Very few of our guests have a nickname or a tagline, but Jim Morris does: Tagline Jim. He’s worked as a copywriter and creative director at ad agencies like FCB and DDB Worldwide and as a freelance copywriter for 25 years. Jim is responsible for dozens of successful taglines, including We are Flintstones Kids, Ten Million Strong and Growing, the cornerstone of one of the longest-running ad campaigns of the last half century.
Listen in as we discuss whether taglines have become obsolete with the rise of social media, why they have fallen out of grace with marketers in recent years, and why so many taglines don’t really mean anything. Jim also shares his views on why there is so much bad advertising in the market and the reasons behind it, including the impact of groupthink, lawyers, and neuromarketing in the advertising space.
Learn the common reasons behind bad advertising with Jim Morris, author of BADVERTISING. #advertising #neuromarketing Click To Tweet
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On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:
- Why so many taglines don’t really mean anything.
- Why taglines may have fallen out of style with marketers.
- Jim’s favorite tagline and the one that he regrets writing the most.
- The common reason there is so much bad advertising in the market.
- What a HIPO decision is and how it affects the effectiveness of advertising.
- Why neuromarketing techniques do not always produce better marketing strategies.
Key Resources for Jim Morris:
- Connect with Jim Morris: Website | LinkedIn
- Amazon: Badvertising
- Kindle: Badvertising
- Amazon: Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
- Working Backwards with Colin Bryar
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Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to Brainfluence, where author and international keynote speaker Roger Dooley has weekly conversations with thought leaders and world class experts. Every episode shows you how to improve your business with advice based on science or data.
Roger’s new book, Friction, is published by McGraw Hill and is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bookstores everywhere. Dr Robert Cialdini described the book as, “Blinding insight,” and Nobel winner Dr. Richard Claimer said, “Reading Friction will arm any manager with a mental can of WD40.”
To learn more, go to RogerDooley.com/Friction, or just visit the book seller of your choice.
Now, here’s Roger.
Roger Dooley: Welcome to Brainfluence. I’m Roger Dooley. Very few of our guests have a nickname or a tagline, but Jim Morris does. He’s known as Tagline Jim. He’s worked as a copywriter and creative director at ad agencies like FCB and DDB Worldwide as a freelance copywriter for 25 years.
He’s been a copywriting instructor at Columbia College for 12 years. Jim is responsible for dozens of successful taglines, including, “We are Flintstones kids, 10 million strong, and growing!” The cornerstone of one of the longest running ad campaigns in the last half century.
Jim’s new book is Badvertising, an exposé of insipid, insufferable, and ineffective advertising. Welcome to the show, Jim.
Jim Morris: Thank you, Roger. It’s great to be here.
Roger Dooley: Great. So, Jim, “Tagline Jim,” is more of a nickname. Do you have a tagline too?
Jim Morris: Yes, I do. I do, actually.
Roger Dooley: What is it?
Jim Morris: Well, it was one of the scariest things. When I decided to brand myself Tagline Jim, it became a high pressure thing, because I’ve got to come up with one from myself. I can’t hire somebody else to get me a tagline.
So my tagline is, “Long story short,” because every brand is actually a success story. And so, that’s what the tagline should in some sense do.
Roger Dooley: Well, that’s great. It’s very succinct, but it says what you do. Obviously, a lot of thought went into that. Maybe you can find one for me after we’re off the air here? I could probably use a good tagline.
A lot of taglines feel like buzzword bingo entries, where they incorporate some common phrases that seem significant and resonant, but really don’t say anything. Why is that?
Jim Morris: Well, there are many reasons why. I think these days … This has been true forever, but it’s more so true now than it ever has been, I think. And I think a lot of that is because … My perception is that taglines in the advertising world went out of fashion about 20 years ago or maybe more.
At one time, they were a certain piece of holy grail. That whenever you were going to do an ad campaign, you didn’t have to start with the tagline, but typically that’s what it was, because it would be an encapsulation of the message of your brand.
Over time, especially in this visual age, I think many people running the show in advertising became sensitive to simplifying their message. A lot of that was in terms of a visual simplification. And so, people started questioning the value of a tagline, because you can’t … I hope this doesn’t offend your sensibilities, but you can’t measure the effectiveness of a tagline.
