Preface and Overview of the Book
What is emotional boosting? Emotional boosting is marketing from the brain's viewpoint. But how does marketing from the brain's viewpoint differ from the idea of classic marketing? Classic marketing is based on a conscious and rational customer, who politely tells us his wishes, which we then translate into action. But there is one problem with this approach: Brain research shows us in an impressive manner that the conscious and rational customer is an illusion. First of all, purchase decisions take place for the most part unconsciously, and second of all, they are always emotional. It is only through emotions that the world gets its value and meaning. Therefore marketing from the brain's viewpoint means not waiting until the customer expresses his or her wishes, but instead proactively doing everything possible to activate the countless little purchase buttons in the customer's brain. If value only develops through emotions, and the activation thereof takes place unconsciously for the most part, this inevitably means that you increase the value of a product, a brand or a service by intensifying the emotions connected to it or the emotions it triggers, called boosting.
An advertiser would respond with: „I've always known that.“ And he thinks of his advertising campaign, in which a couple in love looks wistfully into each others' eyes and enjoys a pizza, an espresso or something else. But emotionalization is not that simple. For it to be successful, we have to be clear that there is not just one single large purchase button in the customer's brain, but instead that every product and every service process are comprised of many little points of contact. Emotional boosting therefore means looking at every detail from the viewpoint of the customer's brain and boosting it emotionally. But for that to be successful, you have to know what emotion systems there are in the brain and how they interact. With Limbic®, at Gruppe Nymphenburg Consult AG we have developed one of the most well-founded and best approaches to understanding the emotion and motive systems for marketing in the world today. You can find out more about Gruppe Nymphenburg Consult AG in the appendix. In this book, Limbic® will serve as a system for navigation and orientation. So let us begin our exciting expedition into the customer's emotional brain.
A Brief Overview of the Book's Structure
This book is to be used for practical purposes, and therefore the focus is on the practical and less on the theoretical. A tradesman who works with his hands, who is completely oriented towards the practice side of things, needs a toolbox full of the best tools, and he has to know how these tools work. So if we want to press the emotional purchase buttons in the customer's brain, we must know about the emotion systems in the brain and their functions. After we have familiarized ourselves with the idea of emotional boosting in the first chapter, we will get more closely involved with the Limbic® approach in the second chapter. The topic of the third chapter, „Product Boosting,“ is the motive structure of products and brands. We will learn how to recognize unconscious motives and how to address them in a targeted manner. People are also beings who search for meaning. More than 99% of all people believe in a higher power. The search for meaning and the attempt to find footing nowadays no longer takes place only in religious communities, but in products and brands as well. This is why we will also deal with how to intensify and utilize the emotional structure of the meaning of products and brands. While we boost the inner emotional substance of a product in the third chapter, in the fourth chapter, „Presentational Boosting,“ we will find out how to emotionalize the staging of a product with various small tricks. During the fifth chapter, „Retail Boosting,“ we will think about the opportunities emotional boosting offers for the retail sector. „Service Boosting,“ Chapter 6, provides the opportunity to explore the emotional side of the service sector. In the seventh chapter, „Sales Boosting,“ we will find out how an emotional boosting strategy directed at a target group can be implemented in the financial sector. In Chapter 8, „B2B Boosting,“ we will learn via the example of a machine factory that the apparently rational B2B world also offers many opportunities and approaches for emotional boosting. In the final chapter, „Culture & Brand Boosting,“ we will combine everything we have learned, think about strategic brand management and take a look at the emotion signal most important for the human brain: The human face, and thus the role played by employees. Perhaps you may ask why this book does not deal with advertising as a strategy for emotionalization. The answer is simply that it would go beyond the scope of this book, and, at the same time, there are already good books on advertising and brain research. Two further important areas in the communication strategy of a company cannot be dealt with here: event and online marketing. That being said, marketing and sales professionals will still find this book to be an invaluable resource with useful and exciting tips.
Manipulation and Seduction?
I am often asked whether all of my ideas and considerations are not purely manipulation and seduction. I want to give you a clear answer to this question: Yes, they are! But seduction and manipulation are inseparable from human existence. Every woman who puts on make-up in the morning and shows her feminine shape via suitable apparel is manipulating. Every man who demonstrates his prosperity with an expensive watch and sends flowers to the woman he adores is manipulating. Every minister who holds a church service is manipulating. And every journalist who writes an article is also manipulating. But unlike these examples, I will reveal my tricks, and by knowing these „tricks of the trade“ you can also partly protect yourself against them. Why only partly? Because in everyday life's hectic pace you don't have time to be concerned with the multitude of little purchase seducers that lie in wait for you.
