How can marketers use MRI data and neurolinguistics to develop strategies and campaigns that get better marketing results?

HSFG_DAN_headshotThis week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Hackstone founder and CEO Dan Hack talks about the process his team uses to incorporate lessons learned from FMRI scans in crafting impactful stories that really resonate with audiences.

Dan breaks down what he calls the “three brain framework” and shares a formula for using it to create messaging, campaigns, stories and videos that help viewers convince themselves to make a purchase.

Highlights from my conversation with Dan include:

Hackstone is a video production company that acts as an outsourced creative team for agencies.
Dan and the team at Hackstone use neuroscience research from FMRI scans to determine what taps into peoples’ emotions, and they use that to develop marketing campaigns.
Dan says most marketers make the mistake of leading with facts, when in reality, buyers are driven by emotion, and then look for the facts to back up their emotional decision.
The three brain framework can be used to apply these principles. It segments the brain into three parts – the emotional brain, the logical brain, and the survival brain.
The survival brain decides what information the brain will actually take in based on what is needed for survival.
The emotional brain is where connections and associations are made, and where memories are stored and relationships are developed. It is what triggers the desire to purchase something.
The logical brain is all about facts, and is used to justify the purchases that the emotional brain wants.
FMRI data is used to determine what really resonates with people, and what they really want – as opposed to what they say they might want.
The most important thing in developing marketing messages and campaigns is to determine what your customers want, but unfortunately most marketers start by identifying what they want to tell customers. Dan calls this selfish marketing.

Resources from this episode:

Visit the Hackstone website
Follow Hackstone on Instagram
Check out some of the sources Dan relies on for neuroscience data:

CXL
NMSBA
Journal of Consumer Research
Journal of Advertising Research

Listen to the podcast to learn how to incorporate neuroscience into the development of your marketing strategies.

Transcript

Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast.

I’m your host Kathleen Booth. And today my guest is Dan Hack who is the founder and creative director of Hackstone. Welcome Dan.Dan Hack (Guest): Thanks.

Screen Shot 2020-05-31 at 12.36.22 PMDan and Kathleen hamming it up while recording this episode.

Kathleen: I’m happy to have you here and I am excited to talk about some of the things that you’re working on which are really, really kind of cool and scientific.

About Dan and Hackstone

Kathleen: Before we get into that, for those who are listening and might not be familiar with you or Hackstone, can you talk a little bit about your story and who you are and what you do and also what Hackstone is?

Dan: Yeah, sure. So Hackstone started out as a video production company. I started Hackstone like 12 years ago I think now. We’ve kind of developed into sort of an arm of an agency and it’s been a lot of fun because we get to do the creative things we get to, we get to do different… our clients are all over the place, big and small.

And we get to do a lot of kind of the creative part and work with agencies to come up with the creative, to recommend the creative to their clients and also to our clients.

And then we do a lot of testing.

We do a lot of like, is this going to work, you know, testing storyboards and the creative and then also doing the, you know, we call them postmortems, you know, we’re afterwards you go and see why something worked and why why it didn’t work. Right?

So we’re kind of a production company on steroids we’ve been called. So it’s a lot of fun. We really like what we do.

What does MRI data have to do with marketing?

Kathleen: That’s awesome. One of the things that drew me to talking with you and having this conversation is that I learned that you guys are using actually MRI data and neurolinguistics to figure out more effective ways of tapping into emotions and developing narratives.

I will be the first to say, I’m a huge marketing nerd. And I think while many people think of marketing as this creative discipline, I’m always naturally drawn to the side of it that’s a little bit more scientific, which is why I was like, Oh, I totally want to talk about this.

So tell me, what does MRI data have to do with marketing?

Dan: So nothing and everything all at the same time.

So basically what we’re doing, and it’s funny because you develop instincts, right? About what’s going to work and not work. And there’s always the chase of how do we know this is going to work and why did something work and why did something not work, right?

Like way back when, the reason I got into this whole thing was because I was young, I was creative. I had two projects that fell into my lap. They were really successful and creative people have a huge ego.

