Neuromarketing, an emerging field that combines neuroscience and marketing, might finally offer the breakthrough that marketers have been looking for. Marketing technology has increased the ability of marketers and business professionals to measure the effectiveness of their marketing but it has not crossed the ultimate obstacle in marketing.

That obstacle is your customer’s brain.

As a marketer, you never truly know how your customers make purchasing decisions. In fact, many customers might not know either. A researcher from Harvard Business School, Gerald Zaltman, found that an overwhelming majority of purchasing decisions (95%) might be unconscious.

What is Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing offers a unique solution for marketers because it works from the inside of the customer’s brain out. Neuromarketing uses a wide range of tools including eye trackers, fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging), EEG (electroencephalogram), and other techniques that give marketers an internal view of the activity going on in their customer’s brain.

This internal view is important because it allows marketers the ability to access information that marketers wouldn’t otherwise know. Using eye tracking and brain scanning, neuromarketers can track where their customer’s eyes and brains to see how customers actually think. Using facial coding, neuromarketers can assess the effectiveness of their commercials and campaigns in real-time rather than waiting.

So, in short, neuromarketing allows marketers and business owners to peer into a customer’s brain in real time.

Using Neuromarketing as a Small Business

When the word “neuromarketing” is mentioned to people who recognize the term, images of expensive brain scanning machines and laboratory equipment comes to mind. While these expensive machines are a part of neuromarketing, there is plenty you can gain from neuromarketing without buying one machine.

For some insight into this, DIY Marketers turned to Roger Dooley.

Roger Dooley, (@RogerDooley) is marketing agency owner, author, speaker, and blogger with expertise in neuromarketing. He recently chatted about with DIY Marketers about the possibilities of any business in neuromarketing in a recent Twitter chat. (Click here for the replay.)

As Dooley discussed, neuromarketing doesn’t require a Ph.D. or a million-dollar budget. Neuromarketing only requires the application of neuroscience principles to your business situations. These principles are applicable to any person that has a human brain. In other words, your customers.

Let’s look at how some of the insights from that Twitter conversation can be applied to your business.

Simple & Easy Neuromarketing Tips & Hacks

1. Remember this rule: “What a customer sees first, sticks.” Anchoring is a well-known principle known in consumer psychology. Anchoring works on the “first impressions principle: Whatever a customer sees first becomes the standard by which they judge something else.

Disenthrall, a marketing agency, offers three techniques for setting an anchor. One of those techniques is unit pricing. An example of this is a simple changing in pricing (from $1 to 4 cookies for $1). Identifying pricing in this way helps customers remember this price better while also serving as a mental anchor for similar products.


2. Focus on cheap/free tools that focus on user behavior, not just opinions. A common feature of marketing research is the survey. While surveys are important, they don’t capture the whole story. A better predictor of consumer’s preferences is their behavior. Instead of relying on surveys to guide your marketing strategies, observe your customer and how they use your product or service.

How can you do that?

  • If you have a physical location, watch their behavior in your store. Do they shop in a hurry or take their time? D
  • Follow the user experience online. How do your customers use your website? Where do they click?
  • Ask your customers. Many customers will be happy to show you how they use your services. This can be further leveraged to build and connect with potential influencers.


3. Leverage the power of negative reviews. Negative reviews are something that business owners fear in their sleep. According to Dooley, however, they may offer a few benefits. In his article “Why Great Reviews Aren’t Always Great for Sales“, he shares businesses the continual high standard that must be maintained with a high number of positive reviews.

Having a large number of positive reviews can actually communicate the opposite of trust to customers. It can imply distrust. In addition, businesses with a lot of positive reviews also have to deal with a lot of something else, high expectations. Because of high expectations, this can easily turn into high returns.

4. Add a decoy. This strategy builds on the principle of anchoring. Anchoring is the psychological principle that the first thing the customer sees sets their expectation. A decoy takes to the next level.

With a decoy, a business presents the customer with something that is of slightly lower value or higher priced (your decoy) than the item you want them to buy. When a customer is presented with another option (the product you want them to buy), they are given an option with more value for their buck.

5. Check your details.  A lot of business owners believe that obsessing over details like font and color are distractions to the real business of marketing. In fact, these tiny details play a very important role in how your marketing is received. Marketing and psychological research has shown that the color scheme of your logo impacts how your business is perceived. The font used in a menu or a website also has an impact.

While you can go overboard worrying over details like color and font, you shouldn’t neglect these details either. It is especially important when you are looking to change or update your branding.

Here are some articles that might provide some insight:

The Elephant in the Room: Is Neuromarketing Ethical?

A big question that you might have about neuromarketing, especially the brain scanning and eye tracking, is: “Is it ethical?” Is it ethical for a marketer to get information from a customer before they are willing to share it? An example of this situation is the Implicit Association Test or IAT. The IAT measures a person’s unconscious associations between words.

For example, let’s say that a customer says they don’t like a certain ad because it prevents an unpopular view. The IAT reveals that they hold beliefs that agree with this unpopular view. Is this an invasion of this customer’s privacy?

The answer isn’t totally clear. As we continue through this century, more technology will develop and evolve, forcing us to reconsider the balance between good data and customer privacy. Ryan Dooley tackled this topic in the Twitter chat. His point? It’s not the technology that’s threatening our privacy, it’s our values while using that technology.

Where Can I Get More Information on Neuromarketing?

Let’s say that you are, at least, intrigued by the potential of neuromarketing. Where can you get more information? Here are some books, a blog, and a podcast that might help;

Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing by Roger Dooley

Neuromarketing: Understanding the Buy Buttons in Your Customer’s Brain by Patrick Renvoise and Christophe Morin

Neuromarketing for Dummies by Stephen J. Genco, Andrew P. Pohlmann, and Peter Steidl

The Buying Brain: Secrets for Selling to the Subconscious Mind by K. Pradeep

Neuromarketing podcast hosted by Roger Dooley

Neuromarketing blog created by Roger Dooley

Image Credit:

Elephant in the Room: By Bit Boy (Flickr: The Elephant in the Room) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons