Buyology: Truth & Lies About Why We Buy

November 5, 2008
Book cover of

The other week, the folks at Doubleday sent me a review copy of Martin LIndstrom‘s latest book Buyology (side note: as I huge reader, I must say that free books might just be the greatest perk/reward I can think of for blogging).  Now I hadn’t read anything by Lindstrom before, but I was fascinated by his claim to be a “Brand Futurist” and the sub-title of his latest book – “Truth & Lies About Why We Buy.”  I was further intrigued after reading how Amazon described the book:

How much do we know about why we buy? What truly influences our decisions in today’s message-cluttered world? An eye-grabbing advertisement, a catchy slogan, an infectious jingle? Or do our buying decisions take place below the surface, so deep within our subconscious minds, we’re barely aware of them?

In BUYOLOGY, Lindstrom presents the astonishing findings from his groundbreaking, three-year, seven-million-dollar neuromarketing study, a cutting-edge experiment that peered inside the brains of 2,000 volunteers from all around the world as they encountered various ads, logos, commercials, brands, and products. His startling results shatter much of what we have long believed about what seduces our interest and drives us to buy.

I had a chance to read the book last week while traveling to the Forrester Consumer Forum and overall I have to give it good marks.  Here are just a few of the random tidbits I found most interesting:

  • When studying the sponsorship of American Idol, Lindstrom found huge differences in the impact for Coke and Ford.  Overall, Coke’s product placement had a measurable impact given its blatant appearance throughout the show.  Ford on the other hand actually had a negative impact, causing people to be less likely to buy a Ford.  Not a good impact for a $26 million investment.
  • Mirror neurons can become activated not only when observing other people’s behavior, but also when reading about it.  So when I type yawn, there is a good chance you are going to yawn or at least have the beginning stirrings of a yawn!
  • Kit-Kat has had huge success in the Far East because it is close to “Kitto-Katsu”. which roughly translates to “Win without fail.”  As a result, students in Japan believe that eating a Kit-Kat before they take an exam will help them score higher.
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Paul Gillin unveils the Secrets of Social Media Marketing

October 13, 2008

Recently Paul Gillin, the author of The New Influencers, offered up 250 free galley copies of his latest book Secrets of Social Media Marketing.  The book arrived right before we left Arkansas and it turned out to be a great read for the road.  What I loved most was the honesty from Gillin upfront.  As he wrote in the beginning:

This book isn’t intended for the 10% of marketers who are on the leading edge.  It’s for the 90% who are still figuring out how to start.

Along these lines, Paul bluntly calls out the book as a “How To” guide for marketers to get into Social Media.  I think this step by step approach is exactly what most Brand Managers need and it is something that has been missing from most social media books out there.

Now with that in mind, here are my favorite quotes and facts from Secrets of Social Media Marketing:

“Embracing change is the only sure success strategy in a business world that is evolving faster than we have ever known.”

“[Marketers] spent decades refining tactics built around messages…they are now being told messages don’t matter.  They need to become Chief Conversation Officers.”

“It took 40 years for the TV to reach 2/3 of homes in the US.  The Internet did it less than 15 years.”

“47% of marketers cited ‘fear of loss of control’ as an impediment to social media adoption”

“Jupiter Research estimates that $12 billion dollars worth of TV advertising is blown away by TiVo and similar devices in 2007”

“Many marketers measure their importance and influence by the size of their budgets.  Social media campaigns are so cost-efficient that marketers may actually see their budgets – and their status – fall over time.  While this doesn’t make much sense, it is a fact of corporate life.”

And finally, I love this quote from my good friend and fellow P&G’er, Ted McConnell:

“How much control do you give up?  That’s like asking the person holding you up at gunpoint how much money to give them.” @ ad:tech 2006

Needless to say, this book has quickly gone to the top of my must read list for Brand Managers.

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Two must reads on Social Media

September 6, 2008

While I was on the road this past week, I finally had a chance to finish two books that have been sitting on my nightstand.  Both are must-reads for any marketer/brand manager that is trying to understand the changing landscape that puts the consumer in control:

  • Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000: Written by my good friend Pete Blackshaw, this book talks about how in a consumer-driven world, business leaders need to establish credibility for their brands by listening and engaging with customers.  My favorite part of the book comes near the end when Pete talks about the Consumer Relations Department.  For years Consumer Relations has been a forgotten cost center, often outsourced to the farthest reaches of the globe in an attempt at lowering costs.  But in today’s world, Consumer Relations is often the front line for listening to consumers.  Pete makes the point for rethinking the Consumer Relations Department by taking money away from Mass Media and investing it to form better relationships with Consumers.  I couldn’t agree more.
  • Groundswell – Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies:  I have become a big fan of Forrester recently and this book does nothing by reaffirm that faith.  Unlike other books on Social Media that focus on the technology, Groundswell focuses on the social shift of how consumers behave and the impact it is having on business.  They do so by looking at 25 real-life case studies of the Groundswell in action, while layering it with deep Forrester data.  They also take the book one step further with not only a great blog, but also a free Social Technographics Profile for your customers.

These two books are at the top of my list for anyone wanting to understand the dramatic change that has taken place in the consumer landscape.  Great stuff.

4 ways Web 2.0 might be flawed

July 21, 2008

I’m a huge believer in the power of “Web 2.0”; in the power of social computing to change the fabric of how society interacts with each other other.  So when I saw a book at the library that took the opposite stance and accused the Internet of killing society, I had to pick it up.  After spending the last two days reading  The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture by Andrew Keen, I have really been thinking if there might be some downside implications of social computing that I haven’t thought about.  It’s an interesting challenge to take the position or opinion that is completely different than yours.  So inspired by the book, I decided to jot down 4 ways Web 2.0 might be flawed…and why I might be wrong for being such a strong believer: Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t fight pirates, learn from them

July 9, 2008
I have been meaning to read Matt Mason’s The Pirate’s Dilemma for some time now.  I finally got around to it this past weekend and the wait was well worth it.