And I had a ginormous ego, right? I became so arrogant when I first started this. I wanted to be a director, I wanted to affect the world with my product, right?

And then, you get to projects that don’t work at all, right? That are just flops.

And the thing about a big ego is that they’re incredibly fragile as well. Right? And then you become crushed and everything you thought you believed about yourself is wrong essentially.

So that’s when I really got into the world of like, I wanted to find out why were these two projects after I’ve had this success, why did these projects not work? Right?

Because clients give you their money when they give you their money, they give you their trust as well.

They’re like, Hey, we trust that you’re going to make something that’s going to blow the lid off of our KPI. You know? And, and that’s a lot of responsibility and that’s a lot of pressure as well.

So I was exposed to the world of testing pretty early on in my in my career and, and it just started with just asking people like, do you like this?

Do you, how did we do? Like, do you think this is something you would buy? Is this a good product? Like, how did you resonate with it? What annoyed you?

But there are a lot of problems with that and you find that, that people respond and oftentimes tell you they’re really nice. People inherently are good, right? And they tell you what they think you want to hear.

So the information you get back from them is not entirely accurate all the time. So you go deeper, right? You go into like, okay, well we’re going to use eye tracking technology, right, to figure out like where they’re looking.

And then you go even deeper. You were going to use EEG to see how their brain is firing, which is, which are the like the probes you put on the head. Then you measure sweat glands and you measure pulse.

And basically stop asking them questions. It’s like, Hey, we’re not going to ask you any more. We’re just going to see how you respond to whatever stimuli we put in front of you.

Kathleen: It’s like a lie detector.

Dan: Kind of, exactly. Only less pressure for them. You don’t go to jail afterwards hopefully.

But so then you get into all the way up to FMRI data, which is essentially putting somebody into an FMRI machine. And FMRI stands for functional magnetic resonance imaging. And what that does is it looks at your brain and tells you real time, with a few second delay, how your brain is firing or responding or what parts of your brain are using the most blood right? The most fuel based on what you’re showing somebody. And it’s like a light bulb.

It’s super cool. Like you can show somebody a commercial and you can tell right away based on what parts of their brains are firing, whether they like it or not. Right?

Apple develops their products in FMRI machines where they show the different cases of the different screens of the different iPhones.

And they can tell right away like, okay, well this part of the brain is firing and that means they like it or they don’t like it or they’re responding negatively or positively or whatever.

And really we’ve taken that, so trying to kind of sum it up here, they’ve taken that, we’ve taken that and sort of put that into a framework that we call the three brain framework. That tells you certain things like we know from FMRI data that people don’t respond to facts, right?

But people don’t buy cars because of the safety features, they don’t buy cars because they have the radar you know, the radar cruise control on the highway or the leather seats or whatever.

It’s all about emotion, right?

And that’s why we always go back to how should it make you feel? Right?

That’s how we start every single project. We have two steps. Number one, how should it make you feel? Number two, support that with facts, right?

A lot of people get that backwards. And that’s what we know from FMRI data is that when you’re selling facts, you’re selling to a part of the brain whose only job it is to support the emotional decision that you’ve already made.

Kathleen: Right. It’s to reverse justify what we like. First we figure out what we want and then we figure out how to justify it.

Dan: Right? Exactly. Exactly.

But here’s the thing, like we don’t even know we’re doing it right? Like there’s, one of my favorite studies is a smoking study back from the nineties. I think it was early nineties. The biggest FMRI study ever done where it was when the surgeon general started putting the warning on the packs of cigarettes, right? And researchers wanted to find out like, well, people are still smoking, but people are saying, right, we’re doing these focus groups.

And people are saying like, yeah it’s making me not smoke. Right? And they were like, okay, we need to put these people into FMRI machines and figure out what’s going on.

So first they asked them, they said, do you think the Surgeon General’s warning on the pack of, you know, any tobacco product makes you less likely to smoke or makes you smoke less?

And they were like, yeah, I think so. And then they put them in FMRI machines and they watched their brains as these people, number one smoked, and number two, were exposed to the Surgeon General’s warning, right?

