Chris is the CEO at Lean Labs. He enjoys strategizing and creating content that drives results. When not typing away, Chris is exploring nature with his two daughters, wife, and dogs.
All marketing boils down to connections. You connect with a customer. They connect with your product.
The hard part is establishing those connections from an emotional base, specifically when everyone has different needs, desires, and preferences.
With cognitive marketing, you can streamline your path to positive connections, and provide value to customers better than ever.
Defining Cognitive Marketing and a Plan of Action
Cognitive marketing is all about building connections by using the context behind why customers are making decisions. It increases brand loyalty and positively influences buyer behavior.
For example, a makeup company could focus on the quality of their products or the range of colors they provide. These are common practices for reaching a broader audience.
If they were to focus on cognitive marketing, they'd be identifying why their customers actually purchase makeup. They'd be finding the insecurities about their appearance and discovering ways to demonstrate they can solve that problem. The result speaks to a smaller segment of their audience but engages that group far better than eighty shades of lipstick ever could.
Cognitive marketing isn't a cheap tactic to pull more sales. It's a way of developing your brand and earning lifelong customers because of the value you provide. And to do that, you'll need to focus on these four tenants of cognitive marketing.
1. Focus on the Customer
Before you go any further into the realm of cognitive marketing, you need to ensure you've covered the basics. This means being customer-centric.
If you're not entirely focused on ensuring they're getting the most value from your product and brand, you're not maximizing your current potential. Once that's straight, you can work cognitive marketing into your strategy to take it further.
International Data Corporation (IDC) Research Manager, Gerry Murray, once asked, “Philosophically, what do we do as marketers? Do we just sell stuff, or can we improve people’s lives?”
This sentiment is at the core of cognitive marketing and is what allows you to humanize your brand.
To do this, it's vital that you know what drives your customer. What bothers them? What's the true reason they're coming to you for a solution?
This requires thorough profiles be created on as many types of customers as you're targeting. From there, you'll start segmenting into as specific a grouping as you can go, but we'll talk more on that later.
The best tactic for showing you're customer-centric and care about the customer is to make communications personal. Through social media, engage with purpose. Show them you care about their problems. Don't just pitch your sale.
In emails, create specific copy for each segment. Don't get lazy and throw out blanket messages. Your customer wants to know you understand them and they're counting on you to guide them to the answer.
Remember, you're not the priority. The customer is.
2. Meet Their Emotional Needs
The real driver of every purchase is emotion. Everyone does it: you, me, your customers.
Every decision comes from emotional roots and logic is used to defend the reasoning.
For example, let's look at the luxury car driver.
There's no reason someone needs to own a Ferrari over a Toyota. They both suffice to get you from Point A to Point B. There's something more at play, though. The Ferrari comes with the prestige that no Toyota will be able to match. Purchasing one hints that someone's sincere desire is to increase their status.
The logic they use to back up their decision may be different:
- "I needed a new vehicle for my commute."
- "I like the look of nice cars."
- "I have to get my kids to school, somehow."
Alternatively, some purchases are made so the customer doesn't lose status.
If a millionaire buys an old truck, it's not because he's looking to increase his status. It's because he feels that a Ferrari would be "flaunting his worth." To him, showing off expensive purchases would decrease his standing within his circle, so he chose a different route.
That need for an increase in status is the emotional desire that gets them to commit to your company. When they come for an answer, they're providing an opportunity for you to connect with them on an emotional level. So, when creating content, use problems that speak to them. Uncover things that a normal person struggles with rather than just showing the features of your product.
Find their needs and meet them.
3. Examine Their Specific Behaviors
Here's where the segmenting comes back.
While marketing relies on segmenting your audience, cognitive marketing examines customer behaviors to understand the context of their interactions. This enables a deeper breakdown within each segment. If two customers want help with their social media strategy, they likely have different reasons. One may be because they're just starting their company, while the other is still reeling from a negative interaction and wants to get their profiles back in good standing.
The context behind their decisions says a lot about what they actually need from you. Cognitive marketing relies on a higher level of independent decision making, allowing you to segment on a more personal level.
Context is the same reason marketers have known they should align CTAs with the content of where it's displayed, even if it's offering the same product. The reason a viewer interacted with that link could be drastically different.
If you're having trouble identifying their rationale, ask them. If a prospect is actually looking for a solution, you asking for more information about their problem is going to further serve both your goals.
Remember, context is pivotal to segmenting your audience.
4. Develop Your Brand's Personality
Much has been written on how to create a consistent brand. It's an essential part of every company's marketing strategy and it tells customers a lot about who you are.
Your brand's personality is more than just the graphics and phrasing you use. It's how you behave, engage, and interact with your customers. It lets them expect certain things from you and with cognitive marketing, it's vital that this remains consistent.
For example, once you've made a positive impression on them, the odds are that they'll come back to you for more answers. This is selective exposure theory. People have the innate tendency to ask questions to those who'll give the answer they want to hear. If they're struggling in a relationship and want someone to agree with them, they're not going to ask their marriage counselor; they're going to find a friend who always takes their side.
Customers work in the same way. If they found deep value in your product, the odds of them going to a competitor diminish rapidly. The emotional connection you establish from your first interactions will pay dividends later in the relationship.
If your interactions and behavior changes, it doesn't give customers that guaranteed personality they want to rely on when they need answers.
Create your brand's voice, make sure it tells your story and codify it (our workbook at the end of this article will help). Ensure your team is on the same page, and then make every interaction with customers one they'll remember.
Using Cognitive Marketing
Emotion is extremely powerful and if you want to achieve dramatic results with cognitive marketing, you need to get better at identifying the desire behind their actions.
Segment your audience based on their behaviors, learn to connect with them emotionally, and through everything, keep the focus on providing them value. If you do this, you'll get a response from customers that blows your previous strategy out of the water.
If you need additional help nailing your brand's personality, take a look at our workbook, Does Your Brand Have a Consistent Attractive Character. Ensure every interaction with your customers shows off the right side of your company with this free tool.
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