5 rules of neuromarketing that brands can use to drive marketing ROI

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Neuromarketing sounds scary and difficult, but it’s actualy the opposite! It’s just using a person’s ingrained habits and instincts to your advantage to make your marketing more effective. In fact, you’re probably doing it without realising. Here’s a few techniques that you can use over the next year to tap into your customers and boost sales.

  1. The customer wants it and he wants it now!

This is nothing new. In fact, it’s a natural instinct that humans have always had. If you passed up food because you might get more in the future, that decision could cost you your life. So, how does this translate into sales?

Customers aren’t stupid, they know that there will be sales at certain times of the year: Boxing Day, Black Friday, End of Season etc. and wait until these times for purchases, causing the dip in sales many businesses experience. In 2016, John Lewis saw a 2.6% drop in sales in the week leading up to Black Friday, worth £114.2 million, as customers put off purchases waiting for the sales.

Avoid this dip by enticing customers to purchase in this period. Send them vouchers and personalised discounts to get them spending before the sales. The customer will take the immediate discount over the potential future discount, even though that may be more. This also ties into their fear that what they want may sell out (see tip 2 for more)

This doesn’t just apply to sales. Dropbox saw that by offering extra storage for each referral they increased their referral rate, going from 100,000 users to 4,000,000 in 15 months, and now 35% of daily signups come from their referral programme. Have a look at Dropbox’s presentation for more on how they did this.

  1. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is real – make use of it

Consider your energy bill: “Save £100, switch to our new plan” is enticing, but “Don’t throw away £100, switch to our new plan” is more likely to get your attention and make your switch. Loss doesn’t just have to be monetary though. It can be loss of opportunity, especially in retail if something is low in stock, loss of business, loss of health, the list goes on.

A customer is more likely to do something if not doing so is phrased as a loss rather than a gain: They’re loss averse, and you can use this to your advantage. Try these strategies to take advantage of behaviour:

  • Sales – Highlight that an item is on sale or in the clearance section and the customer will be snapping it up before they’re all gone. Add a stock counter and watch the last few sales come flying in.
  • Vouchers – Having an expiry date on the voucher will push the customer to make a purchase before they miss out on the discount. This will only work if the customer wants that item, so use your customer data to target customers with personalised offers.
  • Limited Time Offers – These are often seen with online e-book sales, “Buy now get extra content free”. If the customer is a little bit interested then this will tip them over the edge; they won’t want to miss out on the extra information.

Want to know more? Here’s a short video with some more information on loss aversion.

  1. Build a bandwagon and your customers will get on it.

You’ve almost certainly heard of the phrase “Jumping on the bandwagon”. It applies to just about everything, from sales to politics, and is the reasoning behind exponential growth. This is easiest to see on viral posts and tweets on social media, where posts can double in interactions within minutes as people join in in expressing their opinion, encouraged by those around who have done the same thing. Once a post passes the viral inflection point it will continue to grow without intervention

Understand this and you’ve got a simple and fantastically effective way to drive customer loyalty and increase demand. Underline your positive feedback and encourage your customers to do the same, boost check ins and social sharing to improve your presence and for a smaller company, place the emphasis on the problem you’re solving, and if the customers think you’re on to something they’ll come.

  1. Build a brand – gain trust

Why is it that Apple release a new phone and it sells out before anyone’s even used it? You already know the answer, it’s because they trust the brand. They’ve built their brand with a history of high quality, beautifully designed and highly functional products, and customers trust this enough to spend thousands on a product without trying it first.

It takes years to grow a brand to this level, but that doesn’t mean you should just give up. Brand loyalty is won by familiarity, so make sure you keep it consistent. It may be tempting to rebrand, but customers are fickle and dislike change. Frequent rebranding risks alienating the customer, as well as losing the customers’ loyalty, who no longer associate the same trust with the new brand.

You can boost your brand identity and trust in your brand by keeping it consistent. Make sure that your colour scheme is exact, always use the same font style and get your logo everywhere, embed it into your e-mail signature and have it on all your content. If you build your brand alongside your product then customers will start to associate the brand, building trust and trust drives loyalty.

If you need to rebrand then do so, but consider the fact that Apple have had one major rebrand since 1977, and that was in 1999 to change the colour of their apple from rainbow to plain white, and Nike have had the Swoosh logo since 1971 and have been using the “Just do it” slogan since 1988. Have a look at this  infographic to understand the importance of your logo design.


Neuromarketing isn’t anything difficult. It’s just taking advantage of standard human behaviour to influence customer purchasing. This article contains just four techniques that you can use to make your marketing more effective, but keep your eyes on this space as we’re going to be writing more posts on this subject, including looking at how you can optimise your advertising campaigns with scientific research.