Whether your current field-marketing strategy puts you behind a trade-show booth or brings you out to the streets, you’ve probably noticed that the biggest difference between traditional- and experiential-marketing efforts is the people!
Unlike a print or digital advertisement strategy, which doesn’t feel disappointment when dismissed or ignored, field marketing puts you at the center of customer interaction. And while there are endless courses offered for different marketing techniques, we still don’t have a user manual for human interactions. That’s unfortunate, since the most important component of experiential marketing involves customer engagement (and it would make your blind dates a lot simpler!).
Though humanity doesn’t come with a user manual, psychological studies have taught us a thing or two about the human brain. And while this social science may seem worlds away from your busy marketing career, hacking into the human brain is an important and inspiring way to rethink the way you engage and excite your audience.
Below, find three keys to rethinking your marketing strategy by unlocking the human brain.
1. The shocking impact of expertise.
In 1963, psychologist Stanley Milgram carried out one of the most important studies of the time, which tested the effect that perceived authority had on obedience. Milgram sought to understand how so many regular people could have committed various kinds of atrocities during World War II, simply because they were acting under orders.
In his experiment, Milgram set up a situation in which participants were given orders by a researcher to press buttons that would send an electric shock to an unseen participant (an actor) in another room. As the experiment continued, the shocks supposedly increased, and although sound effects from the other room portrayed screams of pain from the participant, an overwhelming number of subjects continued to deliver the shocks when urged on by the researcher. Although Milgram’s experiment was extreme, it demonstrated the impact that authority has on human behavior. When someone is perceived to have more authority than us, we are significantly more likely to do as they say.
In all of your marketing efforts, consider the difference that authority can make. When someone is perceived as having authority, people are much more likely to listen genuinely and to do as they are asked. Use marketing strategies that could give your product or service more credibility, such as a stamp of approval from a doctor or expert in the field. Even small changes in title (consider the Genius title for Apple employees) can increase the amount of authority an individual is perceived to have.
2. Get mysterious.
Whether it’s a detective novel, the latest thriller in theaters, or a whodunnit board game, everyone loves a good mystery. One theory posits that we love mystery because it unites us: when something is unexplainable, we must collaborate with others who are equally duped and work together to piece it together. Whatever the reason, a little bit of mystery tends to excite people to seek out more information.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to everything you know about marketing, sometimes less information is actually more. Even simple mysteries can do the trick: if you ever utilize giveaways for customers, consider keeping the prize a mystery (e.g., “Sign up for our email list to be entered for a mystery prize!”). While knowing what the prize is means that potential customers can choose whether or not they are interested, they may be more willing to sign up if they don’t know just how wonderful the prize could be.
3. Come on, get happy.
In today’s internet-savvy world, it seems a company has truly struck gold when they produce viral content. After all, what better press is there than having your brand name posted and shared across the internet?
Still, it seems that there is no rhyme or reason as to what content passes the tipping point to go viral. Studies on the subject have produced some interesting results, finding that shares were greater for content with positive emotional value. That is, people more often shared content that caused awe, laughter, or amusement. Conversely, negative emotions like sadness and anger were the last likely to be shared.
Although it often seems that controversial or heart-wrenching content is prime for sharing, the importance of these results are not to be taken lightly. Consider Coca-Cola’s Friendly Twist campaign, which placed unique vending machines on college campuses. Each coke from these machines came with a cap that could only be twisted off by connecting it to another bottle. Coke’s campaign was fun, friendly, and racked up over eight million views.
Now that you’re rethinking your marketing strategy, keep in mind these psychological studies, and the one thing that they all have in common: how people interact with their worlds. Above all, people respond best to authority, a little mystery, and positive messaging.