Marketing vs. Mind Control

Note: This post was archived from the Infusionsoft Blog. More details here.

In this month’s edition of CRM Magazine, Lior Arussy wrote a great article entitled Neuromarketing Isn’t Marketing. Although I appreciate Lior taking a stand against Neuromarketing, I wholeheartedly disagree.

Lior describes neuromarkeing as “the use of a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine to scan a consumer’s brain, recording responses to certain stimuli.”  Based on these responses, “marketers then draw conclusions about how to sell to customers more effectively.”

Don’t let the big words confuse you. It’s pretty basic, really. Scientific marketers are using science (functional MRI in this case) to figure out what people respond to.  Lior has the opinion that neuromarketing is unethical and immoral.  Yikes!  How’s it different than the other ways we test?

So, let me ask…

Does split testing subject lines fall into the same category?

What about eye tracking to determine what part of a web page people are drawn too?

How about user-testing a new website or interface?

Counting clicks on links?

The beauty of the Web is that it has given marketers a way to make marketing scientific. Now, we can literally track, measure, and tweak based on concrete evidence. We use input from prospects and customers to determine which marketing messages, which colors and which layouts work most effectively. Using FMRI and other more advanced scientific methods only adds to our knowledge of what works.

The key is, none of this knowledge gives us any control over the prospect’s mind. I suspect that’s what Lior is concerned about, that we take away the free agency of the prospect by knowing how their mind works.  That’s not the case at all. Just because we can more effectively create a message that might be extremely compelling, doesn’t mean we’re forcing anybody to do anything. Prospects still have the liberty to choose to respond to the message or not.

Lior says, “It’s time to get back to honest, high-quality, high-value experiences.”  I would contend that knowing more about what people respond to helps us to create a more tailored and more valuable consumer experiences than anything else.

Testing & tweaking to improve marketing is not “brain manipulation”, as Lior calls it.  Its good marketing.  By effectively matching your message to your prospects needs, you’re helping the prospect make a decision that will benefit him – you’re not controlling his mind.

What are your thoughts? Where should marketers draw the line? How far should we push science to improve marketing?

[Image credits: Andy Carlson on Flickr; DestinationCRM]

About Tyler Garns

Tyler Garns is best known for his work as the Director and VP of Marketing at Infusionsoft, where he led the marketing efforts that produced massive results between 2007 and 2012. But he’s also been the “go-to” Infusionsoft guy for many of the top marketers and Infusionsoft users out there. His combination of technical skill, Infusionsoft expertise, and marketing experience make him one of the most reliable sources of business breakthroughs for Infusionsoft customers.

4 thoughts on “Marketing vs. Mind Control”

  1. Very Interesting posting and article. Thank you Tyler. I have been working in this field of study for, well let’s just say, it has been a very long time. This study has covered a wide range of disciplines. I am trained in NLP, Hypnosis, Accelerated Learning, Psychology, Marketing, Sales, etc….

    The basis of NLP, Hypnosis, Marketing, Sales, to illicit Buying Strategies and even Psychology…. have at it’s core… the aspect of developing “Trust”.

    The use of the “Trust” that has been developed, is really the issue. This “Trust” can be used covertly or overtly… for the long term good of the relationship, or the short term gain of one party or the other….

    Whenever I train people with the use of these techniques, I tell them that “These powers can be used for good or evil”. Well, perhaps a bit of over dramatization, but the fact still stands. It can be used for mutual gain or for the gain of only one party. I stress that Business, Marketing & Sales must be built on Win/Win….

    These strategies and techniques, can and do work. Now for the KEY… or maybe I should use the word…. “SECRET KEY”…. When you build a long term relationship… based on “Trust”…. Then you can calculate the “Life Long Value” of your customers.

    You can use these techniques, to generate an immediate sale….. but in my studies related to this phenomenon, I have found by using these techniques, you can increase the initial purchase rate by over 85%….

    However, the re-sale percentage for these customers, drops off to less than 5%.

    When you use these techniques, to develop “Trust” and to develop a long term relationship… your initial Sale Percentage….. is not very significant….. My personal experience has been that using these strategies and techniques have only shown a 10% initial “Closing Rate”….

    However, “Re-Sale” increased by a factor of 3 and the “Referral” rate increased by 1.5.

    Now factor in the “Life Long Value” of a customer…. And there is a very strong case for “Developing Relationships”…. Hence CRM…..

    Over 20 years ago, I was asked by the National Sales Manager for one of the Divisions of 3M, to work with a very promising Sales Person, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He started out selling very well, but after a year he was having trouble making his sales targets…..

    Management thought that there must be some technical problems with the product, so they asked me to work with this person to see what “Technical Solution”, we could find.

    Now, I had worked with him in the past and we were good friends….

    I spent two days with him working the field. He was doing everything right… but I sensed a lot of tension, when customer after customer he asked for his order….. they were not letting him write orders….

    I then spoke with the National Sales Manager and suggested that we take Jim’s Order Book away from him…. And for the next several months…. Jim was not allowed to ask for any orders…. He was to just call into all his accounts and ask them… How can help?.. Even if it meant taking out the trash….

    In 2 months… Jim quadrupled his sales and he “NEVER asked for an order”…

    He “Built Relationships”…. This was long before we every heard the term “Customer Relationship Management (Marketing)”

    So… “Mind Control”…. YES… as long is it used ethically to build a bridge for “Two Way Long Term Relationships”….

    Thanks again Tyler…. Great posting…

    Kevin Barrett

  2. I agree that using actual science around marketing theory is acceptable. Marketing used to always be a guessing game (and for the most part, it still is), but we’ve reached a point where data can be used reliably to determine prospect and customer needs.


  3. There is no magic wand.I have 40 years of direct selling training and business building under my belt. I was glad in 1974 to find Robert Ringers book “looking out for number one” It was a deceptive book for the message it preached was not what it said.I learned to identified the types of people you not to go in business with.HE was right on every count.He saved me from a lot of grief with all the crap being taught in sales courses.Getting into the mind of people.One Sales Trainer” Said as you sit across from you prospect you keep saying in your mind.He is going to buy ,yes he is.The only problem was the guy your trying to sell to.Has the same idea.”I am not going to buy” Robert Ringer put it to the kiss method.It was not that I could not sell.But there where all sorts of reasons for client not to buy now.He taught me “THE POWER OF A POSITIVE ATTITUDE” not the “POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING” Having the power of a positive attitude simply not crap is going to get you down.The power of positive thinking if your not careful makes you victim not a victor.NO ONE IS ALWAYS IN THE POSITIVE THINKING MOOD THERE IS TO MUCH CRAP WHICH RAINS ON US.But at this when it happens if you have a positive attitude you know this will pass also.Positive thinkers usually get ulcers from trying to figure it out why things went wrong.Me I take it in my stride living a positive affirmation of my faith things will change.I wold rather look for a hungry crowd sell what people want. Not having to do an uphill battle to close a reluctant buyer.The old adage A MAN PERSUADED AGAINST HIS WILL IS OF THE SAME OPINION. THERE IS NO MAGIC WAND OR SECRET CODE BUTTON YOU CAN PUSH.Other than pointing a gun to his head”ARE YOU GOING TO BUY OR NOT” Yeh hell buy alright but next thing the cops come along inviting you to have stay for free room and board.

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