We’ve thrown the term, neuromarketing, around a lot the last few weeks. This term has been hailed as a much needed marketing revolution, and it has also been demonized as a great farce based on pseudoscience. The truth lies somewhere in between.
As with any industry disruptor, there are evangelists on both extremes of a debate. What we can tell you from experience is that decades long traditional marketing practices have not entirely pulled their weight. This is based on both lack of quantifiable results, as well as the most important indicator. The customer.
What The Customers Say
In a Gallup Survey of ethics of different professions, advertising practitioners perceived ethics ranked just slightly above care salesmen and politicians. You can read the poll results for yourself, but suffice it to say that marketing professionals rank pretty darn low.
You may be asking yourself, as a company whose primary business is digital marketing, why are we pointing this out? Because it’s true. Not only do I watch the reasons for this frequently take place, I myself have been on the other side of the fence.
As a business owner, before entering into this space, I would get an average of 10 phone calls and 15 emails a month from some outfit offering to make my life easier and my income sky rocket. In the beginning, I entertained these interactions, because who doesn’t want to see their business grow with less effort? What amazes me even more, is that as a successful marketing firm, we still get those phone calls and emails with the same tired promises.
Only last week, I received a call from what appeared to be a local number, where the agent on the other end of the phone presented as an official Google partner. Without asking even a single question about what our business was, he fed me a line indicating that through a Google business audit, we were flagged as having an incomplete business profile. He just wanted to be of service and make sure our business hours were up to date on Google Directory, and offer marketing advice.
While this is an extreme example of downright dishonest presentation, as an industry there is a lack of clarity. Why? Because there is an ingrained culture of hype, flash, and promises based on unclear strategy. There is also a clear lack of verifiable, data driven results.
In many cases, this isn’t due to dishonesty or intentional fraud. It sometimes is a lack of confidence due to a lack of data driven strategy. Many times, agencies are great at flashy design and have a basic understanding of motivating copy. They may even understand analytics around things like SEO and the skill to build a website. Most of the business world does not have this skill or knowledge and they also know they need to have a digital presence.
Potential marketing clients know these things have value, but are also often unclear as to what a reasonable price is. The result is hundreds of thousands of agencies and freelancers competing for your business based on creative copy and visual design rather than quantifiable value.
In part, that’s because science and data are a tricky business, especially if their true value isn’t well understood. That leads us to why there is sometimes a pushback against neuromarketing and a knee jerk reaction to label it as pseudoscience.
Studies are only as good as the quality and quantity of the inputs that go into them. For example, There have been university studies performed on a small number of student-volunteers measuring micro-expressions. While the initial results have been exciting, they hardly scream scientific certainty. Looking for a leg up in the market place, some agencies tout these kinds of results as a basis for strategy, but with the same lackluster results.
More than once, we have had companies come to us and say, I’m paying x dollars a month, but I’m not really sure what I’m getting in return.
So what is the solution? How do you, as a business owner, determine who to go with and how understand your ROI? These are great questions, and the good news is that there is an answer. The solution does in fact reside in the field of science and it also lies in the age old truth that what get’s measured, is able to be improved. It’s just a matter of knowing what you are measuring, why your are measuring it, and then having the skillsets to make the adjustments.