And what they found is super cool. They found that when people smoke, their brains have the same reaction as, it’s the reward center lights up, it just explodes, as when they see the Surgeon General’s warning.

It’s the power of associations, right? So because when people smoke, what they usually do is they stop working, they walk down the hallway, they link up with coworkers, they have a conversation. And the last thing they see before they light a cigarette before this release of dopamine is they see the Surgeon General’s warning, right?

Kathleen: Pavlov’s dog, right?

Dan: And so they create that association, right? It really is. Yeah, exactly.

So in neuromarketing, what you’re doing is you’re trying to figure out how the brain works and you’re trying to, you don’t always have the budget to test every single project, but you’re trying to figure out, you’re trying to make an educated guess on how people are going to respond to certain things, right?

Kathleen: Sorry to interrupt you, but it’s so interesting listening to you talk about this because I’m actually fascinated by the neuroscience behind all the anti-smoking campaigns.

And I had done some research on this as well. And a corollary, kind of additional story to the one you just told, which I think is so interesting is you know, for many years, depending upon how old you are, if you’re listening, you may or may not remember for many years, the government used these campaigns that were these very scary images of like black lungs. And, it’s interesting, they’re starting to do this again now.

What they found, the primary focus of a lot of the antismoking campaigns was on teenagers because that’s like, if you can prevent somebody from starting to smoke in the first place, it’s a much better approach than trying to get somebody who’s already smoking to stop.

Dan: Right?

Kathleen: And so they used to use those scare tactics and like, you know, just like the eggs and this is your brain on drugs kind of thing. And those did not work well.

It wasn’t until they had something called the Truth Campaign where they started to see some success. What the Truth Campaign did, which you may recall seeing, is it scrapped all of those fear tactics.

What they did was they figured out, they really thought about like, why do people smoke? Right? Why do teenagers start to smoke in the first place? Is it because they don’t understand it’s bad for them? No, it’s because they are rebelling against their parents. And that is a form of rebellion.

And so what the Truth Campaign did was it looked at, well, if we want to tap into that feeling of rebellion, how can we leverage rebellion to get them to not smoke in the first place?

So the messaging and the Truth Campaign was all around big tobacco wants to control you and has you in their pocket. So it was like rebel against big tobacco and don’t fall for it essentially.

And that got a much, much better outcome than all the fear tactics. And I feel like that’s kind of like the same thing that you’re talking about.

All of these campaigns, you can pour a ton of money into them. But if you don’t really understand at the very core what is that emotion that somebody is driven by, then you’re not going to be successful.

Dan: Right.

Kathleen: So that was a long tangent, but I’m fascinated by this and there’s so much interesting work being done in behavioral health that I think can inform marketing.

Dan: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And you know, and the problem I think is that it’s still kind of expensive, right?

Like there are research groups and there are subscription services and we subscribe to those where when researchers do this research to find out what campaign was the most successful in this last super bowl, right? And they do the FMRI studies and they’re funded.

You can subscribe to that data and get that data and then use that data to kind of inform what you do.

In a perfect world, yeah, we would have, you know, when we do a car campaign, you know, put people in an FMRI machine to see like, Hey, are they most stimulated by the color? Are they, is that a red car? Is it a white car? Is that a black car? So, those are all the nitty gritty things that you get into.

But I think at the heart of it is exactly like what you said. You need to figure out who your audience is. You need to figure out what they want, and then give it to them. It sounds really simple and it kind of is, right?

And then all these tools, this neuromarketing is essentially, we use that to try to figure out what it is, what exactly is it that your audience wants and how do you give it to them?

Because a lot of clients come to us and they say here’s what we want to say. Or, when you ask them questions like what causes a campaign to not perform well? And usually it goes back to selfish marketing, right? You approach that campaign with what is it that we want to say, right?

We want to tell our story.

Like, the word story, I’m an oppositionist. I get that. But, the word story drives me up the wall. It drives me insane because it’s become this catchall, right? And it’s all like, tell your story has become this romantic replacement to messaging, right? Or information or get your message out there.

What does that mean? Right?

So this is really a sort of a way to figure out what is the right story. There are a million stories. Like, nobody cares who started the company, right? Nobody cares why even necessarily you started the company, right?

