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In marketing, we all too often rely on overused buzzwords without really processing what they mean.  Why are these terms overused? People know what they mean.  

Disruption.

Storytelling.

Influencer.

Even experiential marketing.

These are terms that we use often...but what do they really mean? They seem to have lost their meaning in their overuse.

I was speaking with my creative director, recently, and he really glommed onto something: marketing — well, good marketing, anyway — should tap into three primary functions:

  • Emotions

  • Memories

  • Stimulation

It just so happens that these are all controlled by the limbic system in our brains! So  we began to play with the term limbic marketing.

Toss out all those clichéd buzzwords. We’re bringing a new one to town!

Limbic Marketing

Marketing can deal with just one of those functions (emotions, memories, or stimulation), but when you light up sensors for each, you have a much better opportunity to forge a connection and build trust with your audience.

If you want to sell hamburgers, you appeal to the lizard brain, which seeks to fill basic needs, like hunger. An image of a juicy burger will make mouths water, and you don’t need to do much more.

But what happens if you’re selling a travel destination or a high-end clothing line? You need a different strategy.

If you want to create lifelong customers, market to the limbic system. Become a limbic marketer.

Make the Limbic System Feel Safe and Included

While the lizard brain wants food, water, and shelter, the limbic system wants to feel like a part of something, to belong. Good brands already know this and successfully push the buttons for each of those three functionalities.

To evoke emotions that will build trust in a brand, a retailer might show a dad holding a newborn. Cue tears! Our limbic brain connects heartwarming scenes like this one with a brand that cares.

Memories, too, play a role in limbic marketing. When we have a history with a brand, we’re more likely to buy it again. Maybe you remember your grandma using White Lily Flour to make you biscuits on summer vacations, and so it’s the brand you pick up at the store.

Coca-Cola does a great job of pinging those memories. Who doesn’t see the ubiquitous Coke Santa or just the classic red wrapper and white logo and have some memory from childhood?

We’ve all heard the adage “sex sells,” and it’s true. But stimulation means more than just sex. Consumers can be stimulated by colors, shock factor, or even music. Keep that limbic system on its toes, and you’ll excite your audience.

We can even be stimulated to get up and do something. Outdoor brand REI uses images of people hiking, camping, and generally being healthy in nature, which can stimulate consumers to want to get off of their couches.

All three of these are valid marketing approaches, but what would happen with a powerful one-two-three punch strategy that used emotions, memories, and stimulation?

The next time you’re planning your marketing approach, use limbic marketing and hit each of these functions.