Up until now, I tried to explain that we are all robots. 85% of human behaviour is programmed. Life functions on automatic pilot. So, what are we going to do with it ? If we leave the robot ethics aside, how can a marketer use this knowledge ?
- Most crucial knowledge is to know how programing takes place
We can roughly categorise the programming stages into four:
Each programming stage imprints certain control loops in the brain. Culture is society's transmission of programming imprints from one generations to other.
However, accidents happen and you get niches. You get regular imprints for your programming stage from the cultural environment you live in and / or some accidental input which make you different than your neighbor next door.
Honestly, a good market research should tell me the existing imprints in the society, regular ones and niches. In that way, I will have a good understanding of their robotic behavior. Should I spend my money to go against the imprints or simply play along ?
Change happens, but on the surface. Deep down, fundamentals never change. Know your imprints, you will know where not to waste money and time.
The biggest myht of all times is free will I guess. Before I come to that I will inject a little bit nostalgia to this article.
When I was working for Toyota back in the days, there was one interesting method to uncover the source of any problem faced. It was called "5 why". Simple as it seems, it holds a deep wisdom in itself. 5 is just a symbolic number, the aim is to reach a point where you won't need to ask another why to fully clarify the matter. Root cause analysis is another name for it, however its simplicity had made it elusive to me until I fully realised its potential for marketing.
Fast forward to now, in one of my blog articles, I tried to explain what a reality bubble is. In a nutshell, a reality bubble is :
- Pre-programmed set values to respond to outside stimulu
- Pre-programmed (all humans are programmed to a certain extent, unfortunately not by themselves)
- Set values (programmers dictate the values that the human software will take into consideration)
- Response to outside stimulu (everything and anything reaches to brain is interpreted by the programm and measured against the set values. Any variance demands response. A simple control loop)
And here comes "5 Why"...Let's say you've just read this blog until this point and your blood started to boil. Ask yourself why. Did you recognize something bothersome ? Maybe my mockery of "free will" ? But why are you angry ? (second why)
Actually every emotional response is automatic. A part of the human software. If you dig deep enough what you will find out is how this emotional response is programmed as a control loop into your software. But people do not dig deep.
...people do not dig deep. Life is most of the time on automatic pilot. Free will is a myth. I think only Mr.Spock can have a free will and really enjoy it.
So, as a marketing professional, I ask myself this crucial question :
- How can I understand the programm of my targeted customers ?
You can always de-programm and re-programm but such strategies need lots of money. You can surf on the wave of robotic behaviour of your customers in a much cost effective way than trying to change their reality bubbles. Don't get me wrong, change happens. But change happens as long as the deeper structure of human software allows it.
I will try to uncover the human software in coming articles and share with you some ideas about riding the wave of robotic behaviour of customers.
Try to find 5 reasons why walking naked in public is a bad thing and explain them to a nudist. Or better, try to find 5 reasons why the bucket in the corner is the creator of the universe and explain them to your strictly religious colleague in the office.
Let's face it, truth is a numbers game. If enough number of people accepts a certain reality bubble, truth will be shaped by their perceptions.
- The bucket in the corner. If somehow, a critical number of followers has been awarded to the bucket cult, we've got a new reality, an accepted truth by the majority. The bucket is the new paradigm.
- What if fully clothed lifestyle becomes minority in the public ? You are the outcast with your 3 buttoned suit.
So, the truth changes according to the dominant reality bubble's references. But what are the forces shaping the reality bubbles ? How can we push our own reality bubble to claim the ownership of the truth ?
Actually, some thinkers in marketing say that you should not. Play according to the rules, minds do not change, don't waste your advertising money. I agree. However,
- Reality bubbles do not have "infinite" number of references to cover all the possibilities life can throw at them
- Differentiation is the key to sneak into a reality bubble, differentation saves the day as you can avoid direct competition with accepted paradigms. To survive, you have to find yourself a place in the mind where the existing model does not have an undisputed dominance.