People care about other things. And this is really trying to find out what those things are and then giving them those things essentially.

Kathleen: So I have so many questions for you.

Dan: I’ll just go and go.

What is the Three Brain Framework?

Kathleen: No, no, no. I warned you, I’m a huge nerd. And so like you’ve already seen through the smoking stuff, you and I could go for hours on this topic. But I want to break it down a little bit.

So first of all, you mentioned you have this Three brain approach. Can you define for me exactly what that, like what are the three brains?

Dan: Sure.

So obviously, there are more than three parts of the brain, but for our purposes, for this marketing purpose we divide the brain into three parts.

We have the survival brain, you have the emotional brain, and then you have the logical brain, right?

And we look at it as kind of a funnel. All three parts of those brains has its own purpose.

So you look at the survival brain, sort of like a club bouncer, right? He stands in the front with his arms crossed and he decides what gets in and what gets out, right? The brain is cognitive miser, right? So the brain tries to save calories.

He’s the guy who decides number one, is this important to my survival? Do I need to know this information? Is this going to save my life? And then he also decides, is this new information? Do I already know this information or can we just radically summarize that?

So to put it on the shelf, and a good example of that is like your lawn, right? Nobody knows how many blades of grass they have in their front yard right now. It’s not looking good for my yard. I have room for a lot. I’ve only had four like blades of grass or nursing them and, but everybody knows that you have that you have a lawn, right? You see a lawn.

That’s an example of something being radically summarized and then you know, and then put on a shelf. So you have that.

Then if you do get through that, you have the emotional brain, right? And the emotional brain is the, we call it the mother, right? It’s the mammal brain, if you will. You know, some people call it that. And basically that’s where you create associations, right?

Like, Hey, last time when I touched that, it burned me and that hurt. And that’s important to my survival.

And it does other things like memory. That’s where your relationships are built, right? Like where do you fit in, in your tribe? And how do you advance, you know, in your tribe and, and you know, again, important for your survival.

And also you have some really cool things that happen in here, like synesthesia for example, which is like, which is where…

Kathleen: Is that where you see colors as emotions?

Dan: Yeah. Kind of. But it’s like when you’re watching a commercial. We use this in food commercials, right? When you’re watching a commercial and you do a really good job in filming that and getting that across, the viewer will actually taste what they’re seeing, right?

It’s essentially you have these neuro pathways for like vision and for taste and for smell and whatever. And sometimes when they’re really powerful, when you have a train, there’s a train outside.

So that made me think of it. When you have a train like hurling down this neuro pathway, sometimes it’ll jump the track onto another pathway. Right?

Kathleen: I feel like I totally know what you’re talking about because when I go to the movies, my chain of cinemas locally, in the intro kind of footage that leads up to every movie, they always have the sound of the can of Coke popping open. And then the pouring into the glass with the ice and the fizzy sound combined with the ice clinking and the Coke filling.

And I’m like sitting there going, Oh my God, I need a Coke. And I can taste it right now.

Dan: I want that. Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what it is. So that’s the part of the brain where those kinds of things happen, right? And those are the kinds of things we want to do.

And that’s why you make food. Like your goal is to make the viewer taste the food, right? Pizza. Really close shots of the cheese pulls and those kinds of things. Right? Super important.

So anyway, the emotional brain is where we do most of our decision making, right?

Then you have the logical brain and the logical brain is sort of like, it’s like, it reminds me of my dad, right? He’s the accountant and he’s the guy who basically, he’s like the legal department, right? He’s the guy who who ruins the fun essentially, you know, like, like you say…

Kathleen: We call that “the fun sponge”.

Dan: Yeah, exactly. It’s the higher processing.

Dan: And this part of the brain either supports what your emotional brain has already decided when it comes to purchasing or it overrides that decision, right?

So you can go and sit in a Ferrari and you smell that new smell of the Ferrari and you really want it and you feel that emotional connection to the car in that red and that tan leather, you know, or whatever. And then the logical brain comes in and says like, Hey, 2,500 bucks a month. Like that’s more than your mortgage. There’s no way. We’re not doing that.

