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Everyone has different marketing styles. Sometimes people prefer to create colorful, expressive pieces. Sometimes focusing on the facts seems to be the way to go. Sometimes individuals prefer to do something as uncanny or strange as possible to get customers’ attention.
The individuals looking at these ads have different styles that appeal to them, as well—some prefer to see an original, creative piece, while others would prefer to know the benefits and costs of a product.
These marketing—and buying—styles typically relate to personality, and can specifically be traced to something in psychology known as "right-brained" and "left-brained" personalities.
This is something you have likely heard before, whether it’s been from a psychology class or just perusing the internet. Incidentally, several marketing sites have taken an interest in this idea, as well.
The subject is shown to be one that has, at the very least, been in the back of people’s brains for a while, as shown by an article written by Jason Miller on the subject as it relates to marketing. Recently, Forbes published an article by John Greathouse that specifically focuses on the question of whether right-brained or left-brained marketing tactics will dominate the public sphere.
Whether working in a large or small business, it’s important to know both the value of right-brained and left-brained marketing and how to implement strategies to appeal to both types of personalities. Naturally, you—and your product—will likely be more naturally inclined to one method or the other, and it’ll be up to you to decide which option, or which combination, works best for you.
Before figuring out what marketing strategies work best for each personality type, it’s probably a good idea to explain what each personality type is.
Right-brained individuals lean more toward the creative side of things. These people are dreamers and enjoy a good story or unique piece of art over hard fact and reason.
People with a right-brained personality tend to lean a lot more heavily on their emotions. While this doesn’t mean they are necessarily "heart on their sleeve" type people, this does mean that they are far more invested in something that can sway them on an emotional level, and will likely make decisions on how they feel, emotionally, on a particular subject.
Right-brained individuals are generally more inclined toward language and music.
Someone who is predominantly right-brained would typically be considered more sensitive and creative; more negatively, they may be impulsive.
You may find several examples of right-brained individuals in the world of fiction-writing and music. And if you have a friend who seems to be the "team mom" of the group? Probably a right-brained individual.
For marketing strategies, right-brained individuals are naturally going to prefer something rather creative and original—something that will stand out and catch their attention. A good example of this would be Kit Kat creating a bench that resembled one of their candy bars.
A well-crafted story with an emotional pull will likely appeal well to right-brained individuals. An excellent example is the Budweiser commercial from the 2015 Superbowl. The story is simple enough to fit into a minute commercial—a puppy gets lost, makes his way home, and is saved from a wolf by his Clydesdale friends.
The major impact of the commercial was its emotional appeal. Many right-brained individuals can sympathize with a missing pet, and with the bond of friendship shared between the horse and the puppy. Moreover, the heart-touching act of saving the puppy won over a lot of viewers.
The success of this commercial speaks for itself, as it appeared all over social media after its airing.
The Cesar dog food commercials are also excellent examples of right-brained advertising. Kaat posts one such example on their site.
The commercial involves a man and a dog traveling around a city together. The man picks up some flowers to take to a grave, where the dog offers his hand a comforting lick. Afterwards they return home, and the man feeds his dog Cesar dog food. The commercial ends with the caption “Love them back.”
The advertisement relies on the recognition of the bond between dog and man, as well as the emotional scene at the grave, to encourage consumers to buy the dog food.
Claudine Bianchi speaks of the need for more right-brained marketing. She mentions in her article that receiving an old-fashioned piece of "snail mail" rather than an email advertisement worked better for her because it evoked feelings of nostalgia.
Jason Miller (cited above) lists some helpful ideas on how to focus on right-brained marketing, including commercials that focus on comedy or mini-story and magazine articles that use a lot of colorful pictures, imagery, and more poetic prose.
Verity Meagher seconds the storytelling approach, and also suggests using symbolism or abstract art to attract consumers.
In contrast to right-brained individuals, left-brained individuals tend to be very focused on fact and reason.
The mind of someone with a left-brained individual is very logical, and tends to try and come up with solutions to problems rather than focusing on an emotional response. They respond best to data, statistics, and what would logically be the best choice, rather than to emotional stimulus.
Someone whose personality is predominantly left-brain oriented is very organized, and prefers to focus on reality over idealism.
Left-brained personalities tend to be math- and science-oriented.