It’s not measurable. I always say it’s invaluable, but it’s not measurable. There’s no way to isolate it and figure out, “What did that get me?” As a result, there was nobody going to argue numbers and stats and facts about keeping a tagline. You either liked them or you didn’t, and far fewer people like them now than did in the past.
Part of that is that most taglines are terrible. And so, a lot of people in advertising … A lot of the biggest names in advertising made the same logical mistake, which is to posit that if 90% of taglines suck, taglines suck. And so, we should get rid of them altogether.
They’re an extraneous element, or they’re an ego stroke for a corporation or something, where they’re not doing any work. And so, people decided that since most taglines were bad, taglines were bad. We’re not going to do taglines anymore. It’s one less element in the mix when we have advertising going on.
Roger Dooley: Right. Well, arguably Jim, a lot of advertising is bad, but we’re still doing advertising. So many though seem to say so little. I love the three word ones where they pick three random words like, “Leadership, learning, success.” Okay, great. That really doesn’t do anything at all to differentiate you.
I would argue, Jim, that in today’s digital world, taglines are potentially more important than ever. Because people show up, for instance at your website, whether it’s on a mobile device or on a computer, and they don’t necessarily know who you are or what you do.
If you fail to answer that question in just a few words, then they’re likely to say, “Okay, well I can’t figure this out,” and move on. So I really think taglines have an important place.
In fact, I’m going from memory here, but it seems like Steve Kruger, who wrote the really amazing book about user experience, Don’t Make Me Think … Which you don’t even have to buy the book, if you just internalize its recommendation … One of his suggestions was that there’d be a very visible tagline, so that people know what you do immediately and don’t have to try and scan up and down the page to figure it out.
Jim Morris: Now, I would take objection to that notion of, “Don’t make me think.” Because where I’ve landed on taglines is that, if they don’t make you think at all, then you don’t even really process them or notice them. They’re invisible, because they don’t have anything to catch onto in your brain.
A tagline needs to make you think a little bit. That’s my argument. It needs to stop your brain for a nanosecond with something that’s either clever, surprising … Something that will catch your brain and make you think for a second, in order for you to force your brain to actually process what’s being said in the tagline.
Roger Dooley: That’s a good point, Jim. Because your little tagline, “Long story short,” you do have to think about it just for a second. Now, it’s not complicated. It’s not a puzzle.
But you’re right. That will make it more memorable, because there’s a lot of research showing that adding just a little bit of cognitive effort to something does make it stick in your mind more.
Jim Morris: Right. Just a little bit. That’s the thing, is that if it gets too complicated, then people … You lose them. That’s the challenge.
Roger Dooley: Jim, you’ve created a lot of taglines … Other than what we’ve already talked about, what is your favorite tagline? Maybe one that you thought was really brilliant, but it didn’t get traction.
What would your favorite tagline be? It’s probably like trying to choose between children, but take a stab at it.
Jim Morris: Well, I have a couple that I’m particularly fond of. One was for … This gets a little complicated, but there’s an organization, NCVEI, which I think is the national commission for veterinary something. I don’t know what. It’s for veterinarians. It’s a website. It provides them with help with their business, so how to run a practice as a veterinarian.
The whole organization is devoted to that, because just because you’re a good as a doctor doesn’t mean you’re good as a businessman. So they’re trying to help you out. They had a page on that that was specifically for giving tutelage to veterinarians, so that they would learn simple … How to keep the books and how to schedule and stuff like that. Just nuts and bolts business stuff.
Long story. My tagline was, “Where veterinarians go to do their business,” which I thought was funny, because that’s what animals do is their business every now and then. What I liked about the tagline was A, it makes you think for a minute. And then, you get the two meanings and that’s good. And B, it probably puts a little smile on your face, which is another goal of a good tagline a lot of times.
Just to give you that little piece of positivity that is now a little bit of an aura around the brand. All of these people are human, the people that have this tagline. They get that something could be funny, and not just all strictly business all the time. It does a lot of work, so I was happy with that one.