Once you establish yourself on that virgin land, you can work upwards, downwards, left and right to extend your influence. But don't forget, YOU SHALL NOT TRY TO COMPETE with the existing reality. You should separate yourself as a DIFFERENT realm of existence.
- If your job is to sell cigarettes, do not try to refute health concerns. (I think this lesson is learned)
There is one interesting thing about differentiation. People do not understand what you are talking about unless you use something familiar to explain. So, once you have a good differentiation point, use FAMILIAR things to explain yourself. Study the existing reality bubble to decide what is familiar for (targeted) people.
And remember. There is no truth. Everything is permitted as long as the numbers are enough.
I am right, you are wrong. Evindence ? Doesn't matter, as long as I believe that I am right, I am right. This is a classic statement of a reality bubble. Let's explore it closely...
A reality bubble is a set of assumptions about the quality of experiences of an individual. In everday language, it is our faith in our assumptions about true nature of things. Once we put our faith into our beliefs to help us explain the world, we want to stick to it. Change requires another set of beliefs to replace the existing one. So, one model goes, another comes in. Humans always use models to face the world outside.
If we do not use a model to filter and assign meanings to inputs coming from the world, we feel in danger. Uncertanity makes us uneasy. That's why a reality bubble is here to stay, we do not want to let it go. Once we establish a relationship with a brand, we want to believe that brand X has such and such qualities that is for sure. It could be bad, it could be good. Example ? Think about political parties. Once you start to think that party X has such and such qualities, you tend to ignore / undermine the contradicting evidence. Hey, it is what I know after all.
So, a reality bubble is a set of meanings assigned to the inputs from outside world. After some time, it works on a purely emotional level. You just feel the meaning, no thought spared to understand the reality. If another model wants to replace your model, your resistance occurs on emotional level. You feel uneasy. It makes you feel comfortable to go back to your existing model. It is what you know after all.
Let's get back to our opening line. I am right, you are wrong. You must be wrong, because "I" know that I am right. Think about that. Imagine that I am trying to convince you that Earth is flat. By saying Earth is flat, I make you uneasy fundamentally. Something inside you rings alarm bells. This is because this statement shakes the foundations of your reality set. Whole set is about to crumble, more than that your identity is about to crumble. Your reality bubble becomes your identity after sometime. Think about that.
So, how are you going to convince people to change their minds ? Actually you shouldn't. I will explain it in coming blog articles.
Last week I visited Syria and Lebanon. What I observed there was the classic dilemna of the opportunist.
Let's briefly remember how an opportunist firm functions in the market. Most of the time, it observes the market before it takes any action. The timing of the action heavily depends on the "take off moment" of a particular product in the market. When the demand becomes visibly strong for a particular product, it enters the market with a cheap imitation. Numbers talk, a business model on automatic pilot. What's the relation with neurons and brain then ?
The opportunist tries to walk on the footprints of another brand. Therefore, it should be always cheaper to fit itself to the existing slot. Otherwise, it has no reason to exist in the first place. However, here comes the neurons. Remember that such firms take action when the sales are visibly strong. This is the time they lose actually. Strong sales means consumer has already established a relation with the original. Hir mind already has a clear understanding of what the brand stands for. Remember, brain is plastic. Time passes and new pathways are established in the brain to associate the original with its identity. If you want to kill your opponent in the market, you should never let the time pass. Time passes and neurons establishes the pathways, the original is embedded into sub-conscioussness. What does the latecomer have to establish itself in the market place ? Price...
Just because of this simple fact, the opportunist loses in the long term. Because he is not the only smart guy in the city. Others with better cost structures attack using the same formula. Market place turns into an arena. Blood spills...At the end of the game, everyone loses, profits evaporate.
Here comes the dilemna. The opportunist who is too afraid to innovate finds itself in a worse position in the long term. But it is too late to leave the price game. Because neurons works for both ways. They establish the original as the innovator, you as the cheap imitator. You can't make the quantum jump unless you have a very deep pocket to re-programm your consumers.
You can't be two things at the same time. Simple as that. Human brain is where you record your identity. You can't erase the pathways overnight to compete in a different field with a different identity.