I. Emotions: How they work and what defines them
1 No emotions – no money
1.1 Why only emotions create value and values
What is in store for you in this chapter:
Alchemists have always dreamed of turning water into gold. Something that was impossible back then is now practically a reality. By means of emotional boosting, the value of water is increased by a factor of 75,000 for example. Someone who wants to be successful in sales and marketing must say good-bye to the image of the conscious and rational customer. Instead, he must systematically press the countless purchase buttons in the unconscious of the customer's brain.
Would you, dear reader, pay a thousand times more for a product than it is actually worth? „Never,“ you would say. Just the idea that you could act so unreasonably is almost insulting. Ultimately we perceive ourselves as people who act in a rational and conscious manner, or in this specific case: consumers. We believe we make our decisions consciously and intelligently. Pay more than a product is worth? Never! But let's take a look at the world of everyday consumption for a shocking example. Certainly the most commonplace product one can think of is water. If you live, as I do, south of Munich, you are fortunate that your tap water comes directly from the Bavarian Alps. 0.75 liters of this good quality water costs 12/100 of one cent including wastewater charges. Now go to the supermarket and buy a 0.75-liter bottle of a brand-name water. You pay about 80 cents for it after deducting the deposit for the glass or plastic bottle. The bottled water, food chemists assure us, is not better and not healthier than the water coming out of my tap. So for this regular, brand-name water you have already paid 650 times as much as it is worth. Why? Because obviously a brand label was sufficient to open the wallet in your brain. But we have not yet reached the end of our journey. Now you go out for a nice dinner in the evening and, with your wine, you order a bottle of San Pellegrino or Perrier. On the bill you find the price for this water is 7 Euros. Now calculating it based on our starting point of 12/100 of a cent, this is an increase of a factor of 6,000! Why did you pay that? On the one hand, because it was a premium brand. On the other hand, because the water was served in an elegant environment by a distinguished waiter. You are probably stunned – but our journey with the water has yet to come to an end. After dinner you and your dining partner go to a club that is an absolute hotspot. Everything is very stylish here and the financial elite of your city meet regularly at this club. You order water here as well. The bartender asks whether you would prefer Bling Gold or Voss water. You aren't familiar with either one. The bartender says that Bling Gold is selling like hotcakes and is totally „in“ and so you order a bottle. The bartender brings the bottle to the table and removes the metal cap, in the same manner as with a bottle of wine, and then he opens it with a corkscrew. He pours you a glass and then leaves you with the bottle. You are astonished. The frosted glass feels delicate and precious and the label is made of Swarovski crystals (see Figure 1). You drink the water in awe. But to be honest, you do not notice a difference compared to regular water. The only thing you notice are the curious looks coming from the people at the next table.
Figure 1. How to turn water into gold: Bling H2O (reference/photo:M.Strachwitz)
But the difference on the bill, which soon follows, is dramatic compared to your tap water: 90 (ninety!) Euros. That is an increase in value of 75,000, although you don't taste a difference at all! You are speechless. How could something like that happen to you, the consciously acting consumer? Already your willingness to pay 650 times the value for the supermarket brand-name water caused you to pause. And now this fiasco of logical reasoning. Even the bartender's comment that Paris Hilton's dogs drink this water every day brings little comfort. But now we are interested in a different question. How are the American makers of Bling able to turn water into gold? Using emotional boosting. In the course of chapters 3 and 4 we will look at Bling more than once and will become familiar with the many small details of its emotional increase in value.
1.1.1 How a taxi driver makes his customers happy
Let's depart this glamorous world and return to everyday life. A few weeks ago I called a taxi to take me to the airport. The taxi, a very well cared for Mercedes, was punctual. The driver of Persian origin stowed my luggage and opened the rear door for me. I got in and sat down. Next to me, on the back seat, I found an up-to-date newspaper and several magazines, plus an opened tin of hard candy on the center console. Because I am a somewhat taller person, the space in the rear is somewhat cramped when the front seat is in its regular position. I had barely gotten into the car when the driver immediately moved the seat forward, a procedure which only takes place in most taxis when specifically requested.