I can give you one other one. I did a project for a company that created custom software for businesses. Not off-the-shelf stuff, but they would see what your business need is and create software specifically for your needs and your business. And the tagline went something like … I have to recall it now. It’s, “Software you need that doesn’t exist yet.”
It was a very simple proposition that’s actually an exact description of what they did, but there was something about it that I found interesting. Not typical tagline-y kind of stuff. I’m always going for something that isn’t a typical tagline, like your three word taglines. Or like, in the book, I reference a list of taglines that include the phrase, “For life.”
Ideas for life. Healthcare for life. And there’s like 30 or 40 of them that are all out there right now in the world. “Blah, blah, blah for life,” because everybody’s so in love with playing on that play on words actually. To me, that’s no good. Once there’s a million of them out there, you got to do something else than that. That’s the battle.
Roger Dooley: Well, it’s vaguely positive sounding, there’s a slight pun in there. It’s all good, but as you say, when there’s 50 of them, it’s not so good. Here’s one question that you may choose not to answer.
Did you ever create a tagline that seemed brilliant in the moment, but afterwards you looked at it and said, “Man, I can’t believe that I recommended that one,” or that they went with that one?
Jim Morris: I have written a bad tagline or two. I have. I’ll give you an example. Early in my career, I worked on York Steakhouse, which was an East Coast steak chain, like Sizzler or Ponderosa or one of those kinds of things. York Steakhouse. It was early in my career, so I didn’t have experience with understanding that oftentimes the client doesn’t have a strategic bone in their body.
They can’t get that you need to come up with a single, simple message about your brand. Some overarching benefit or something. They want it to say everything. Most clients want to. They’re so immersed in it. They have so much to be proud of that they want to say it all in the tagline. Don’t use any more than seven words, but tell me everything great about my brand. It was that kind of situation that I didn’t really …
Other copywriters in the group I was in were coming up with much more interesting taglines. But I, not understanding that I need to narrow things down, I gave myself the challenge of getting it all into one short thing. One burst, which turned out to be one word. And that word was, “Bettermorebiggernicer. Bettermorebiggernicer.”
And then, we did a little jingle, which wasn’t very good. That was their tag, and they kept that tagline for a few years. But I came to be embarrassed by it, because it demonstrated my lack of understanding of what a tagline should be. Because that’s just not it.
Roger Dooley: We won’t embarrass you any further, Jim, but that is a great example of maybe not a great tagline. Although if it worked for them for a few years, maybe it wasn’t that bad, even if you don’t remember it that fondly.
Jim Morris: Well, they went out of business. I don’t think it worked that well.
Roger Dooley: Well, hopefully you are not solely responsible for that, Jim. You might want to talk about your book, Badvertising. I found it to be a really fun read. It’s not a dry business book. There’s a lot of humor in it. There’s really a lot to like … Overall, is there an overarching reason why there is so much bad advertising out there?
We see ads that, clearly, we look at them and say, “Well, those aren’t going to work.” We see ad campaigns that maybe people thought were going to work, but didn’t work. They didn’t actually create new customers. Even at the level of Super Bowl ads. It always amazes me that people are going to spend millions of dollars on an ad.
They can afford the market research, they can afford the creative ideas and so on, but somehow the end product still ends up bad. I suppose if you can make a bad $200 million movie, then it’s no surprise you can make a bad $5 million Super Bowl commercial. Is there a single root cause?
Jim Morris: Nope. There is not a single root cause. That’s why the book has identified, just in the book, 23 different reasons why advertising is so bad. And that’s 23 out of … I don’t know how many. I may do a volume two of Badvertising that’s going to come up with another 20. We’ll see. I’ve already got five or six lined up for that. But there’s so many reasons that are overarching reasons, like fear.
There’s so much fear in the business. It’s really hard to put out what could be so-called, “risky.” Which I don’t really buy into the risk thing too much. But to do something a little bit different … Pressure is to not do something different. Even though people pay lip service to it all the time, they want to be somewhat comfortable with the idea.
