MARKETING COMMUNICATION & BRAIN SCIENCE: The Secret To Getting Audience Attention
Science tells us that EVERY HEALTHY BRAIN has a biological gatekeeper called a Reticular Activating System, (RAS) to help it be alert to danger or opportunity while otherwise staying focused on the task at hand.
As the Gatekeeper of Conscious Attention, the RAS works much like an executive assistant to handle the myriad details of life on well-trained autopilot until something comes along that might need higher level attention or judgment.
Take the blink reflex for example. If a flying object is moving away from you, while you are typing on your keyboard or driving, some part of your brain decides it’s probably not important, and you may not even notice it. But it something is coming at your head quickly, or barreling toward your car, you will blink, duck, or swerve to safety first and think later.
As if distraction and channel noise weren’t enough…
“Selective Attention” is based on a biological defense and survival mechanisms that help us ignore unimportant stimuli so we can accomplish important tasks. This is inportant to help understand which marketing messages are ignroed and why.
If You Are NOT In the car market when a car ad or billboards crosses your sensory realm, you are likely not to notice, even though they are all around you many times per day. This is because when a car ad makes its way into your sight path, the RAS gatekeeper in your brain will reject further processing without you even being tempted to pay it any attention.
Which Marketing Messages ARE NOT IGNORED – And Why: On the other hand, if you are in the car market, the RAS gatekeeper system will be help you collect visual or auditory signals about car buying on to conscious attention which can result in interest, desire, or action.
How To Get Past The “RAS” Gatekeeper System. Brain science has proven that the RAS system works twice as fast when evaluating unexpected, fast-moving, or emotionally charged stimuli as compared to logical stimuli while deciding what to block out or pass it to the conscious mind. Logical stimuli such as words or sounds or images in which we have no immediate interest based on danger level, current desires, or task focus are handled a lot slower, if at all. This means your message must hit a hot button in the first second or two by launching a sensory grenade about danger, emotion, opportunity, or task at hand that is of immense interest to your target audience.
A Personal Favorite Example of A Soft Sell Visual is an image of a puppy playing with a crawling baby… next to a box of disposable diapers… This works because new parents are tuned into cuteness of babies of all kinds, and are immediately alerted to potential danger with an animal running toward a baby… and these new parents need disposable diapers… So the RAS tells them to pay attention. Get it?
Emotionally charged, Exceptionally Beautiful, Fast-moving, Scary, Or Out Of Context Visuals Work Best. Consider the success of the Geico talking gecko lizard, the State Farm ad showing a house on fire, or the Famers’ Insurance ad showing a gopher stealing a diamond ring from a golf cart. These earn conscious attention when a direct rational headline question such as, “Do you have enough insurance” would not.
Getting the RAS Gatekeeper to Cooperate In Gaining Audience Attention. To get your marketing message past the RAS you need to present a fast-moving or emotional stimuli before sending the message. It doesn’t even have to be related. Out of context visuals are popular in advertising for this reason. You can build logic in after gaining attention so that your message can proceed to creating interest, desire, and action.
Well crafted surprising or unexpected videos, still images, or audible stories addressing fears, survival, latent desires or current interests in target market demographically or psychographically segmented targeted market work best to get the gatekeeper RAS system to pass the event to the level of attention so it can receive conscious evaluation.
Does Your Marketing Message Delivery “RAZ THE RAS” before you start your Pitch?
Does Your Marketing Message Delivery Style and Creative Accomplish This? Does Web Site Home Page, Landing Page, Do This?
If not, get some help and you will get better results!