Neuromarketing For Small Business Owners

Business owners often make decisions based on instinct and informally-gathered data, but columnist Chris Marentis suggests they could take it a step further by understanding buyer psychology.


Growing up in a family that ran an HVAC business and watching my father at work, I observed his uncanny ability to understand, time and time again, the core of what each customer really wanted. The business succeeded due to his knack for reading each customer, asking the right questions and knowing how they made their decisions.

Successful small business owners are good at anticipating when customers need new products. When companies started using computers in the 60s, they needed large rooms that were air conditioned, and the term “Computer Room Air Conditioning” was introduced. My father was innovative and started installing these Computer Room Air Conditioners.

At that time, that was a decision he made based on instinct. Even today, many small business owners make business decisions based on instinct and maybe testing a few choices with their customers.

What if the small business owners could understand how humans make decisions and the role the brain plays in this process?

This field of study is called neuromarketing, and several strides are being made in this space at this time by academics and large enterprises spending on research. Adding these learnings to your arsenal empowers you to make data-backed decisions in conjunction with the social intelligence businesses have always relied on.

The aim of neuromarketing is to use evidence gathered from modern studies, experiments, psychology and other scientific knowledge about the brain to reveal its reaction to various stimuli, then to leverage that data to determine how customers are impacted by aspects of marketing.

The gathered knowledge is then applied with the intention of eliciting certain responses from marketing activities. In other words, it is the science of predicting and understanding buyer behavior.

How To Take Advantage Of Neuromarketing

There are a few key ways that small business owners can benefit from neuromarketing. It starts with being able to find the research. Some firms that serve enterprise organizations publish some of their more general research in public.

While they raise awareness of their ability to apply this research, you get cost-effective access to the articles and whitepapers they release.

For example, Nielsen has a resources section in the Consumer Neuroscience section of their website where you can read things like summaries of their latest neuroscience study results. There are also several authors, some of whom are scientists working in this field, who have published works. Amazon has a section in its marketing and sales section devoted to consumer behavior.

If you’re looking to read some of these studies in their original form, a search in Google Scholar for Neuromarketing, neuroscience, marketing psychology or consumer behavior is another good place to start.

Once you’ve found a few sources for studies and have looked at their results, you’ll want to do some testing of those concepts on your own.

But how do you figure out where to start?

Writing for, Neil Patel gives these three neuromarketing tips:

  1. Affect as many senses as possible.
  2. Target emotional responses.
  3. Focus on relieving pain more than emphasizing pleasure.

Some examples of applying this advice to business are:

  • Apartment lobbies sporting a pleasant fragrance in addition to beautiful decor, affecting multiple senses.
  • Small retail businesses giving away lollipops to kids, and some banks offering bagels and coffee on Saturday mornings to target emotional responses.
  • A homeowners’ insurance website using imagery of a flooded or burned down home to target visitors’ pain points and inspire action.

As the British philosopher Jeremy Bentham said, “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure.”

When customers look at products and services, they look at pain avoidance much more than gaining pleasure. Think about this aspect when talking to your customers about your product or services.

Testing Neuromarketing On Your Website

Two universal needs of every business are better sales copy and lead capture — few businesses want fewer sales or leads. If you have those needs, testing changes on your website is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to find out what works.

Test phrase ideas and combinations like “Get this Offer” vs. “Don’t miss out on this offer.” Don’t change too many elements on the website at once; otherwise, it will be hard to track which changes did well vs. which ones failed. My team is constantly doing these tests with email subject lines and data derived from the opens and clicks.

Here are some elements on a website that you could consider changing to see results:

  • Number of choices on a page.
  • The picture of the product.
  • Changing from a static picture to video.
  • Decreasing the number of product choices.
  • The size of the headline.
  • Color sets in the website design.

Neuromarketing doesn’t have to be a risky choice for small businesses. If you use research that has already been documented, you can mitigate most of the costs. And by using techniques such as A/B testing, you can limit any risk change brings, while at the same time maximizing the benefits.

Neuromarketing can be an esoteric subject when you’re a small or medium-sized business trying to keep things moving. But if you’re looking for new ways to bring in happy customers and give them a more pleasant shopping experience, it could be worth a try.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

(Some images used under license from


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