5 Things You MUST Know About Marketing... NOW!

Have you ever noticed that 90% of all article titles start with numbers or a list?  7 Interview No-Nos.  5 Ways To Take Control In Bed.  They really mean.. 1 Way To Get People To Click On Bad Articles. 

And you clicked on it!  Well, you're in luck.  I actually took the time to write a quasi-thoughtful original article rather than just copying something I read at B&N on my lunch hour in Discover Magazine.  It just so happens that there really are five and only five very important must-knows! in marketing-- they are our senses-- sighthearingtouchtaste smell. 

Behind the scenes, Sensory Marketing
 is raging today.  
Sensory marketing and branding have been attempted for the better part of 40 years, but it is only recently that academic research and business have finally built a viable bridge to one another.

But before you pump the feint smell of ice cream into your hotel to bump up the sales of the ice cream shop on the lower floor (as a hotel in Florida did recently), take some time to think about meaning which, of course, I expand on below.  

The ice cream aroma worked well, by the way, and boosted ice cream sales at the hotel dramatically.

You may have heard about marketing research involving music, for instance.  In one such 
experiment, researchers in the United Kingdom decided to investigate the effects of background music on customer purchasing decisions.  So they played French and German music (in the background) at a wine shop alternating the theme each day.  What they found was that on the days that French music was playing, sales of French wines went up by several hundred percent.  The effect was 
the same for German wines on the days it was played in the background.  Musak, a company you may still associate with boring elevator music, is now very active in this type of cutting-edge sound marketing.

Similar results have been found when priming customers with brand colors (via paint and light) and with certain aromas pumped into the retail space.  In fact, many retailers use all three of these techniques today by pumping aromas, such as the smell of french fries at McDonalds (yeah, it's pumped in) through the HVAC system, painting the walls of certain areas of the space to correspond to certain brands, themed music, and even subliminal messages placed in music, art, and video.

As someone who has studied both psychology and computers for more than twenty years, I can tell
you that people are most like computers in the manner in which we receive input.  The human senses, all five of them, are essentially serial ports on our body with respect to our conscious awareness.  This is why we don't multi-task very well.  You might believe that you can multi-task, and perhaps you really are in that 2% of the population referred to as supertaskers, but most people are pretty horrible at it.  Even supertaskers simply appear to be able to switch focus back and forth at a rate fast enough to complete the tasks.

Our brains, specifically the frontal cortex, can really only focus on one thing at a time, but all of that extraneous information is still being processed by certain areas of our brain even when it does not draw our attention.  This is the power of sensory marketing.  It shifts our brain state into a decision-making area that makes it simpler for us to choose the option that is suggested to us by the context of our environment.  Our survival used to depend it quite a bit.

Although there is power in this type contextual, sensory suggestion, these techniques are most effective when they fall within the larger context of personal and social meaning.  In other words, playing German music to sell German wines would probably lose its effectiveness as competitors follow suit and the novelty wears off.  What the brain is actually scanning for is contextual meaning, and meaning is harder to find when the input is fragmented, compartmentalized, and gimmicky.