SXSW 2018: Knowing what makes people tick can get them to click

People are humans, and humans are unique and complex. It seems obvious, but it’s something marketers and businesses sometimes forget. There are many ways to slice and dice people into groups to target, but the closer you get to understanding what a unique individual likes, wants and feels, the closer you’ll get to motivating them to action. The challenge, as always, is how to do that at scale.

Brian Cugelman, a neuroscientist presenting at 2018 SXSW Interactive Conference, has developed a framework called SPEAR. Think Myers-Briggs, but reimagined using brain science. Using his framework he talked through how to design marketing materials for people based on their personality test results. Someone he classifies as an “Empat” would like community- or social-oriented communications. Basically, he boils it down to understanding what kinds of things were attractive, or repulsive, to different personalities.


Even something as seemingly benign as an image of flower seed heads can cause some people to recoil. If this picture makes you uncomfortable in some way you may be trypophobic. Apparently, a good number of people are. If you’d prefer your marketing campaign not trigger a negative emotional reaction try and avoid using a similar visual.


People today are spending just 1.7 seconds with any piece of online content. Not even two whole seconds on something it took weeks and potentially thousands and thousands of dollars for a brand to create. To help make sure their messages reach the right audience marketers are utilizing personalized marketing solutions to push past that 1.7 second average.

Understanding what factors cause a customer to recognize a need and targeting customers at that moment is something car manufacturers have to consider in all of their marketing efforts. They know there is a seven-year lifecycle associated with typical car purchases. But that doesn’t mean that they can stop marketing to someone who has just purchased a new vehicle. Quite the opposite. They’ve become adept at using their website data and the information a customer has actively consumed to help locate a visitor’s location in the customer journey. Look at certain pages on the site and they can ascertain that you’re a budget-conscious consumer and serve up content that you will relate to. Look at another, they know that you’re dreaming of that fancy sports car and can usually figure out if you’re serious about making a purchase.

It’s not about creating excessive amounts of content because you believe that’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s about being knowing who your audiences are, knowing where they are in the product lifecycle, and serving the right content at the right time for them.

Everyone is human and wants to be treated as such. Acknowledge it and embrace it, flaws and phobias included.

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