Marketers: start exercising your whole brain.
Good marketing decisions are the result of intuition/feeling and reason. Think about the last time you were trying to make a complex business decision, like how to most effectively communicate your brand or even how to allocate your marketing dollars. You probably began with fact-finding. And you evaluated those facts carefully. But you probably didn’t make a decision to do something until it “felt” right. And sometimes you probably got lost in the facts and didn’t make a decision at all.
Feelings and intuition are important and most marketers know this in their bones. Yet, marketers and researchers tell us all the time that it is almost impossible to get people to talk about how they are feeling and how those feelings impact their behavior. More important, they tell us that emotions are an anathema in their organizations. One of our clients, a financial services organization, hired us on the basis of our ability to obtain emotional insights, and then told us that we couldn’t use the word “emotion” at meetings because the organization fundamentally believed that financial decision-making should be a totally rational process. A CPG client told us that they knew they needed emotional insights, but didn’t know how to do that systematically in their organization. A health care organization said, “if a recommendation can’t be presented with a spreadsheet, backed by numbers, our executives ignore it.”
If these barriers to decision-making exist in your organization, here are two simple ideas to help you get others to both recognize the value of the right brain thinking and start accessing the right brain more consistently and deliberately.
- Exercise your right brain more often. Our left brains are an over-used, bulked-up, dominant muscle. At all levels of education, from 1st grade through graduate school, we have relied on our left/logical/analytical brains. We are good at and comfortable analysis. All that left-brain work has made us suspicious of our right/intuitive brain. But it’s never too late to start learning about the vital role emotions, intuition and creativity play in decision-making. Perhaps that could become the basis of a training program at your company. Perhaps some of your insights people could become advocates. Or make yourself an expert and an advocate on the subject. The first book to read is A Whole New Mind, by the brilliant Daniel Pink. If you want on-going information and education, in small bites, sign up for our newsletter, “The Heartbeat of the Brand” at www.drumcirclec0.com.
- Use simple tools and exercises to help people access their right brains. Using images and metaphor are a proven mechanism for accessing the right brain and giving people language that helps us them articulate their feelings and intuition on any given subject. Pictures help you cut to the chase on any given topic or question – quickly and easily. To see for yourself, experiment with using pictures more in focus groups first. For example, if you are testing advertising, ask people to pick from a picture pack the image that represents how the particular concept or idea makes them feel. Have them describe why they chose the picture, the feeling it elicits, and how it connects to the advertising. What people say will provide you with amazingly deep insights into the advertising and how it works.
- You can try the same process in an internal meeting when a group of people are debating a complex issue that has no easy answer. Once all the arguments are out on the table, bring out a pack of pictures and ask people to pick the picture that represents how they feel, bottom line, on the particular topic or decision to be made. You’ll be surprised and delighted how the process will help you make the final decision while creating good feelings amongst the meeting participants.
If you’d like a free pack of pictures to experiment with, please let me know at email@example.com and we’ll send you our ConnectDeck ™, a validated set of pictures we routinely use in our research projects.