The number one rule any marketer or business owner can realize when they have a product or service is that in the end we really just care about ourselves. Even if someone chooses to give their life in support of a cause ultimately we are motivated by selfish altruism. This is slightly misleading because it doesn’t deal with the acts of charity, ethics, and why we all don’t just go around killing each other. But in the end we do nice things to really get what we want.
Marketer Ben Mack said once in talk I saw “Make the customer your hero”. I like this saying. He attributed this insight to his ability to help a Yo-Yo company sell over a billion dollars in it’s new threaded device. Aren’t we all heroes in our own mind?
I’d go so far as to say we already have multiple universes. The multi-verse that scientists are still arguing about already exists. It exists and it measures just over 6 billion of them. The ME universe or (if you prefer the ME3601 universe). More expansive than the Milky Way and even more mysterious. Each one of us has our own universe that begins the day we are born.
Sure we can classify experiences, actions, and even facial coding as so eloquently displayed in Paul Ekmans book Emotions Revealed– but in the end behind those windows to the soul is a separate functioning ecosystem. An ecosystem that has one goal and one purpose– serve the insistent need of the host.
We See We Do, You Do I Feel
Although we care about ourselves the most what opens up a can of worms of the psyche is what is called mirror-neurons. These so-called empathy neurons—allow human being and other species to feel the experience through observation. If I observe a spider going up your arm I’m going to get a creepy feeling. Biologists and cognitive neuroscientists are starting to prove that we are actually soft wired to experience another persons plight as if we are experiencing it ourselves. (Animate, 2010).
These findings are changing some thoughts on motivations. If you’ve spent any amount of time studying the art of marketing you’ve most likely come across Maslow’s Heirechy of needs. As a recap these needs are the human desire to fill physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization needs.
Recent discoveries point to our first need of actually wanting to belong. At an early age (a few days) we have empathic distress. Picture one baby in a nursery and one baby cries—the other babies will cry in response. They just don’t know why—that’s empathic distress.
The implications for marketing run deep here. Not only do you have to play to the empathetic qualities of your target market but you also have to find a way to stroke the hidden narcissistic bent. While you might find those to be competing views it’s not quite an oil and water mix. It’s more like carbonated water.