This is both ad agency, upper executives who are making judgements. And it’s the clients that make this mistake, where they think it’s okay to do an ad if they’ve seen something like that ad already. It reassures them. It’s the same thing in Hollywood. Good luck writing a screenplay that’s not like any other screenplay or not like any other movie you’ve ever seen. They won’t buy it, because it’s not … It’s not what I call, “Examples.”
There’s no examples of it out there, so it scares people. It makes them nervous. They don’t know … They can’t hang their hat on anything. They don’t know what to do with it. And so, that’s one reason you get a lot of really bad advertising. Because people are just hiding behind already existing advertising as a security blanket. That’s a reason.
Roger Dooley: I come at this from a very different angle by talking to conversion optimizers or business optimizers who use data to improve websites, improve mobile apps, improve ads in some cases. They talk about decisions that are HIPPO decisions. Now, I use HIPPO differently. We’ll get into that.
But their use of the word HIPPO is the highest paid person in the organization where, when it comes down to deciding what goes on the webpage, what goes in the ad campaign … It’s not based on anything other than ultimately the big boss.
The highest paid person gets to make the decision. They say, “Okay. Well, we’ve heard good arguments on all sides. This is what we’re going to do.” I’m curious, is that an issue? How do you use HIPPO in the book?
Jim Morris: Yes. It is an issue. I devote a chapter to it, which I call, “Executive blindness,” which has to do with what I think is a pretty pervasive problem at a lot of ad agencies and then a lot of client advertising people. Ad clients. And that is, when you’re up in the upper echelons of companies like this, you are insulated and isolated from the world especially.
Certainly, from your target audience, unless you make some extraordinary effort to make contact or experience what’s going on in the real world. You spend all your time in meetings with people talking to yourselves about the same stuff that has nothing to do with anything. It’s all groundless theory or baseless. It’s nuts. And so, executives are in a terrible position to make judgements about what kind of advertising might be effective.
It’s always going to be a guess. But if you don’t have an informed guess, if you’re not in the trenches with the market research as a tool and so forth … If you’re not that person, but you’re a VP, a senior VP who gets to sit in a review committee and see presented to you 10 or 12 possible ad campaigns for this client … You’ve got to bless one. And then, it becomes a very subjective thing.
You’re not up on all the information that was given, that the ad campaigns are based on. You don’t have time to process all that stuff. You’ve got other stuff to do. You come in and whatever feels … It tickles you, it reassures you, or something like that. That’s how you make your decision. That highest paid person is probably the last person in the company who should be making that judgment, in my opinion. Executive blindness.
Roger Dooley: I think what resonates with that type of person is probably not what resonates with the typical customer, unless you are selling real estate in the Hamptons or something.
Jim Morris: Exactly. Here, I’ll give you an example. There’s, in Chicago, a local window making company. They have a commercial where they have a spokesman who’s, I think, the owner of the company. He’s in every commercial, of course. But I think this is … He must’ve had a dream one night of what heaven would be like or something.
It had to do with a … There’s a scene in the commercial where his truck with windows pulls up in a suburban cul-de-sac or something. The door opens, and people from all up and down the block on their suburban block there look up at this truck and the doors opening. And they all start running to the truck.
It’s like the ice cream, the Good Humor guy, except it’s windows. They have all these people so excited to see this window truck there, which is … I’m just sure it’s just a dream, that this owner wishes that’s how it would be out there in the real world. So he put it in a commercial, but it doesn’t make any sense. No one would do that. It’s so removed from reality that it’s almost embarrassing. To me, anyway.
Roger Dooley: It sounds like something out of a zombie movie, actually.
Jim Morris: Yeah, it does.
Roger Dooley: Zombies swarm out to attack. But I think, maybe related to the executive dominance of a decision, where somebody’s got to decide and so it’s the decider … Do you think there’s a groupthink issue? Where there are people in the room who know this is a bad idea, but one idea seems to have momentum, and so they just go along with it?
We’ve seen that in a variety of decision-making processes. In fact, not too long ago I had Amazon expert, Colin Briar, he was Jeff Bezos’s shadow for a couple of years, on the show. He talked about their decision making processes.