And really, that’s the way it works. So the emotional brain is where you should be selling, right? When you create something, you should create it for the emotional brain and then create facts to support the logical brain in helping support the emotional brain in making that decision.

So that’s why facts should come second. Yet most of our marketing aims directly for that logical brain, yet that’s not where we make decisions.

Kathleen: Yeah, that makes total sense. Cause I totally know that myself, how I buy. It’s like I see something I like and I’m like, I really want that. How can I justify it? It’s the old saying buy the dress and then find the party.

Where to find neuroscience data

Kathleen: So for somebody who’s listening, I think if they understand this conceptually, you know, if it were me, my next question would be like, great, now how do I find this data to help me figure out what emotions to tap into? And you were mentioning there’s ways you can subscribe to information about FMRI data.

So can you get into a little bit if somebody wants to learn more about this, get tapped into to that kind of data, where can they find it?

Dan: Sure. So I can send you some links afterwards if you want to put those in the show notes there on some of the places where you can subscribe to that. Publications, you can subscribe to even industry standard or industry specific data, you know, that apply directly to your industry.

But a lot of this stuff is really, it’s not new information, right? You have to beat it into your brain to kind of remember that.

So, for example, the principle of the three brains, right? The fact that our minds look for contrast. There’s this framework. Your mind looks for contrast, right? It’s got to get into your mind first without being filtered out. And then you have certain principles that are kind of spread out. They’re all over. And I think you have to make a decision.

So that’s why you have neuro marketing firms who put that together for you if you don’t want to think about it.

But I think it’s important to become familiar with that. And then to put everything you do marketing wise, messaging wise through a framework like that. Does that make sense?

How to apply neuroscience to B2B marketing

Kathleen: Yeah, it does. And, in my head I’m thinking I can see so clearly how you would use this. You used the example of a Ferrari. If you’re selling a Ferrari or you’re selling a food product or you know, clothing or some things that are more consumer facing, maybe more optional products if you will.

But my question is when it comes to, for example, like what somebody might consider to be a boring B2B purchase, like accounting software or you know, like I’m in cybersecurity. Walk me through how you think about developing an emotional tug for something that most people look at as a pretty boring thing.

Dan: Yeah, absolutely. So the first thing before we even get to that emotional tug, we have to remember, get through the bouncer, right?

So one of the things, and I had this super cool example, hold on, I might have it written down here, that that I pulled. Now maybe I don’t. You get these emails where people use industry jargon a lot, right? You first have to think about how do you get through the bouncer.

So you have to make it easy to understand. You have to, you have to understand that you’re super close to your industry. The person you’re talking to might not be super close to your industry.

So understand that your brain immediately asks, do we even let this information in? Whether it’s an email, whether it’s a marketing video, whether it’s a commercial, like whatever it is, whether it’s a billboard even.

Should we let this information in?

And you have to then go to the emotional connection of how do you make that emotional connection.

So when we say emotional connection, you have to emote. What we mean is you have to think about how should this messaging make you feel.

So some questions to ask are, should this make the person feel like I’m an authority? Should this person feel afraid that you know, that somebody is going to hack their system or steal ransomware, viruses, those kinds of things.

Should they feel funny? Or should your messaging feel funny? Should they be amused? So you go back to that. How should it make you feel?

And then you take that information and that information should support that. Does that make sense at all?

Examples of marketing campaigns that have been developed using MRI data

Kathleen: Yeah, it does. It totally does. So let’s get into some examples because you guys have done work with some really interesting companies and I feel like this is especially one of those topics where you can talk about it conceptually and still not understand it. But when you dive into actual examples, it starts to become much more clear.

So can you maybe talk about how you’ve used these principles with some of the companies you’ve worked with to get really great results?

Dan: Sure. Exactly.

So car ads. So I’ll take a local first. So we work with a local brand. It was a Ford dealership and they had done celebrity commercials in the past where they had an athlete say like, Hey, here’s where I’m shopping.