Repeating has a morbid effect. After sometime, it makes u a believer. Brain is plastic. Perception is plastic. If ur exposed to enough repetition , things become real for you. How ?
You have to keep your reality bubble alive with positive feedback. You have to think in the way what your reality bubble contains and prove it with selective perception. Thinker thinks, prover proves. If your reality bubble takes a dent, you are in trouble. You will feel insecure, try to refute the new information, try to mend the crack.
But, if repetition persists, then you will slowly realize that ur reality bubble ( your selective perception and world view) is changing. Example :
- Spend a year with truck drivers, go to the same bars they go, drink with them, talk to them, laugh at their jokes
- Soon you will be a truck driver too. Repetition matters.
Think about the political campaigns. Repetition of a singular message makes magic. Problem for the campaigner is that he should find the sharpest message to crack into your reality bubble. Once he is in, he will re-construct the reality for you bit by bit. It starts with a repeating singular message. It ends in total control of your reality bubble. A separate reality he constructs.
A marketer should penetrate into the reality bubbles of people. Repetition is a sharpened arrow to open a crack. However, it starts with a small point where you concentrate your strength. So, repeating message should be simple and single. It is your arrow to drill a hole in the reality wall.
You keep on drilling and eventually there will be a hole to get in. It may not be that big, so u should narrow your focus. You should push something squeezable into that narrow passage.
Your concentrated singular message is your virus. Repetition matters.
Once a wise man called Buckminster Fuller said that "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
That's what needs to be done in marketing. All right, all right, I can hear you scream, what do we make of the contradiction in this preaching.
- Don't fight the existing reality
- Make it obsolete at the same time
Another wise man Jack Trout once wrote if u cant find a good position for urself in the mind of the prospect, then undermine the position of the competitor (depositioning), make his reality obsolete in Fuller's terms.
- I do not care about the existing reality of the competitor
- However, i do everything to make the consumer to live in MY reality bubble (so u should have something different to offer)
Living in my reality bubble ? Think about it...Think about cults. Each one of them has a reality bubble. Once ur sucked in, all the others reality bubbles are obsolete for u. Think about it. You created a brand ? Or a reality bubble which filters the sensory inputs coming to ur prospect in a way that your customer stays exactly where u want him to stay ? At least as a metaphor.
Can you do it ? Can you shape the reality of your customer in a way that existing reality becomes obsolete for him ? Is it too much ? How about fashion ? Shoulder pads in 80's and flannel in 90's...What makes you think EXACTLY what is fashionable ?
For me, a brand should create a complete package. A sensory model to explain the world to your customer. What is cool, what is uncool...So, this is anti-customization. With your reality model, you will customize ur customer. Is it too much ? Think about fashion, think about religion once again.
OK, I got the message, ADIDAS just spat on my face with its new billboards. Angie, 19, she's got 19 yoga students in her class. Only one, she focused on. Herself. I like that actually. Love yourself, be yourself. Do something for yourself. Not for others. Buy Adidas, for yourself. Don't listen to your auntie.
Well, the critical question is this : Since when we do things purely to satisfy ourselves ( even sex)
How many influencers do tell us to do things to satisfy someone else ? Role models have their own scripts. Lets think about some taboos.
- Mother role (living for children) How many mothers can tell that actually they hate their children ? I love my child, she's my baby, an angel, so pure and innocent ! Yeah, sure...Script is right there. Read it loud.
- Father role (living for children + wife occasionally) How many fathers can tell they actually want to run away, be free and enjoy life ?
The list goes on and on. Marketing research is useless to reach out the hidden gem, the truth. Script is read and acted, only an inspired marketer can move beyond masks and may touch the desires hidden.
- How many of us wanted to do something really really obscene but afraid of damages to hir public image ?
The list goes on and on. My take on this subject is this :
- Lets create symbols /artifacts/ products for "forbidden individuality" which can help people "be themselves" behind a safety net
Hey, dont get me wrong, i am not here to sell t-shirts to serial killers, however, i want you to think about it. What can be done to free the mind and body behind a safety net, at least symbolically ?