The driver turned around and said, „The newspapers are there for you. Help yourself to the candy, and have a nice start to your day.“ After a brief pause he asked, „Would you like to hear music? Pop, classical or folk music? Or would you prefer peace and quiet?“ When you are treated in such a friendly manner, of course it is easy to start up a conversation and I asked him (in the midst of the recession) how business was. He answered, „I am very satisfied and I am constantly booked.“ I had asked a different taxi driver the same question several days earlier. His answer? „Crummy.“ But back to our driver. I asked him why he was so satisfied with his business. His answer was, „I get the same amount of money per kilometer as my colleagues, but I have a lot more personal reservations for my services. I have a great deal of regular customers and they often use my services to drive to the far-away airport. I am at full capacity, and many of my colleagues are not.“ What is the reason for our taxi driver's success? Emotional boosting. In Chapter 7, Sales Boosting, we will deal with the topic of service.
When compared to our water example, an important insight becomes clear: While the price of the water multiplied by means of emotional boosting, the taxi driver's price remained the same. What did increase, however, was the number of customers and the customer loyalty. Both examples have one more thing in common, and that is that the money is rolling in!
1.1.2 Don't negotiate with the government spokesperson, but instead with the government itself
Perhaps you are asking yourself what is really behind this new term „emotional boosting“? Very briefly: Emotional boosting is marketing and sales from the brain's point of view. But what makes it different from conventional marketing? What differentiates emotional boosting from „customer orientation“? While classic marketing including customer orientation is based on a conscious and rational customer, whom one asks what he or she wants, emotional boosting follows a completely different path altogether. Because purchase decisions are made to a great extent unconsciously, based on emotional programming in the customer's brain, it is the goal of emotional boosting to very consistently press the thousand small purchase buttons in the customer's unconscious. Emotional boosting departs from the conscious and rational customer, and utilizes the findings of modern brain research. Namely, the customer generally has no idea why he or she decides the way they do, even if he or she believes they do. Brain research calls this illusion „user illusion.“ Or freely adapted from American neuro-philosopher Daniel Dennett: „The consciousness of a customer (in Dennett's words: „people“) is like a government spokesman who has to announce decisions he or she a) did not participate in and b) whose true decision-making reasons are also not accessible to him or her.“ So someone who wants to be successful does not approach the government spokesman, but instead the government itself. And who is the government? The emotion systems in the customer's brain!
Now critics could say, „But that's nothing new – creating value through emotion. Every advertiser has that hammered home during his or her first year of education.“ Whereas an advertiser understands emotionalization as showing a couple in a TV commercial lovingly gazing into each other's eyes while enjoying yogurt, or his or her colleague who organizes events, who, when asked to get more emotion in the room, gets the bass thumping and pushes the disco lights as far as they can go, we will discover that this form of emotionalization certainly is justified and can work. But emotional boosting goes much, much farther and deeper. And with that we have already reached the first principle of emotional boosting.
1.1.3 Principle No. 1: Emotional boosting is a strategic and practical approach
Especially creative professionals believe that emotionalization must always be associated with a ‚wow’ effect. Admittedly,‚ wow’ effects, which a lot of people talk about in the short-term, can certainly be successful. But they have one problem: They are usually random and they do not last! What we will discover on our journey together is that the real emotionalization of a company, a service and a product goes much, much farther than a creative advertising campaign. Emotional boosting is not just the job of creative professionals or the marketing department – it is the entire company's job. It is not about having a clever idea, but instead consistently viewing and emotionally optimizing all of the customer contact points from the point of view of the (emotional) customer's brain. But for this operation to work, you need instruments – you have to know how the customer's emotional brain works. You have to know what emotion systems there are in the customer's brain, and how purchase decisions are really made. According to many experts, with the Limbic® approach, Gruppe Nymphenburg Consult AG has developed the best and most scientifically substantiated emotion model for marketing and sales at present. This book shows how you can consistently implement this fascinating model and knowledge. We will discuss the basics of how to do this in the next chapter.
Why, you ask, are emotions so important in purchase decisions? We've already gotten a first small impression from our mineral water and taxi examples. But an impression is not an insight. What we need now is a small insight into the customer's brain and the power of emotion. And with that we have reached the second important principle of emotional boosting.
1.1.4 Principle No. 2: Only emotions give the world value and meaning
You can also express this principle another way: Brands, products and services that don't trigger any emotions are worthless for the brain. No product has any value in itself. Value only develops in the consciousness of the customer. But in order to understand how this assessment takes place, we have to briefly get involved with the processes and structures in the customer's brain. First, as shown by Figure 2, we can roughly divide the brain into three zones.
