No matter if your hear "Yanny" or "Laurel", one thing we all can learn from this week's social debate is that the human brain has a magical way of constructing what we hear, see, and even feel. And this has huge implications for marketing.
I wrote about this same topic 3 years ago during #DressGate. The premise (and science) is the same: our brains are deciding for us.
The Yanny/Laurel sound clip features a noisy mix of frequencies. Some peoples' brains pay more attention to the higher frequency sounds and, as a result, hear "Yanny." Meanwhile, the lower frequencies sound like "Laurel."
What each of us hears depends on what our brain is paying attention to. Some people, who try really hard to think about what they are hearing (thereby changing their brain's expectation) can interchange between hearing Yanny and Laurel.
The official term for this is constructionism. Our brains use multiple sensory inputs, past experience, and the social constructs we've learned to decide what we should think, do, or feel next.
So, what's a marketer to do with this science on decision-making?
When a customer sees your logo, reads the first word of your headline, or waits for your webpage to load, their brain is instantly at work. In a fraction of a second their brain has already received a signal and decided if it's worth paying attention to or not.
If their brain has negative associations with your logo color (because their mom dressed them in too much green when they were little), takes offense by the first word of your headline, can't make easy sense of what you're communicating, or is too impatient to wait for your page to load, it quickly moves them onto something else.
They click your competitor's link, abandon your web page, or get distracted by the latest FaceBook notification on their phone. The full message you were hoping to get across never makes it to the cognitive and rational part of the brain (the Prefrontal Cortex).
In essence, the bulk of all consumer decisions happen subconsciously. Brain scans can even detect decisions 7 seconds before you are consciously aware that you made them.
As marketers we typically think about our audiences in terms of demographics, titles, and segments. But to connect with audiences the way you intended – and before their brain has them turning their head the other direction – it's important we understand the memories and emotions driving our audience's subconscious mind. Then, we need to tailor our messages accordingly.
Your target market is filled with both Yannys and Laurels. As a marketer, its your job to figure out how to emotionally connect with each of them.
To learn more about how to uncover the psychological drivers for your audience, download our eBook Capturing the hearts and minds of B2B decision makers.