Simply because a presenter could be too effective by doing a PowerPoint presentation and pretty much setting the stage, controlling the flow of the narrative … By the time they’re done presenting everybody is nodding their heads saying, “Okay, that sounds pretty good.”
They deliberately avoid that by doing a reading session for up to 20 minutes before they even start the meeting, where everybody’s working from the same facts and nobody can come to dominate the discussion. But I think that’s pretty rare. Is that an issue?
Jim Morris: It is. To your point, very typically, if you’re presenting an ad campaign … This probably true, like you say, with PowerPoints. You’re in a room with maybe three or four layers, if it’s a big company … Three or four layers of influencers and decision makers up the line. Maybe the CEO or the head of marketing or something might be in. If you’re lucky, they’re in the meeting. And then, their next rung down and the next rung down.
And then, the ad agency presents the advertising idea or ideas. Okay, so the CEO goes, “What do you think Jack?” And looks at the lowest rung guy and wants to hear his take on all this stuff. Well, as somebody once famously said, “No one ever got fired for saying no.”
It’s way easier to find something to pick at than it is to endorse something as, “This, I think, is a really strong idea,” and give reasons why. They don’t usually do that. They usually go, “Well, the word such-and-such might be offensive to somebody,” and they start dancing around with that.
And then, that sets the tone. Then, the next layer up and the next layer up get to give their opinions. And then, the CEO or the director of marketing or whoever gets to make his judgment. He’ll consider what they’re saying, but if the tone has already been set that the first three underlings are critical of all the work or whatever … Pretty sure the CEO, he doesn’t usually disagree with them.
He usually uses that as protection for him, so that he can turn it down. Now, why that’s the goal, I don’t really know. But it seems to be … I think the goal would be to buy some good advertising, but oftentimes it doesn’t seem like that’s on the agenda.
Roger Dooley: Something I’ve talked about in the past, written about, is the effect of lawyers and compliance executives and similar people and their negative effect on customer experience. Because they have important jobs. They have to be sure that the company doesn’t get sued or getting legal trouble.
There’s no question that their function is very important, but sometimes they seem to wield an outsize influence. It ends up … My typical venue for complaining about this is customer experience, where somehow the customer experience is slowed down by various hoops. The customers have to agree to lengthy terms and conditions, when maybe you don’t really have to do it.
One website that I visit, literally every time I log in, I have to click a check box saying that I accept their terms and conditions, which as far as I can tell, they don’t change every week.
But things like this, that they want to be absolutely sure that nobody can ever say they didn’t see the terms and conditions. They also have an effect beyond those benign customer experience slowdowns. Talk a bit about the effect on advertising.
Jim Morris: Right away, my mind goes to … Just to keep it simple, a lot of recent experiences that I’ve had with rebranding. Companies coming up with a new brand name and often a new tagline. If it’s a big company, they will eventually land on something everybody agrees on. “We like this,” and then it has to go to the lawyers. You know when I hear, “It goes to the lawyers,” I hear the death knell, basically.
But I try to keep my mind open. Because the lawyer’s job is to identify risk. One way or another, that’s what they’re doing. Identifying risk. There’s always risk. So whatever the lawyer is going to say, if the client wants to hear that risk thing as an excuse to not do it or to change it in some way that makes it less effective or whatever, it’s there for them.
The lawyers always provide you cover if you need it, if you’re feeling nervous about a new name or a new tagline. Because a new name … Well, you check trademarks and this and that. “Yes, there’s another company with that name. They’re operating out of South Africa and they’re in a completely different business category.” Chances are almost nil that there’s going to be any overlap in your potential client base and all that.
But if the client is a very risk averse person, then they don’t want to hear that from the lawyer. As a result, a lot of times these processes go on for an extraordinary amount of time. You spend a lot of money, you come up with a new brand name. It’s important, that brand name. But ultimately, I keep on saying to people … And they don’t want to hear this.
Your brand name doesn’t really matter that much, because it comes to mean what you are, what the experience of your business is for your customers. That’s what your brand name comes to mean. The word stops meaning what you’re hearing it meaning right now, because it’s actually just a symbol representing your company and your brand. Don’t worry so much about it. But nobody wants to hear that.
