Your marketing strategy should be based around removing a “pain” for your clientele. But you have to make sure the pain you solve is real one and solving this pain doesn’t conflict with your customer’s somatic markers (hard wiring in the brain that influences buying decisions and determines how effective marketing will be).
JC Penny’s is learning this lesson right now. Earlier this year Penney’s launched a marketing strategy aimed at consumers who were tired of clipping coupons, showing up for early morning sales, and other tactics used by retailers to get customers in the door. The results – disaster. Their stock has consistently fallen and revenues continue to drop. (Now they’re left backpedaling and undoing marketing they spent millions on by reintroducing sale days and coupons are probably right behind. Penney’s is scratching its head, but if they had taken a look at this marketing strategy from a neuromarketing angle they probably could have avoided this.
Two Key Reasons Why It Didn’t Work
#1 JC Penney’s didn’t consider the somatic markers created in the minds of Americans when the economy went nuts. Prior to the end of 2008 coupons and sales had value, but weren’t as critical. After that, a somatic marker was created in our minds telling us we need to conserve our money whenever and wherever possible. So we when we buy a commodity we want to make sure we’re getting “a deal”. If you have a family member that lived through the great depression you’ve seen the same somatic marker in action whenever they did something like recycle tinfoil. They do this because they lived through a time when every penny counted. You may not recycle tinfoil, but I bet you’re a lot more conscious of how much you spend than you were a few years ago.
#2 They broke one of the cardinal rules of marketing – they got rid of the “call to action” and the reason to go to their store. What they thought they were saying was, “You’ll get great prices anytime you come in.” What we heard was, “I don’t need to go now. I can check other places first and if I don’t find what I want – then I’ll go.” They became the last stop rather than the first and all those signs yelling SPECIAL PRICE and LIMITED TIME OFFER got us buying before we got there because of the somatic marketing I talked about in reason #1.
You don’t need to spend millions of dollars to learn this lesson. Just remember that what’s happening in the minds of your audience is the most important part of your marketing strategy and you if you want them to do something – you have to tell them to do it.