What Can Science and Crocodile Brains Teach You About Getting Your Customers to Engage?


March 30, 2018

In B2B technology marketing, “engagement is where it’s at,” but engagement is largely qualitative and hard to measure so vendors will always fall back on what they can measure: leads.

With this being the case, it’s important that your brand’s marketing has a great foundation that gets the end user from Point A to Point Engagement as quickly as possible. This, of course, seems obvious on the surface, but easier said than done. It’s too often that marketing messages are built to be vendor centric rather than customer centric, creating “invisible” barriers between you and your customers.

That gets us to the heart of the question: Why should your prospects care about you?

The truth is, they don’t. They care about themselves and their problems. The job of marketing is to get and keep their attention for as long as possible and turn that interest into an educated lead that is interested to either take action to learn more, or to contact and buy.

Easier said than done. Especially if the selling company hasn’t established a messaging foundation that designed to make this process happen. The messaging foundation should have alignment from the point of its vision, its mission, its company positioning, and its product positioning. These pieces should act as a narrative that tells the story about your company, and why your prospect should be engaged with you.

It’s one thing to present a bunch of logical information. It’s another thing entirely to post information that captures the attention of your reader and makes them care about what you are saying. Logic is great when it’s working for you, but it’s a switch that must be flipped first. The logical thing is often to be skeptical that you can solve their problem – especially if you’re a start-up.

So what is the secret? Simply put: It’s to evince emotion. However, doing that can be a challenge when you’re offering a sea of information to engineers and analytical types who are seemingly hardwired to turn off their emotions, and maintain an impenetrable skepticism that can be hard to get through. But the truth is, they are human too, subject to the same human pressures as well as evolutionary past as anyone else with a brain. Thus, we look to behavioral brain science to crack the code.

To make a long story short, human brains seem to have developed in three stages. The First stage, believe it or not, is what science calls “the crocodile brain,” AKA the “croc brain.” It is the most primitive part of our cognitive process and it is the first gatekeeper that any new information must pass. Its job is to keep us protected from harm by classifying new information as either dangerous, or worth ignoring. If you’ve got kids, you’ve probably seen The Croods. Think of the dad as this part of the brain. “New things bad. Old Familiar things, safe and good.”

The croc brain is also something of an emotional processor, regulating the biology of our emotions. This is the part of the brain that decides upfront whether the person likes you or not. We’ve all experienced meeting someone new, hearing them talking and feeling ourselves decide whether we like that person or not. This is our croc brain in action giving us signals on whether we should feel threatened by the new person, not care about them, or be intrigued.

Our job as marketers is to create a brand foundation that tamps down the fear and amps up the intrigue. On an interpersonal level, this happens when the new person is seen first as first, not a threat, and second potentially, beneficial to their status (in any number of situations).

If your brand isn’t built at its foundation towards this dynamic, you’re already off the rails on an uphill climb. This is especially true if you are a start-up with an emerging new technology. Brains are already hardwired to perceive you as a threat, which unfortunately means that they will shun or ignore you. If you are feeding them brute force logic at this point, you are talking to a wall. They may end up caring about you after you’ve brute forced your way back down to their emotional core, but this method is typically not sustainable or scalable.

If your brand and messaging is built trying to thread the right needles in your target’s brain, your leads should care about taking with you and feel more like a conveyor belt, and less like a tug of war. In a sales conversation, it goes without saying that it’s always better to be in a position to be in.

In a future post, we’ll talk about how to get through the “croc brain” of your prospects, and what to do once you have.

Isaac Lopez is a high tech marketing veteran with a two decade career in emerging tech. 

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