Roger Dooley: Well, I would argue, Jim, in the case that you cite … That is less a failure of the lawyers or compliance people or similar, and more an executive failure. Because you think of the CEO’s role in a merger agreement. The lawyers are going to come up with 500 things that could go wrong in the merger and say that we have to demand these points.
Ultimately, a CEO that wants to get the deal done is going to say, “Okay, these are the things that we cannot negotiate on, because they are really important and there’s high business risk there.” But then they’re also going to say, “Look, yes, this is a risk,” like you point out, the trademark holder in some far away place, “but that’s a business risk that we’re willing to accept.”
And I think that the companies, the brands that have these bad customer experiences, or perhaps maybe watered down advertising, is because there has not been an executive willing to take responsibility for assessing the risk. Instead they say, “Well, that’s what the compliance folks say.” “Well, legal folks said we had to do this.” As a result, the customers suffer or the ad campaign suffers.
Jim Morris: And so, the business suffers, ultimately. I know. That’s true, and I agree with you. It’s not the lawyers or the compliance people. It’s not their fault. Their job is to point out risk and give you a sense of what the degree of risk is. It really is whoever the executive is that’s going to either yay or nay this thing, to understand that that’s the case and that there’s always a risk.
And decide whether this degree of risks they’re telling me we’re taking, whether it’s, as you say, acceptable or not. That’s a hard, hard thing to do. And so, too many people in that position cop out and just hide behind the people. It’s not their fault. I don’t blame the lawyers. That’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s their job. It’s messy.
Roger Dooley: Jim, one of my own taglines might be, “The neuromarketing guy,” and not really a tagline, maybe more of a nickname. But you have a chapter about how neuromarketing is one source of bad advertising. Now, the reason people started thinking about neuro-marketing was to avoid bad advertising.
In other words, they recognize that focus groups don’t really tell you what you want to know. Asking people questions is a dubious way to find out what they really think and really like. So let’s get to the root of it, and look into their brains. But you make the point that neuromarketing techniques, consumer neuroscience if you prefer, does not always produce better advertising. Now, explain why you think that is?
Jim Morris: All right. Well, this is a little touchy, because I know you. You have a whole book about it.
Roger Dooley: I wrote this in, Jim. Go for it.
Jim Morris: Well, again, I need to always preface this by saying, I am not an expert in this field of neuromarketing and neuroscience. I’m not an expert. This is just my take from where I stand, which is between two worlds here. If you look at traditional marketing research, you’re right. It’s flawed in that it depends on first-person reports from customers, and asking about how they’re thinking, feeling, reacting, choosing.
They don’t always tell you the truth to begin with, because they think you want to hear something else. Even if they do tell the truth, they don’t know, because … I totally concede that your brain is busy processing and deciding stuff independent of your conscious thought process.
A lot of times your brain’s already made the decision, “Yes, I want to buy this,” let’s say. And then, your conscious thought process has to catch up with that, and usually will build a rational basis for that decision that your brain’s already made based on emotion. It’s a complicated problem.
But my contention about neuromarketing in the stricter sense of depending on FMRIs and all kinds of brain imaging … You stick a person in a machine, you expose them to an ad, or a word or impression, a visual, whatever it is … And have their brain react to it. They’re not doing anything. They’re in this machine looking at something.
And then, the brain takes pictures of what’s going on activity-wise in the brain. If there’s brain activity, it lights up, which is already flawed, because all that means is the blood supply to that part of the brain increased. That’s what that means. And then, at that point, the neuromarketers start interpreting and assuming and stuff like that in all kinds of ways that I think are not yet warranted.
It’s too early in the process. The neuroscientists can’t figure out how the brain works yet. Why would the neuro marketers be ahead of the neuroscientist, when they’re borrowing on that science in a very superficial way? If an area of the brain lights up and you go, “Well, that’s the fear thing in the amygdala,” or whatever it is, “so that must be that they’re afraid.”
We need to tone that down or dial it up or down so that it doesn’t de-motivate them, that fear. Whatever, something like that. But it’s not necessarily a fear. It could be one of several other kinds of emotional aspects that go on in that same part of the brain. Plus, they go on in other parts of the brain too, which also may light up, and they may or may not even see that.
