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Whole Brain Marketing

4peasAll Mixed Up
The most common model for defining Marketing is still the  marketing mix.  This model is also known as the 4 P’s of Marketing – referring to its core elements of Product, Price, Place and Promotion.  The construct was developed by Michigan State professor E. Jerome McCarthy, in 1960, and has since become a staple of every Marketing 101 course on the planet.  However, the reality of Marketing for the last 100 years is that there was a huge emphasis placed on Promotion, and the other three P’s were either an afterthought or the responsibility of another company function.  Somewhere between Marketing 101 and the Marketing department, the marketing mix got mixed up.   Right or wrong, to most people Marketing meant Advertising or some other form of Promotion.  Marketing people used Big budgets to make Big ads to run on the Big 3 networks or in the Big publications and papers.  Get the One Big P right, and the rest would take care of itself.  Those days are long gone.  Now, things like social media, mobile technology, ubiquitous broadband internet access, and cheap data storage are Re-mixing the marketing mix – changing the role of Marketing to one that goes far beyond advertising.

Brand New World
The web has turned us from a world of a few big hits into a world of infinite niches.  What used to be about big is now about closeness.  Brands used to talk, now they must listen.  It is a world where it is not just will you sell your products in a store or on the web, but where out of the trillions of options on the web for will you sell your products.  It is a world where someone is probably giving away the very service you charge for free – as they try to make money with cross-subsidies, advertising, or some other new pricing model.  It is a world where consumers expect offer immediate feedback and expect instant satisfaction.  One big P, ain’t what it used to be.  So what is a good Marketing professional to do? Marketing professionals can take advantage of these trends to become more valuable and lever the good old marketing mix in brand new ways.  It starts with the ones and zeros of data.

Social Media is Data
I love the bold ideals of the social web as much as anyone, if not more.  Yes the new internet is a dialogue not a monologue.  Yes, the modern consumer is empowered like never before.  Yes there are infinite possibilities for communication, innovation, and progress. Yes, the social web changes everything.  Still, something that we often forget is that social media is digital information.  It is data.

Data, by itself is useless. It is noisy.  It is overwhelming.  However data that is aggregated, filtered, placed in context, and analyzed becomes knowledge.  People, through their conversations are generating data like never before.  Your blog – data.  That silly survey about 80’s music on Facebook – data.  The Thumbs Up you gave on that status update on Facebook – data.  The ReTweet of the link to Chris Brogan‘s latest blog post – data.  The review of that book you bought on Amazon – data.  The things you search for, people you connect with, places you use your iphone to take pictures – all data.  Leveraged properly, this data can yield valuable knowledge, serving as the basis for holistic organizational improvements.  This knowledge can be applied to any and all 4 of the Marketing P’s to create something new and exciting.  In this new world of digital conversation, the questions of who, what, where, when, why, how,  how much, how often, and so on can be tracked, measured, and analyzed for insights.  But as a marketer, how do you put it together into something meaningful?

herrmann_whole_brain_model.gifImportant Tangent: Whole Brain Thinking
Developed by Ned Herrmann, Whole Brain thinking combines the concept of right and left brain with that of upper and lower brain thinking.  The result is a model that breaks human thought into 4 color coded quadrants which are as follows:

Upper Left (Blue) – Critical analysis, facts, technical accuracy, data, brief and precise information
Lower Left (Green) – Details, Rules, Steps, Risk Management, Control, Timing, Policy
Lower Right (Red) – Emotions, Community, Culture, Values, Open Discussion, Expression
Upper Right (Yellow) – Metaphors, Big Picture, New Ideas, Innovation, Synthesis, Vision, Future Trends

All people exhibit thinking in all of the color quadrants, but it is likely that an individual gravitates towards one or two of them more strongly.  This orientation is part of what makes you, you.  It can also change over time or in situations of stress, where people often behave in ways that are seemingly different than normal.  My brain happens to skew very heavy toward yellow thinking – and even more so in times of stress.

So why this tangent?  Well, if we know that this is how people think, than whole brain provides a framework for classifying the information we have, want,  or need to collect.  This is how we as individuals communicate and these quadrants represent our individual styles and our contextual tones.  Measuring data in this context is particularly useful when applied to the marketing mix.

whole brain marketing mixMarketing – The Re-Mix

Pick your Marketing P.  Explore the social web and discover what conversations pertain to it?  Are they factual or emotional? (Blue or Red)  Are people happy with your service?(Red) Are people confused by your pricing policies? (blue)  Are people discussing 10 ways to hack your process? (Green)  Are there perceived risks being expressed? (Green)  Are people comparing the complexity of using your product with the ease of the competition in a step by step manner? (Green)  Are these conversations increasing or decreasing? (Blue)  Are they changing in tone? (Red)  Are they offering ideas about your latest promotion? (Yellow)  Are they wishing your product were available through an innovative new way? (Yellow)

Apply these questions and others to your marketing mix then listen to conversations, ask for information, collect data, classify it, measure it, and look for new meaning and opportunity.  Do the same for your competition, your industry, and potentially important trends.  Where are you strong?  Where are you weak?  Where are your opportunities for growth?

Think of the value that could come from simply classifying conversations pertaining to your company, industry, or competition by both the color and the element of the marketing mix.   What is the tone of the conversation?  What is the marketing variable being discussed?  What needs are going unmet?  What conversations are you involved in?  What conversations should you be involved in? What could you do differently to create opportunity? Are certain customer groups or individuals expressing feedback about particular parts of the marketing mix?  What type of feedback are they offering?  Can you leverage your strengths in new ways to meet new needs?  You could even go as far as to graph each P relative to the % of color associated with it.  (Perhaps your price generates a lot of red and blue discussion, while product yields more yellow and green)

With every element of the marketing mix now being vital to success, using the Whole Brain model can help you better understand what people want, why they want it, and what you need to do to help them.   The challenge is now less about a supply of data.  Data is more and more abundant every day.  No the real challenge is converting data into meaningful information about the future of your marketing mix.  Done properly, using Whole Brain thinking can color your thinking in exciting new ways and paint a more vibrant future for your business.