And when we look at data, FMRI data, even with the, with the latest COVID, there’s a lot of data coming out from COVID PSAs where they’re saying a lot of these pieces are falling flat, right? A lot of this messaging from COVID 19 is falling flat, even with celebrities in it. Why is that? Right?

And then you get into like, it’s not just a matter of getting celebrity, you have to put that celebrity in a, in a situation where it’s authentic.

And what’s authenticity? That depends on your brand.

So, a while back, we put an athlete into a set of Ford commercials. And the problem was that athletes can’t act. Not only can’t they act, athletes don’t want to act right. And it was almost like, you know, having this athlete is working. It’s okay, but we’re doing it because we’ve done it in years past and it’s sort of like people expect that from our brands. How do we ramp that up?

So what we did was we came in and we said okay, the athlete can’t act, he doesn’t want to act. He shouldn’t act if he doesn’t want to, so you don’t have to. What does the audience want?

So we created this campaign where we took this athlete, made fun of the fact that he’s in a commercial where he’s being asked to act and he doesn’t want to act.

And it was phenomenal, right? It went all the way up the chain to like, what are you guys doing? This is awesome. This is like the best campaign ever. The athlete had a lot more fun doing the commercial. The client had a much better response from that.

And that trickles down to now you have fundraisers with the athlete where now you have a better response to that. You sell more cars. People are talking about your brand more and most importantly, people remember your brand more.

Because ultimately it’s about attention and it’s about keeping the attention. And then, how were you remembered by the people who maybe aren’t ready to buy now but are ready to buy in 90 days? Wherever they are in their cycle and their buying cycle.

And how do you stay top of mind for that?

Pizza, same thing. You know, in the celebrity line, we work with a pizza brand every year where they have an athlete who works with them to not only sell pizzas but also to raise money for a charity. A certain amount of your sales goes to whatever the charity is. And they had typically had this green screen and put the celebrity up. The celebrity image, let that just do the work. And people didn’t respond to that. So we went back and said, okay, who is the audience here? Who are we really trying to attract?

And it’s fans of this athlete, right?

So you look at the basic framework. You don’t have to FMRI study this to kind of get that framework. We look at that information and we say okay, they want to be entertained.

And the best way to entertain them, and we know this from FMRI data, it’s the associations, right?

So if you were to put a puppy on the screen, and then put the brand at the end, if that’s the emotion you want to be linked to, you are already 75% of the way there, right? When it comes to commercials then you put in your messaging and you make it even better.

And we found in the past that when you take a product and you integrate it into a piece of entertainment, you maintain that audience attention. It’s the sense parts of an advertisement.

So when I say ad, I mean like a video, even a video on Facebook for example. And you’re trying to get a lead or you’re trying to sell mattresses or whatever it is you’re trying to sell, it’s about keeping the attention, and especially how long a viewer stays in a video matters because that’s how you retarget, right? That’s how you recognize how interested they are.

We have a three minute video. They made it all the way to the end, they’re super interested, right?

So it becomes like this capturing the attention and then maintaining the attention. So what we did with the pizza brand is we created a short film and we put this character, the athlete, which was Alex Ovechkin, into this pizza commercial where he was in these absurd scenarios. Like he initially moved here from Russia where pizza was the reason he moved, not hockey. He stumbled upon hockey when he was delivering pizzas, right?

And it was this absurd storyline that was just fun and entertaining. And you saw this athlete in a situation he’s not normally in.

When you’re selling, you’re always asking people for their attention. When they’re seeking you out, that’s when it’s okay to just give them the information, like on an iPhone, right? But when you’re asking them, when you’re interrupting their lives and you’re asking them for their attention, you’re saying like, Hey, we want you to buy our pizza.

Because when you buy our pizza, a portion of your proceeds go to whatever the charity is, you have to make it worth their while.

And we saw a a phenomenal capture rate. Not only that, but the average, I’m trying to think of like what it is now. So the average completion rates for any video for a long form video is about 15%. We were hitting 86, 87% completion rates because when somebody starts the video, they watch all the way to the very end to the logo and to the offer. Which is phenomenal.

And those are the kinds of things, more than just views, you can say Oh yeah, this got 2 million impressions, you know, which is great.

