated.

What does all this have to do with marketing? Neuromarketing, which Dr. Terry Wu describes as the “Science of Consumer Decisions”  allows us to use this knowledge to elicit known reactions from our customers. Marketing from this standpoint will allow us to make more effective decisions.

Roger Dooley, on the website, suggest 7 Ways to engage our customer’s reptilian brain. The goal is captivation. What does that involve?

“These include tapping into your audience’s pain points, appeal to their innate selfishness, demonstrate importance through contrast, emphasize value tangibility, focus on beginning and end, use a visual metaphor, and strike an emotional chord.” 

Does this mean we can seduce the customer into purchasing strictly based on their fears? Maybe, but in humans eventually System 2 will intervene. For example, if we want to sell something expensive to our customer and we are successful, we are in danger of being negated by Post-Purchase Dissonance from System 2- “Why did I spend all that money?” and a subsequent return and customer alienation.

What should we do? For one, we need to understand that, after captivating the customers reptilian brain, we need to satisfy their Neo Cortex with good reasons for the expenditure- quality, longevity, etc. so their Biofeedback will calm the reptile.

More, we need to pay attention to the Thrill Factor, as described by the Japanese researcher Noriaki Kano his Kano Model:


Higher satisfaction, the unexpected that exceeds expectations, delight will soothe both the reptilian brain and the Neo Cortex.

If we as marketers want to measure these impulses specifically, we have tools like MRI, EEG, Facial profiling which can quantify the information we seek.

There is so much more to know and learn about Neuromarketing (I hope this introduction piques your interest!) but if I wrote more, you probably wouldn’t read it (another System 1 triumph specifically developed by our addiction to online-based information- severely limited attention span to details- give me the bottom line-fast!).

For more information and insight, contact me ( or Google.

All this being said, there is one goal of Customer Relationship Management that is unchanged from when Gerhard Raab wrote about it in 1998: Our goal is Customer Lifetime Value-keeping customers around for as long as possible by securing their loyalty and commitment and having the ability to segment those customers that make our business happen. 

Neuromarketing is an opportunity to apply technology to marketing on the front end which is possible in 2022 and essential in the post-Pandemic world- not to identify and understand the ubiquitous “market” but for targeted cohorts that are right for our value proposition.

Here’s looking at you. Really looking at you. 

© 2022 Michael Serwetz

Fan Favorites