Depending on the nature of the imaging, you’re not getting necessarily a picture of every square inch, cubic inch of the brain and where things are lighting up. So it’s inaccurate in that way. And then, there’s the quality of emotion, which I don’t think … My impression is that the brain science doesn’t really get the quality of emotion.
Something can feel more or less scary, or more or less humorous or reassuring or whatever the emotion is that’s going on. And it can feel it in different … The felt experience can exist in a range of types of emotion. There isn’t just fear, there’s anxiety. There isn’t just anxiety either. There’s this whole continuum of emotions like that.
And it seems like the ultimate hubris, what I call, ad hubris, to think that from this image on your brain, you can extrapolate that much information and make decisions based on it. My opinion, one man’s opinion, we’re kind of in transition right now. I think we need the traditional marketing research for what it can get us.
Because all the knowledge up until now that we have gained about people’s behavior and thinking and all that has been from marketing research, however flawed it might be. We have still learned stuff. Your books are full of stuff we’ve learned. Not necessarily from neuromarketing, because some of them we learned 30, 40 years ago before there was neuromarketing.
I think we’re between traditional marketing, which gets you so far, and then neuromarketing, which is in its infancy. We just need to understand the limits right now, the constraints that come from that, and try not to give too much credence to what we’re learning and interpreting from this. We have to be cautious about that, because otherwise we’re just making up stories, which is what we’re doing anyway.
Roger Dooley: Well, Jim, I think you’ve hit on a couple of the limitations of neuromarketing historically. Where one is, you can capture this data about brain activity, whether you do it by FMRI, EEG, or biometrics or some other way … The difficult part is interpreting what exactly that means. First, at a gross level sense, “Okay, we see that. Is that fear? Is that excitement? Who knows?”
I think the practitioners would say that they do know after all their research, but I think that’s one level. And then, also the finer gradations. Okay, “Well, we’re seeing this, but how intense is that?” And so, those are definitely some things that companies in the space are trying to address. There isn’t that much published academic data on it yet that really conclusively shows exactly how this works.
I think that many companies in the space will say, “Okay, well, we know how it works.” I’m hoping that by Badvertising 2, maybe at that point there’s more data out that make neuromarketing seem a little bit more reliable. In fact, one recent development that’s pretty exciting is that there is a technology that uses smartwatches and mobile phone apps, smartphone apps, to conduct studies, which if nothing else will give us a lot of data scale.
Instead of a relatively small number of subjects in complicated machinery in a lab setting, we will get data from much more realistic environments where people are wired up, but just behaving normally in normal environments. And also be able to get, instead of a few dozen data points, get thousands of data points.
Maybe that will be the key to conclusively saying, “Okay. Well, now these are the things that neuromarketing can do for us. And maybe these things, we can’t expect it to do.” Jim, how can people find you and your ideas?
Jim Morris: The book is available. You can go to my website taglinejim.com, and there’s a page that will send you … Anything you find will send you to ultimately to Amazon or to Barnes and Noble. I think there might be one or two other retail-y websites where you can find it, but those are the main ones.
It might be at your bookstore, but I couldn’t tell you. I have no idea. I’m finding this publishing a book thing to be a mystery. It is because, how are sales? I have no idea. I don’t know. How’s the book doing? I have no idea.
Roger Dooley: It can be mysterious. Well, we will link to there and any other resources we spoke about on the show notes page at rogerdooley.com/podcast, where we will have audio, video, and text versions of this conversation. Jim, thanks for being on the show and good luck with the book.
Jim Morris: It’s been my pleasure, Roger. Thanks very much.
Thank you for tuning into this episode of Brainfluence. To find more episodes like this one, and to access all of Roger’s online writing and resources, the best starting point is RogerDooley.com.
And remember, Roger’s new book, Friction, is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and book sellers everywhere. Bestselling author Dan Pink calls it, “An important read,” and Wharton Professor Dr. Joana Berger said, “You’ll understand Friction’s power and how to harness it.”
For more information or for links to Amazon and other sellers, go to RogerDooley.com/Friction.
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