“The Pirate’s Dilemma tells the story of how youth culture drives innovation and is changing the way the world works. It offers understanding and insight for a time when piracy is just another business model, the remix is our most powerful marketing tool and anyone with a computer is capable of reaching more people than a multi-national corporation.”

What makes this book so unique is that it combines lessons on business, marketing, culture, youth, and music into one.  All in all, it creates a read that is not only entertaining but also informative.  Here are just a few of the quotes/parts I found most interesting:

  • For more than a hundred years, capitalists have been marketing youth culture back to people, attaching cultural significance to goods and services through advertising.
  • This is the story of how pirates might save this sinking ship. Often pirates are the first to feel the winds of change blowing. The answer to the Pirate’s Dilemma lies in the stories of pirates sailing into waters uncharted by society and the markets, spaces where traditional rules don’t apply. The answers lie in the history of youth culture.
  • “Today the most disruptive voices are no longer the artists’ voices being piped over the corporate airwaves,” Marc Ecko told Royal magazine in 2006. “It’s the voice of the pirate, the pirate has become the producer. The indy-punk ‘f the man’ message is no longer a hook in a song. It’s scary. It’s hungry. It’s Godzilla. He’s knocking on the door uninvited, ready for dessert.”
  • Graffiti is the blowback from centuries of advertising and the privatization of common spaces, which has armed corporations with new branding tools as much as it encouraged people to counteract these intrusions.
  • Successful pirates adapt quickly to social and technological changes, but this is true of all entrepreneurs. What pirates do differently is create new spaces where different ideas and methods run the show.
  • Web 2.0 is all about the pirate mentality.

I highly encourage you to pick up the book yourself, either by purchasing it online or downloading it. 

Taking Tequila Shots on Sunday

July 6, 2008

I’m not talking about the Patron variety of tequila shots but instead the mini-book “Tequila Shots” by word-of-mouth and brand identity agency Brains on Fire.  I came across these guys thanks to John Moore’s “Three Reads” over at Brand Autopsy.  Since it was a lazy Sunday, I spent the morning taking Tequila Shots to see what the style of this agency was all about.   Here is what caught my eye from the quick read:

  1. This book is a stellar way to show the company culture…both to potential clients and to new employees.  You instantly get a feeling for the pulse of the place.  I love the line “if your work is your calling and not just a job, you will embrace it in everything you do.”
  2. I love their concept of Marketer-in-Residency.  It’s a way for the agency to give their clients access to some of the “smartest thinkers and doers in marketing.”  This is a brilliant way to bring fresh blood into the agency on a short term, while giving individual marketing practioners access to the overall structure of an agency.  A similiar structure has worked for years with Venture Capitalists and their “Entreprenuers-in-Residency” programs so why not agencies as well.  Very cool idea that I think a lot of agencies (and even companies) could learn from.  I could see myself really enjoying something like this…
  3. “The growth & development of people is the higest calling of leadership.”  More people need to think this way.  If people around you succeed and grow, you will be successful as well.
  4. Courageously Honest – I love this insight.  Some people call it being blunt….courageously honest is another way to put it.  There really shouldn’t be any gray zone in work.  Ideas are either good or bad.  Marketing either works or it doesn’t.  More people need the courage to be honest…it is pretty refreshing when they are.
  5. “If it ain’t fun, we must be doing it wrong.”  First, I love the picture of the bulldog that goes along with this quote.  But I love the idea even more.  More people need to have fun with work.  I am a huge believer of work hard, play hard, have fun.  As a Brand Manager, this is the type of relationship you need with your agency.  Unfortunately not enough people act this way.  Judging by the number of drinks in this mini-book, I think these guys know the definition of fun.

Take a tequila shot for yourself by downloading the book here.  Great, quick read if you have the chance.  This agency is one I’m going to be keeping my eye. 

P.S. –  If someone from Brains on Fire happens to read this post, you made the classic mistake of misspelling Procter as Proctor in John Moore’s biography on your site 🙂  Might want to change that.  Just practicing courageous honesty and all to point it out.

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Accidental Branding is a must read for Brand Managers

June 10, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a new book called Accidental Branding that outlined how 8 entrepreneurs had built their brands.  The book’s author, David Vinjamuri, contacted me after that post and offered to send me a full copy of the book to read myself.  After finishing up the book this past weekend, I am glad I took him up on the offer.  Accidental Branding isn’t your typical marketing or business book.  That is probably what made it such a refreshing read.  Instead, the book is more about story telling.  Vinjamuri reveals upfront the six tips for Accidental Branding that he discovered by studying entrepreneurs.  Then instead of rehashing these tips again and again, he insteads dives straight into story telling.  In a sense, you can see the teaching side of him come out in these stories as he walks you through his encounters with entrepreneurs like Gary Erickson of Clif Bar.  The stories are what makes this such a great read.  Vinjamuri really gives you an inside peak into not just the brands, but also the people behind the brands.  These stories are really inspirational, especially for those of us doing branding at major CPG’s.  I think sometimes we forget the hard work and labor that entrepreneurs do to build a brand from the ground up.  They arent blessed with million dollar marketing budgets or deep consumer research departments.  They have to build the brands from the ground up and their consumer research comes from being a consumer themself.  Accidental Branding provides an insider’s look at these journeys, providing an extremely entertaining reading along the way that every marketer will enjoy.