Hacking The Human Brain: What Every Marketing Professional Needs To Know

Hello friends — I hope you had a joyous Christmas Day that was relaxed, and full of family, love, and much too much wrapping paper.  I want to introduce you to Mark Armstrong, an illustrator whose blog I happily happened upon this afternoon. His drawing skill is quickly obvious, and after just a paragraph or two, his wit likewise becomes apparent — I now follow his blog, markarmstrongillustration.com, and you may want to do the same.

Hacking The Human Brain: What Every Marketing Professional Needs To Know


A recent illustration for The Partner Channel Magazine, which focuses on marketing and salesmanship. It was for an article entitled Why People Buy.

The author defined marketing as applied psychology, and began by asking this question: How do you get inside of people’s heads to get them to buy from you? A rather visceral image immediately sprang to mind. Here’s the final:

humorous illustration for Partner Channel magazine about salesmanship and making sales and marketing skills and six essential traits needed for getting inside customer's head, showing salesman with briefcase opening trapdoor on man's head and about to descend ladder down into man's cranium to access his brain

A more interesting question, perhaps, was this: What tips the scale to get people to buy from you instead of your perhaps equally competent competitors? The author went on to discuss 6 psychological triggers that influence the way people buy and behave. Here’s a brief summary:

1. Reciprocation: Give to get. You comment on my blog, I’ll comment on yours.

2. Commitment: Small sales lead to bigger. A satisfied customer will ask you to take on on bigger, higher-paying jobs.

3. Social Proof: Evidence that people like you and your work: sales, commissions, testimonials, enthusiastic followers.

4. Liking: People buy from people they know and like. Reach out, join groups, be friendly and courteous.

5. Authority: We buy from people who project it. Good manners, good grammar, knowledgeable blog posts all project authority.

6. Scarcity: The ol’ limited time only: People will buy it today if they’re afraid it might not be available tomorrow.

I decided to incorporate these buzzwords into the illustration by running them around the perimeter of the face. Photoshop’s ability to string text along a path came in handy here. I could then adjust the path to align the text perfectly along the head’s contours.

There’s something amusing about “Reciprocation” curving along someone’s nose. Here’s a close-up:

detail image of humorous illustration for Partner Channel magazine about salesmanship and making sales and marketing skills and six essential traits needed for getting inside customer's head, showing salesman with briefcase opening trapdoor on man's head and about to descend ladder down into man's cranium to access his brain

You can see some slightly thicker lines running through the brain. They define its four principal lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal– what you’d see in a medical diagram. It makes me smile at myself for being such a stickler for detail.

I wanted the brain to be anatomically correct. Why? Because the humor in the drawing depends on the reader instantly recognizing the brain for what it is. It has to look the part, even if it’s only a “cartoon brain.”

It’s the old maxim: one has to know the rules before one can successfully break them. A humorous illustrator has to know what something really looks like before he can draw a credible cartoon version of it.

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What do you think? Ever heard anyone coming down that little ladder into your skull? Is blogging a form of salesmanship? one that requires us to pay attention to these same psychological triggers?

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:

Happy Birthday To Folksinger Patty Larkin And Her Machine Gun Guitar

Paula Deen, Twinkies, And The National Debt 

Ring Around The Rosary, We All Stand Together

footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information



Nov 26, 2012

Distill Your Message to as Few Words as Possible

Your customers are constantly being bombarded with new information. Simplicity has never been more powerful.

It’s amazing how complex our lives have become.  Nothing’s simple anymore.  Think about it.  Even your Facebook page has a million things going on.  The increase in complexity has led to a decrease in focus.  It’s hard to know what even matters anymore.

Well the same is true for your customers.  The noise is so deafening sometimes that your most important message can easily get lost in the shuffle.  What are you trying to tell me?  What do I need to know about you and your products?  What is it you want me to remember about you, your company?

Everybody’s talking at once, saying so much, that customers can no longer remember what we started talking about in the first place.  Tweets are flying through the atmosphere as thick as a flock of birds, filling minds with an endless stream of useless information, and crowding out the few things that were really worth knowing.

Why is this so important?  Because the world is noisier now than it’s ever been, the competition is tougher and more global, and your customer is being bombarded around the clock with a massive stream of messaging that makes it ever more difficult to remember you and your company.

What can you do about it?  Focus on simplicity.  To be truly memorable, to be the one product or service that people remember when the dust settles, you need to narrow down your message, streamline your sentences, cut out all the fluff, and deliver one–yes, just one–strong, simple message, and deliver it clearly and concisely.

One of the most valuable skills in the world is the ability to explain complex concepts in simple, easy-to-understand terms.  Writing lots of words is easy.  Making your point with an absolute minimum number of words is really hard.  Yet it is so much more effective.  Mark Twain once said: “I would have written that shorter, but I didn’t have the time.”  Find the time.

Imagine you had a quick minute to tell a potential customer why he should do business with you.  Because in today’s world, that’s all you have anyway.  Write down what you want to say.  Now cross out as many words as you can, each time reading the sentence again to see if it still delivers the point you want to make.  Keep crossing out words until you have created the shortest sentence you possibly can.

Next, go to one person and deliver your simplified pitch.  As soon as you are done, have that person tell a person who wasn’t in the room what you just said.  The goal is this: if a person who hears your simple message can repeat it pretty accurately to the next person who asks what your company does, you’ve got it right.  If they don’t say exactly the words you want repeated–to build your brand and establish your company’s unique value–go back to the drawing board and simplify it some more.  Keep it brief, straightforward, and clear.  Eliminate any industry-specific jargon.  Avoid the noise and clutter.

There is an elegance in simplicity.  Simplicity does not mean removing features, benefits, or services from your product.  It means distilling what’s most importantabout those features, and explaining them in the fewest words possible.  Go ahead, write yours down, and get busy crossing things out.

(Admittedly, I probably could have written this column in only two paragraphs.)

Jeff Hoffman, co-founder of ColorJar, is a serial entrepreneur who was on the founding teams of Priceline.com and uBid.com. He is also a frequent public speaker on the topics of innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership. @colorjar


What the blankity blank blog am I doing? New Visions

New Visions

“Seeing” things a little differently

Exactly… what am I doing?

As if I don’t have enough to do around this time of year, here I go with another challenge. I’m beginning to realize that I like challenges. Maybe it spurs my emotions to stretch and go further than what I think I can do. Whatever the reason, I seem to find myself right in the middle of different types of challenges.

I work a full-time job, live in two different houses (that’s another story for another day), getting ready to participate in an arts and crafts fair coming up soon, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, writing speeches for toastmasters, managing my new website, finish my memoirs, and this @#$*! blog!

Busy_woman : one frustrated young business woman with many of post it representing concept memory and frustration on work Stock Photo


Please don’t misunderstand me…I love my blog. It has brought me much joy, writing my thoughts and connecting with so many cool people like you. But, here I go… participating in yet another challenge. It’s the WordPress, November NaBloPoMo challenge. I am supposed to write every day for the entire month. Sounded fun at first…it suddenly just dawned on me that I am BUSY!

Another challenge that I have created for myself? I am attempting to quit drinking diet sodas. I am three days into being completely diet soda free! I have been experiencing a lot of insomnia lately and I want to see if this helps. (also knowing diet soda is not healthy for me.)

So, forgive me if I am rambling. I just had to get a post in before I continue with my long list of “things to do.”

Have a great day everyone!


FYI – Please follow this link to my new website http://sherrylcook.com and subscribe by entering your email to receive weekly newsletters on keeping your mind, body and spirit happy and healthy!

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