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No behavior lies outside these areas. Of the five drivers, identity is the most powerful, because it's wrapped up with our self-preservation imperatives. But we need relationships to give us more direction in life; for instance, our belief systems and the institutions behind them are a part of relationships. We also need purpose, which is the most ignored of behavior drivers in marketing, particularly with older people. Adaptation is simply the skills we bring to bear to meet our life agendas. And, finally, energy, which is our health and well-being and functional competency.
There are 5 Primary Drivers of All Behavior
CM: Can you tell us why DRM is more effective with the older adult or mature market?
DW: DRM is more sensitive to season of life than other approaches. DRM also has something unique in marketing-a conceptual or theoretical foundation, which can be universally subscribed to, that encompasses the primary drivers of all behavior.
CM: What are those drivers?
DW: There are five:
These drivers are essentially the same for every human being in every place on the globe. They never change from one generation to the next. They are part of our biology, so they can be passed on through our DNA.
So, I consider customer behavior in two contexts: a biological and a psychological context. The psychological context depends on the biological context. For example, getting hungry doesn't start in our psychology, but in our body chemistry. The hankering to make love wells up from our biology, as does feeling lonely and needing a friend, or feeling bored and needing excitement. What we do about these needs is up to our psychology.
The needs and motivations that emerge from biology change by season of life. Young people, for example, are strongly driven by a biological need to perpetuate the species through procreation. This need continues in the second half of life, but it takes on a more altruistic nature-doing things to protect or extend the species, or at least those in our family and immediate community.
CM: What steps does a company need to take to create an effective DRM program or system?
DW: The first step is to see that the people on your team have a better grounding in psychology, especially in human development. The fundamental axiom of DRM is that stages of personal development are the primary underlying source of worldviews-how we connect to the world, not what we believe-and of needs, motivations and general approaches to need satisfaction. Maturational stages also lead to continuous changes in how customers process information mentally. With the knowledge of these and other influences, a company will find that there is much about customer behavior that is quite predictable.
"If we want to get older people's attention, we need to speak to them in language that is evocative of sensory responses"
CM: The premise behind DRM appears to emphasize using word and graphic pictures of experiences people would like to have, rather than telling customers about features, benefits or discounts.
DW: Correct. This approach becomes more salient in second half markets or people ages 40 and over.
As we move into our 40s and beyond, we shift more and more of our mental activities to the right hemisphere, which is the emotional, intuitive side of the brain. The right hemisphere is holistic; it sees the forest better than the trees. The left hemisphere is the tree-seeing hemisphere; it focuses on details. When we talk about features and benefits, we're talking about product details. Older people want to feel right about a company or brand before devoting any left brain attention to analyzing it.
The Importance of Storytelling
CM: Does that mean that the right brain considers a product message before the left brain gets to analyze it?
DW: Simplistically speaking, yes. A marketing message will be submitted to primary information processing (PIP) in the right hemisphere before secondary information processing (SIP) in the left hemisphere. The first thing the right brain wants to determine is the salience of incoming information. The right hemisphere has no language abilities, but deals only in sensory images. So anything that comes into the right brain is evaluated from a sensory perspective, rather than a lexical perspective. Hence, the importance of graphic and word pictures in older markets, because more of their mental process is in the right brain.
If we want to get older people's attention, we need to speak to them in language that is evocative of sensory responses. Storytelling is one of the best ways to do this. This is why we are beginning to see an increase in the use of storytelling in advertising. Storytelling information moves with the grain of the brain. If we start with a feature and benefits claim or a question that someone has to think about to answer, we are going against the grain of the brain and fighting the way the brain naturally works.
CM: Say I own or manage a company, and I have a whole telemarketing division. Do I have to write different scripts for different ages?
CM: And one of the first questions I should ask, or one of the first things I should somehow establish, is the age of the person on the line?
DW: Companies often have this information from advance research. But what you say is also true in research. Research questions should be styled differently for older people than for younger people.
I have a developmental psychologist friend who specializes in cognitive issues in later life. She said that, during one of her studies, she could see the older people visibly discomfited with some of the questions, while the younger people just raced through them checking off this and that. She said it made her aware of how context sensitive older people's cognitive patterns are. Older people would come to a question and would want to say, Well, that depends, or make a similar qualification in their answer. But the instrument did not allow the older person to give any answer but an unconditional answer.
Whatever the problems marketers are facing today, the biggest ones cannot be solved by applying yesterday's solutions
CM: The first question that comes to mind with DRM is money. To implement a behavioral based marketing model into an organization, what type of investment would I need to make?
DW: It's really a reallocation of funds, not new investment. First of all, DRM will help you get better returns on your research dollar.
Keep in mind that nothing is more expensive than money invested in a marketing program that fails. In the end, it isn't a question of whether DRM is cheaper or more expensive. It's a question of whether it's a more effective way. And I think it is.
Wachovia Bank's ad agency brought me in to give them a primer on DRM. They did a campaign based on DRM, which turned out to be the most successful campaign in corporate memory.
CM: What type of results did they experience?
DW: The campaign had the biggest return on dollar investment Wachovia had ever experienced. Wachovia's next two annual reports to stockholders credited the campaign for making a major contribution to Wachovia's continuing growth.
May I end by sharing a couple of my favorite quotes from Einstein that fit the times? First, "You can't solve a problem in the same consciousness in which it arose." Whatever the problems marketers are facing today, the biggest ones cannot be solved by applying yesterday's solutions. The second quote is, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." So, it's time people stop thinking about marketing as just a numbers game.
About the Author
Colin Milner is CEO of the International Council on Active Aging and former President of IDEA Health and Fitness Association.
To read more about Colin Miliner, visit:
Where Have All Our Members Gone? BY: Dennis Keiser
Speaking Their Language By: Colin Milner
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