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In the latest episode of the C-Suite Marketing podcast, I have the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Carmen Simon, Chief Science Officer at Corporate Visions, who is a cognitive neuroscientist, bestselling author, and leading expert on how to use brain science to create memorable business messages. It’s a long episode but it flew by for me when I recorded it and I hope listeners find it just as engaging and inspiring as I did.
During our conversation about “your brain on marketing,” Carmen shared insights, anecdotes, and practical take-aways for B2B marketers, all based on the research she’s conducted.
We talked a lot about getting and holding an audience’s attention, and the notion that technology and living online is shortening our attention span. Carmen debunked that myth immediately, saying: “The brain hasn’t changed much for the past 40,000 years. We’re capable of paying prolonged amount of attention.”
She drew a parallel between B2B marketing and the TV shows which most of us binge-watched through the better part of the pandemic. As Carmen noted, if you can watch a show for an hour – or hours– at a time, you don’t have any problems paying attention.
Carmen believes that the techniques used by media and entertainment providers are easily transferable to B2B marketers. The problem is that marketers often worry too much about how to simplify their messages.
This worry is needless, according to Carmen. Indeed, marketers need to be cautious that they don’t oversimplify complex services and solutions.
The brain can enjoy simplicity because it doesn’t have to exert so much cognitive effort. But Carmen’s research shows that the brain actually synchronizes better with a complex stimulus. She described one of her studies that examined how the brain reacts to lack of stimulation. She had subjects stare at a beige wall for a brief period of time before they listened to a corporate pitch over Zoom. As expected, the subjects’ brains become bored quickly while sitting in front of the wall. In a surprising twist, though, the brain shortly began to entertain itself. And Carmen found that the brain is so good at entertaining itself that the business content during the Zoom pitch had to be very stimulating to compete with the brain’s own internal buzz.
The takeaway for marketers: Even if your offering or solution is complex, your message can’t be too simple. As Carmen said, “simplicity is a snoozer.”
The goal for marketers should not be to simplify complexity but rather to manage it. Realizing that an audience might remember just 10% of what’s presented, B2B marketers need to be deliberate in developing and delivering their content, so they can be in control of that 10%.
They can do this by:
- Building an information hierarchy, with an umbrella message and subsets of information
- Using repetition in a consistent way
- Leveraging attention-grabbing techniques such as animation and annotation
- Balancing what the familiar with the unknown; the predictable with the surprising; and the simple with the complex
As Carmen summarized, you don’t have to sacrifice the complexity of your solutions, but you do have to remember that the goal of B2B Marketing is to help somebody else’s brain see order through the chaos.
Listen to the full podcast to hear more on how the brain works in terms of attention, memory, and decision making, and why marketers should care.
You’ll also learn:
- How to connect with an executive audience whose attention is being drawn elsewhere
- Ways to influence complex buying decisions when you can’t meet the buyers face-to-face,
- What Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek has to do with B2B advertising
Rob Leavitt talks to Dr. Carmen Simon about the brain on marketing and how B2B marketers can create memorable business messages.