Figure 2. The structure of the brain
At the very bottom you find the so-called brain stem, which is very old from an evolutionary viewpoint. On top of it are the diencephalon (interbrain) and finally the telencephalon (endbrain), whose most important component is the neocortex. This area of the brain is the youngest from an evolutionary viewpoint, and also the largest part of the brain. A very important brain structure, which is counted in part as belonging to the interbrain, in part to the endbrain, is the so-called limbic system (see Figure 3). Finally, on the back side of the brain we find the cerebellum.
The limbic system is a collective term for brain structures that are significantly involved in processing emotions, so the limbic system is not a functional unit in the brain. There are brain researchers who reject the term for exactly this reason. But terms help to organize and simplify the world. Based on the same logic, one should also not talk about „Mediterranean countries,“ because they are also located on different continents and have different cultural and religious backgrounds, etc. But something the Mediterranean countries have in common is that they are located on the Mediterranean, although they have many more additional characteristics. It is exactly the same with the different brain areas which are included in the limbic system. They are all involved in processing emotions, but also have further additional functions. Progress in brain research has also expanded our knowledge of the extent of the limbic system, because it was determined that larger areas of the prefrontal cortex are also very involved with the processing of emotions. This insight forced a radical re-thinking.
Figure 3. The limbic system: The limbic system is a collective term for the brain structures that significantly participate in processing emotions
1.1.5 The emotional reversal: The little revolution in brain research
Up until the mid-90s there was widespread agreement in brain research regarding what function these larger areas of the brain had. Figure 4 illustrates this old viewpoint. The cerebral cortex, specifically the neocortex, was considered the seat of comprehension and of reason. The limbic system lying beneath it was assigned the emotions and the brain stem down at the very bottom as being the home of the baser instincts: sex and sports.
These areas of the brain, according to the assumption, sat on top of one another like an onion skin and because they were barely connected, they were said to work relatively independently of one another. The neocortex was of particular importance in this model. It was assumed that it was the actual center of power in the human head, which made decisions consciously, reasonably, computer-like and rationally. But then, by examining patients with brain injuries, it was recognized that emotions were definitely not disrupting the decision-making process. Instead, the opposite was true: Without emotions, no good decisions were made at all! Patients whose emotion centers were malfunctioning were, for example, incapable of making the right decisions in card games which resulted in winning or losing money.
Figure 4. The old thinking in brain research
Today we know that ultimately our entire brain is more or less emotional. The frontal areas of the brain more so, the parietal cortex and the cerebellum to a lesser extent. This insight is also corroborated by a glance at the chemical messengers and hormones that decisively contribute to the structures of our emotion systems. Their paths begin in the brain stem and run through the interbrain and the limbic system, but they don't end there. Instead they run through the entire neocortex, and there they influence the way we think. The strongest concentration, however, is found in the limbic system. The old division into three is therefore a thing of the past. The reasonable neocortex thus also makes an important contribution to the processing of emotions. Especially the prefrontal cortex plays the role of an (emotional) computing center, which calculates ways and probabilities of how the customer and consumer can receive a maximum of what they desire with a minimum of effort, for example in the form of time, money or work. To do this, the incoming signals that are evaluated by the limbic system are compared with greatly differing emotional experiences and images retrieved from the so-called episodic or autobiographical memory. This then results in a plan of action, which is translated into specific actions by the center section of the neocortex and the subjacent basal ganglia. In the parietal and temporal cortexes object recognition and the spatial coordination of movement take place. Figure 5 shows us this structure in a simplified manner.
Figure 5. The new thinking in brain research
When I was one of the first people to propagate the predominance of emotions based on my own research activities more than 10 years ago, I was met with a weary smile. My book proposal, „Think Limbic!“, was returned to me by several publishers with the comment that this was not a topic and was not scientifically state-of-the-art. The world has since made an about-face: Now even in the seemingly rational field of philosophy there are many professorships which deal with the philosophy of emotions. In the meantime, modern philosophers have also recognized that emotions are highly rational, namely that they ensure our survival. The realization of the preeminence of emotions is nothing new. David Hume, Baruch Spinoza, Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche were already staunch supporters of this idea. The problem was that back then it could not be scientifically proven. Today scientific proof has been provided by brain research. But what exactly are emotions? What effect do they have, how do they work? We will deal with this question in the next chapter. But for now, the following basic insight is enough for us: No emotions – no money.