You can buy impressions. Impressions don’t really mean a lot. Are they meaningful impressions?

Ultimately that’s what you’re trying to get to with FMRI, or with any neuro marketing, you’re trying to get to the bottom of, is this meaningful to our audience? You’re getting their attention. You’re hopefully keeping their attention by creating a meaningful experience that is worth their time, which is ultimately the most valuable thing I think we have.

How to get started with neurolinguistics and MRI data

Kathleen: That’s so interesting. Throughout this conversation, you’ve sprinkled in things that are a good guide for somebody if they’re thinking okay, I want to do this.

Can you kind of summarize, if you were meeting with somebody for the first time and you needed to tell them, here’s how you’re going to go ahead and use this concept for your own marketing, what are the steps they should go through? Where do they get started?

Dan: Sure. So we’ve got a framework, I can pull it up here real quick just just as a reference. We’ve got a campaign worksheet that we use for these when we go in that’s based on our three brains.

So for example, we always ask, what’s the purpose of your video? What’s the primary goal of your campaign? And that’s just the background information. So you say who’s your customer? And then how are you going to measure success?

I think it’s super important to figure out how are we even going to gauge if this thing is working or if it’s successful or not? You’d be amazed how many people don’t know.

A lot of times, especially with video, we find that a lot of people come to us and say like, Hey, the CEO wants a video. We don’t really know what the purpose is, but can you just get it off my plate?

We call those box checker videos and then we’re like that nerdy kid in class who’s like, but we still want an A, right? So we’ll get the A for you.

So again, we start out with contrast. So we say like, who are your competitors? And you take inventory of what your competitors are doing.

And again, through this neuro research, we know that it is better to be different than it is to be better. It’s very difficult to quantify better. Like, what is better to some people, right?

So, for example, banks might say, and this is a common thing, when a customer comes into our bank, we know their name. We know them, we have that personal relationship. To me that’s not better.

I love being anonymous. When I walk into a branch and they say, good morning, Mr. Hack, I’m like, Oh cool, I need to find a new bank. They know my name. That’s not good. I don’t like that.

So that’s something that doesn’t work for everybody.

So then you say how many competitors, what are your competitors doing? How do you not do what your competitors are doing? Because we know through the tests we do repeatedly that when you put a series of car commercials that all say the same thing, when you watch the Today Show in the morning and you see the lawyer commercials one right after the other that say, we’re fighting for you, we’re here for you, we’re the tough guys. You know, people don’t remember that.

People will watch that. We watch people watch those. It’s commercials where we’ll put like five or six of those in a row. We’ll watch people watch them. We’ll see them interact with them. Yet at the end of that run of commercials, they don’t remember anything. They don’t remember any of the brands.

Because again, the bouncer, right? The survival brain has decided like, Hey, you don’t need to know this information. Even if you’re in the market for that, you don’t need to know this information. It’s going to use too many calories to process it.

I’m going to put it all together for you, put it in a basket and put it on the shelf. You don’t need to worry about it. People don’t remember what they saw. They don’t remember brands. They don’t even remember the storylines at the end of that.

So the first thing we do is try to figure out, okay, what do we do that’s different? We put that into our framework.

The next thing is simplicity. And this again is the survival brain. So for a long form video, you might decide what are the three points we want to make really well? Where for a commercial you may decide what’s the one point we know, through testing?

When you try to make three points in a 32 second commercial, people remember generally nothing. It’s like 0.5 when you average it out, right? When you put one point in a commercial, when you try to make one point, people tend to remember mostly that one point that you’re making.

So you have to ask yourself, okay, like we want to get these 15 things across in our messaging or in our video. Is this the place for that? Where are you in the buying cycle? And right now when you’re top of funnel, is this the place where you want to try to educate customers on your product? Usually, no.

So because it’s just too much to remember at that point, what do you need to prove to your customer to convince them to buy?

So that’s how you appeal to the logic part, because the logic part is going to ultimately support the emotional part. How should you deliver that information?

And then we look at the reward. The final thing is the reward. Why should your viewer keep watching? And when we test a long form piece, like with the Ovechkin piece for example, it looks fun and it looks interesting and it looks entertaining, but it’s very thought out.

