By Jim Gilmartin –
A paradigm is not a way of doing things; it is a way of thinking about things. A new marketing paradigm cannot be understood according to the rules of the paradigm it replaces. Says brain researcher Bernard Baars in In the Theater of the Brain, “Our inability to report intentions and expectations simply reflect the fact that they are not qualitatively conscious. A more dramatic discovery is that motivations do not originate in the conscious mind. This discovery seriously undermines traditional ideas about how to learn about customers’ motivations. It is a discovery that is bound to reshape both research and marketing.”
Many Baby Boomers are diversifying more as they grow older. That diversification, plus the segmentation of 21st Century advertising, is making them much tougher to reach through advertising. As Boomers move from the crowd-thinking of their youth to personal uniqueness in their older years, marketers should offer those messages that generally reflect a conditional (vs. absolute) tone, allowing each reader/viewer to interpret the message based upon their own needs and desires.
It stands beyond any need to defend the proposition that marketing success rises or falls according to the marketer’s understanding of the Boomer’s worldview, values and aspirations. However, this basic need of marketing cannot be satisfied by asking Boomers about such issues. Few people know themselves well enough to give a marketer the answer he or she wants.
The model for framing an approach to connecting with Boomers is patterned after the way the human brain works. When information enters the brain’s cortex – the right brain tackles information brought in by the senses, looking for associations between incoming information and a person’s interests. It prioritizes the information through information triage (like a hospital ER) in order to narrow the flow of information to the conscious mind to what its working memory can handle.
Moreover, as I have often said, the right hemisphere cannot process abstractions like words and numbers. They must be converted to sensory images first. When information presented to the brain is affect-free or emotionally neutral, the brain has to work harder to process the information than if the information has already been reduced to sensory images. By using images and storytelling techniques your message becomes more vivid, engaging, memorable and compelling.
Finally, no matter the quality of discovery, research and analysis, and the integration of quantitative and qualitative input, a marketing campaign’s outcome ultimately depends on the character and quality of communications with consumers. Beginning with a clear direction (strategic thinking), and a better understanding of how the Boomer mind processes information marketers will avoid the dilemma described by Lewis Carroll in“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” When Alice, lost in wonderland, came upon the Cheshire cat at a fork in the road, and asked, “Which road do I take,” the cat responded, “It really doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you’re going.”