Left-brained thinkers tend to be great planners and problem solvers, and, since they are generally not swayed by emotions, won’t likely be turned away from a course of action because of any personal feelings on the subject. On the more negative side, they can potentially come off as colder and cynical because of a focus on facts.
Left-brained individuals are going to prefer something that can prove itself useful, and, in marketing, they are likely looking for something that is definitively better than the competition through statistics and examples.
Good examples of left-brain marketing techniques can be found on the site Left Brain Marketing. The front page has a slideshow that lists the credentials of the professionals working on the site, as well as customer reviews to show that the site has proven quite useful for others in the marketing business.
Verizon has also used quite a bit of left-brain marketing in an effective manner. This commercial is very simple in design, with basic background and a focus on the facts. A chart featuring what areas two different phone companies cover--those being Verizon and Sprint--is behind the two individuals who present them, where Verizon is shown to have a much larger coverage area than Sprint. The advertisement ends with a listing of facts about Verizon’s wireless service.
The commercial relies very heavily on the reasons why someone should logically choose Verizon over Sprint, and the straightforward, factual attempt to convince consumers would appeal to a left-brained audience.
While not a business, environmentalists often use statistics to help point out the harmful effects of global warming. For example, NASA gives statistics—including a graph on how much temperatures have increased over the years—of the things that have changed very rapidly in the modern era due to global warming, and uses facts to predict what will happen due to these changes if they aren’t stopped. Left-brained individuals would have difficulty arguing with the facts presented on the site, and would be more willing to listen to solutions after being given proof.
Much like with right-brained thinkers, Jason Miller has suggestions for appealing to left-brained thinkers. For example, he suggests using billboards to advertise special sales, and specifically showing how much a consumer will save if they buy the product during the sale rather than later.
Verity Meagher comments that, with left-brained thinkers, any images used should be very straightforward in nature; graphs and datasheets are more persuasive to left-brain thinkers than colorful pictures or imagery.
Most individuals—while leaning toward one side or the other in terms of personality traits—have a mix of both sides in their personalities. People who are almost perfectly balanced between the two sides are known as "bridge brains."
John Greathouse mentions in his Forbes article that using both right-brained and left-brained marketing is probably the best way to go. Likewise, Claudine Bianchi states that left-brain thinking has done wonders for the marketing world, but right-brained thinking should also be implemented.
Manny Rivas also encourages the combination of right-brained and left-brained thinking in marketing, and tells a story of an attempt to combine the two thought processes.
His company had obtained a search account which had a lot of creative ideas, but very little that would actually work. His team attempted to allow creativity free-reign at first to generate ideas, then narrowed down their options to ones that would work with the data they had available.
He also says that combining right-brained and left-brained marketing strategies helps produce more predictable marketing results.
Unsurprisingly, using both forms appeals to a wider audience. However, what combination varies between products.
Verity Meagher gives examples of when leaning more to one side or the other would be more effective; fashion designers, for example, would likely be more attuned to right-brained techniques, while coders would likely be more attuned to left-brained techniques.
Combining the two methods of marketing can be surprisingly simple if given some thought. For example, Kevin Beck suggests using infographics to display a large amount of statistics and data in a more appealing manner. Some other suggestions are to use a personal story, but pepper statistics throughout, or have a humorous television ad that also lists the benefits of using the product.
A good example of a combined style would be the Progressive television commercials involving Flo. The commercials include a quirky character and carry a sense of humor that would appeal to a right-brained audience, but also includes information and facts on Progressive’s services that would appeal to left-brained individuals.
Bryony Thomas lists several examples of how to combine left-brain and right-brain marketing. One such case study listed in the article is on a group of information risk consultants known as Ascentor.
The group wanted to prove their services were useful in order to help provide security on business matters. As such, they used right-brained thinking to focus on an emotion-based response, in this case being fear. They then used left-brain thinking in order to implement the plan: they organized a survey on the UK workforce who would be willing to sell out their employer.
The survey proved that over half of employees would do so and was used to persuade Ascentor’s target audience of the need for their services.
Most of the marketing world seems to be in agreement that it is better to combine right-brain and left-brain marketing methods, and with good reason. However, that doesn’t mean leaning heavily toward one method is ineffective, and in the end, the ideal method for you depends on your product and your intended consumer base.