We went through and figured that in a piece like this, you have somebody’s attention for maybe seven, eight seconds before their mind starts wandering. What can we put in there at the seven, eight second mark that is going to recapture their attention, draw them in?

So you have to do that throughout your video. And when you watch I don’t know, like the Purple Mattress for example, is a really good campaign. That was done to repeatedly bring you back in those really good long form, like Dollar Shave.

Kathleen: I was just going to say that first Dollar Shave Club video that made them go viral, you couldn’t stop watching because the pace was so perfect and you knew there was something more fantastic that was coming.

Dan: Yeah. So, and you have to remember that what’s interesting to you is likely not interesting to your customer. And that’s what we talk about as selfish marketing. What do they want to hear versus what do I want to say? Yup.

Kathleen: I love it. Well, okay, so any chance that I could share a link to that campaign framework in the show notes because that sounds like a super valuable document for people to have.

Dan: And then it’s got other things too, which is super cool. What does your customer want? What’s their internal problem?

Then you get into internal versus external problems and those kinds of things. What’s keeping them from having what they want and how do you solve that problem? But ultimately, people remember how they felt when they watched your stuff or when they’re exposed to your brand much more.

And again, FMRI data or not FMRI data, it comes down to the fact that people remember how they felt. They don’t remember what you said.

Kathleen’s two questions

Kathleen: This is so interesting and it’s been so much fun to talk about. I want to ask you two questions and then I want to get into how somebody can follow up and learn more.

So my two questions that I always ask everybody, the first one is, this podcast is all about inbound marketing. I’m curious, is there a particular company or individual that you think is really setting the standard for doing inbound marketing right now?

Dan: Yeah, I do. I think there’s so many of them.

Most of the national long form ads that you’re seeing on Facebook now are really well done. For example, Purple Mattresses, really well done. They have the bears, right? I think Geico, the Martin agency, Geico does a phenomenal job.

And I also think that Dollar Shave Club really was the kind of the groundbreaking long format that changed how long form ads work.

Even though you had that data, there’s a disconnect between people know what the right thing to do is versus them actually doing those things.

Kathleen: I love those examples.

And then the other thing, most marketers I talk to say they suffer from this problem of what I call drinking through a fire hose. Digital marketing changes so quickly. It’s really hard to keep up with best practices and new technology and all that. So how do you personally keep yourself educated?

Dan: So you know, there’s certain people, certain things I follow. Some people follow Gary V – Gary Vaynerchuk. So people like that. You take those sources.

I have a ton of those sources that I use. And then in the morning I sit down and go through them to see what’s happening. And then you decide what you remember and what you don’t remember. I can send you some of those links.

Kathleen: Who are your top three sources? How about that?

Dan: Top three sources? I’d have to say, so I use a lot of the curated stuff like IAB, the newsletters. I use a lot of those. We use CXL. We use a lot of Harvard Business Review.

And then just staying in touch with people. I’ve got a lot of colleagues in the industry where we talk about what’s happening, who’s doing what? What worked for your clients, what didn’t work, what did you find out? Did you hear about a new study that just came out? You know, those kinds of things.

How to connect with Dan

Kathleen: Awesome. Well, if somebody is listening to this and they want to learn more about what we talked about or they just want to learn more about you or Hackstone, what’s the best way for them to connect with you online?

Dan: Hackstone.com. That’s our website. We’re on social as well. We try to make our social a little more entertaining than the website. The team is a lot less ADD and a lot less all over the place than I am. So they typically will do the talking. So if you’re lucky, you won’t have to actually talk to me.

You know what to do next…

Kathleen: Alright, well I think talking to you is fascinating. So if you are listening to this podcast and you liked what you heard or you learned something new, I mean, I know I did this time for sure. This was so interesting. Head to Apple Podcasts and please consider leaving the podcast a five star review because that is how we get found by new listeners.

And if you know somebody else who’s doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me @workmommywork, and I would love to have them as my next guest. That is it for this week. Thank you so much, Dan. This was a really fun conversation. Thanks.

 

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