One of the post-speech questions I’m often asked is whether employing my neuromarketing strategies is “manipulative” and/or unethical. This weekend’s Dilbert strip by Scott Adams highlights the divide between manipulation and customer focus:
I’m intrigued by the reaction that has unfolded around the Facebook “emotion contagion” study. (If you aren’t familiar with this, read this primer.) As others have pointed out, the practice of A/B testing content is quite common. And Facebook has a long history of experimenting on how it can influence people’s attitudes and practices, even in the realm of research. An earlier study showed that Facebook decisions could shape voters’ practices. But why is it that *this* study has sparked a firestorm?
When salespeople hope to close a deal, they may try doing favors for the client. In fact, scientists who study human behavior know that the opposite strategy can work: if you can get someone to do YOU a small favor, they are much more likely to grant a bigger one. This has been shown to work in many situations, including one experiment in which people agreed to have a large yard sign installed after first accepting a small window decal. A favor as simple as answering a request for the time of day can lead to granting more complex favors.
The poll I ran earlier this week in Is Your Brand Evil produced results that, in retrospect, were predictable. Fully half the respondents thought that branding could be used in either good or bad ways. Of the other half, my neuromarketing-oriented readers came down four-to-one on the “good” side of branding.
Book Review: Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy by Martin Lindstrom
Like a surgeon exposing the nasty underbelly of medical malpractice, Martin Lindstrom, branding expert and author of the neuromarketing book Buyology, takes a decidedly consumerist point of view in showing how brands influence and sometimes even control our lives.