Money is concentrated desire in your pants pocket
The stronger the (positive) emotions are that are conveyed by a product, a service and/or a brand and the more negative emotions are avoided, the more valuable the product, brand or service is to the brain and the more the consumer is willing to spend money on it. Incidentally, even something as seemingly rational as money cannot elude this emotional neuro-logic. You just have to ask yourself, why is money so attractive to us? Very simply, because we can fulfill almost all of our wishes with money. We can go on vacation, buy a new car or even improve on our retirement planning. But all of these wishes and motives are highly emotional. Money is a generalized symbol of value. Or to put it somewhat more bluntly, money is concentrated desire in our pants pocket, associated with an option for the future. When I have money, my possibilities for the future expand. Money is a universal joker to satisfy our wishes. The brain's calculation follows a simple logic: The generalized emotional value of money is calculated against the specific emotional value of the offer. If what is being offered only radiates weak emotions, the valuable money remains in our wallet. If the offer simultaneously activates many of the emotion systems in the brain, the value of the product increases for the consumer – he or she is willing to spend money on it. The effect of money can be optimally viewed in a brain scanner. If we win money or see an attractive product, then the pleasure center in the reward center, the nucleus accumbens, lights up brightly. If we lose money or show the brain what the attractive product costs, the insula in the brain becomes active. It is also active when we have a toothache. For our brain, separating ourselves from money is an extremely painful and undesirable process. This separation only takes place when many emotions are placed on the other end of the scale as compensation.
1.1.6 Principle No. 3: The emotional evaluation takes place in the customer's brain extensively unconsciously
When we buy a car or a new pair of pants and choose between different alternatives, we constantly have the feeling of consciously deciding. But before something even makes it into a customer's consciousness, every product already has a long, unconscious evaluation process by the emotion systems behind it. How this emotional evaluation takes place in detail is something we will find out in the next chapter. We and the customer – like the government spokesperson previously mentioned – are informed of the result of this unconscious process. Trade publications and popular publications come to different conclusions about the share of the unconscious in the decision. My American neuromarketing colleague Gerald Zaltman estimates about 95%. I myself assume it is 70 to 80%. But who is right? This issue cannot be resolved, both numbers are ultimately speculation. To date, there is no definition and no explanation of what consciousness even is. But how can you quantify something if you don't quite exactly know what it is? There is, however, agreement nowadays in philosophy, brain research and psychology in this area: The unconscious determines the consciousness and not vice-versa. Incidentally, this insight is also not a new one. Leibniz's monad teachings in the early 18th century, and also Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, with Freud then building on that, already propagated the preeminence of the unconscious. But through the discovery of the computer, and increased humanistic perspectives, etc. one believed in conscious reason, or rather, one hoped it existed. Like with emotions, we are, however, also currently experiencing a return of the unconscious to the scientific world. Yet the reluctance of cognitively-oriented psychologists and neuroscientists is still perceptible. They avoid the word „unconscious“ and prefer to use the terms „explicit“ (=conscious) or „implicit“ (=unconscious) processing. That sounds somewhat more technical and modern, but it means the same thing. Does that now mean that our explicit system or consciousness is rational and our unconscious implicit system is emotional? No. Conscious processes take place intensively in the prefrontal cortex. As mentioned previously, the neocortex is also nothing but an emotional computer for the optimization of emotions. Here you will argue: But these processes take place consciously in part. That is correct. The problem is that there is an emotional design principle behind these conscious processing procedures which is not accessible to the conscious (see the example of the government spokesperson we talked about). What our consciousness processes and optimizes is predetermined by the unconscious. What are the consequences of this realization for us? The answer is clear: If only emotions provide value, and this evaluation takes place extensively unconsciously for the customer, and the customer also has very little insight into the evaluation processes, then it makes sense, based on the evaluation mechanisms and the emotion systems in the customer's brain, to analyze products and services down to the smallest detail and to ask: Where and how can I increase the positive emotions at all these points of contact and, just as importantly, minimize the negative ones? Naturally this leads us to our fourth principle:
1.1.7 Principle No. 4: Don't wait for miracles – consistently work on the details
In many marketing books it is propagated that the innovator who launches a completely new product onto the market will victoriously climb the stairs of market leadership and win the golden trophy. Without a doubt, a great deal of money can be made with revolutionary ideas. However, one can also fail dramatically. The marketing cemetery is filled with revolutionary products and ideas that came at the wrong time or were not understood, etc. The few courageous ones whose innovations fortunately survived on the market are rightly hailed as heroes in management books. On the other hand, the not so fortunate market revolutionaries, and there are ten times more of them than there are heroes, lie in the ...