Friday, October 9, 2015


At startups, it’s easy for leadership to connect with employees—they often just need to shout out to someone two desks down. But when companies grow beyond a few dozen employees, staying connected becomes a challenge.
Brad Rencher, senior vice president and general manager of Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, was struggling to find an effective way to communicate with the employees he oversees, and traditional methods weren’t working.
"There are too many emails and conference calls, and while these tools play a role in getting things done, they don’t resonate with all of a company’s objectives," he says. "We wanted to find a way to get everyone aligned and enlisted in the company vision."
So Rencher created Bradchat, a weekly vblog modeled after the web series Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis, where Rencher shares strategies and information, and interviews other Adobe leaders.
"It’s fun, informative, and irreverent, and it gives employees a sense of our personalities; those things don’t come across in the written word," he says.
Employees can leave comments within the video, participate in online forums, or contact Rencher directly via email, and all three have greatly improved engagement. "My email traffic jumped dramatically, and we’re getting thoughtful questions on the content within Bradchat," he says. "I feel like I am connecting personally, and it gives me an opportunity to really embrace what it means to embody Adobe values."
Bradchat is just one example of innovative ways leaders at large companies connect with employees. Here’s how nine other executives have improved engagement within their workplace:


Mark Dankberg, CEO of the broadband services and technology company ViaSat, started Mark D’s Book Club, where employees can read books on business, strategy, leadership, and innovation. The idea was started as a way for the company’s global team to learn the same business concepts and language, think strategically together, and exchange ideas.
"It has become a way for the ViaSat employees to better know how we think, how we view the world, and how we make decisions," says Dankberg. "And it helps each employee be more prepared in shaping their own career development."


When Indra Nooyi was named CEO of PepsiCo in 2006, she discovered the sense of pride her parents had at her accomplishment when they began inviting people over to meet her when she would visit.
"It dawned on me that all of my executives who worked for me are also doing a damn good job, but I’d never told their parents what a great job their parents had done for them. I’d never done that," she told Fortune magazine in 2014. So Nooyi wrote them letters. "I said, 'Therefore, I’m writing to thank you for the gift of your son, who is doing this at PepsiCo, and what a wonderful job this person is doing.’"
Nooyi says she was surprised when parents wrote back, and the gesture created emotion and loyalty.


Harry Herington, CEO of information service provider NIC Inc., increases employee engagement by visiting NIC branches across the company via motorcycle. He calls his initiative "Ask the CEO," and the idea was born to foster open communication within the company in the aftermath of the 2001 Enron scandal. 

"How do you get someone to trust you? You look them in the eye," says Herington, who hosts a dinner during his visit where the employees can ask him business and nonbusiness questions.


Meg Whitman sent a message to Hewlett-Packard employees when she became CEO in 2011, and immediately got rid of the executive suite of offices. Leaders were relocated to cubicles throughout the office.
Kegan Schouwenburg, CEO of SOLS, the New York City-based startup that creates 3-D-printed orthotic insoles, doesn’t believe in the C-suite either. She maintains a connection with her employees by sitting with them.
"A CEO has to serve the team, and it’s important to me to be present and not isolate myself," she says. "Sitting alongside my colleagues allows unfettered exchange of ideas and collaboration, and preserves the culture we’ve worked so hard to cultivate."


Charles Phillips, CEO of the software company Infor, calls his management approach "flat," and he provides his cell phone number to all Infor employees, encouraging them to call or text when they wish.
This informal style of engaging employees not only inspires more direct interaction among the entire workforce, but helps to break down traditional notions of hierarchy.


Mark Josephson, CEO of Bitly, connects with his employees on a daily basis by sitting at the tables and desks throughout the company office, but it’s his Cocktails & Dreams meetings where he finds some of the best engagement. Every week, someone is nominated to be a bartender and everyone in the company grabs a drink together. The casual setting gives Josephson a chance to update the staff on the current happenings, goals, and wins.
"We meet weekly to share updates and progress as a company. We celebrate wins and acknowledge losses. It's ultimately a great way to recap the week and set the stage for the following week," he says.


Alexia Bregman, cofounder and CEO of the natural energy drink company Vuka, looks for innovative ways to connect with employees, and one thing she and her cofounder/husband Darian Bregman did was to implement WOMP, which stands for What’s On My Plate.
Each employee meets weekly with Bregman to create a to-do list. "We don’t really mind where or when these are completed, but when we meet the following week, we look at that list again and see how each individual employee is doing," Bregman says. "It’s a great way of giving employees autonomy while still staying on top of what they’re doing without micromanaging."


While some CEOs grab a beer with their staff, Andrew Fingerman of PhotoShelterbrews it. Each month, he purchases supplies and team members stay in the office after hours to "move the beer along."
There's a huge benefit to making beer together, Fingerman says: "Because group members range across teams and seniority, inevitably we talk about work challenges and ideas," he says. "We also get to know each other as friends. It brings us closer together, and some very innovative ideas have emerged."


Cohesive teams are like Italian families, says Brent Smart, CEO of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi New York. Each month, he selects 20 employees across all departments for a "family dinner" followed by drinks and karaoke. The casual setting helps staff members get to know Smart as well as each other on a more personal basis.
"An Italian family dinner is a metaphor for the type of culture we need at Saatchi to be a great creative agency," says Smart. "Everyone around one big table, different disciplines and talent surrounding a business problem, lots of debate, opinions, and passion."


Nihal Parthasarathi, CEO and cofounder of CourseHorse, a New York-based company that connects people with classes in their area, wanted to create a team environment, and he decided games were the fastest way to bonding.
Every week, the team gathers in Washington Square Park or Central Park to play lawn and board games, such as bocce, KanJam, Cards Against Humanity, and Settlers of Catan.
"I’ve discovered the best way to connect personally with employees is through gameplay," says Parthasarathi. "It creates a fun environment and levels the playing field so we can just connect as people."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

20 minuten

Diesen Arbeitern macht niemand was vor

Diesen Arbeitern macht niemand was vorTalent, Geschick und Routine sind unschlagbare Faktoren, wenn es um tüchtiges Handwerk geht. Die Protagonisten dieses Videos haben alle drei.

Posted by 20 Minuten on Friday, 18 September 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

30 Inspirational Quotes From Billionaire Mark Cuban To Lead You To Success


Mark Cuban is a billionaire American businessman and investor. He owns Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures, the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, and is one of the “shark” investors on the popular TV show “Shark Tank.”
Here are some words of wisdom from the successful Mark Cuban to lead you to success.

He speaks about persistence:

1. “Every no gets me closer to a yes.”

2. “It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed. You only have to be right once.”

3. “It’s not about money or connections. It’s the willingness to out work and out learn everyone. And if it fails, you learn from what happened and do a better job next time.”

4. “It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and neither should you. All you have to do is learn from them and those around you because all that matters in business is that you get it right once. Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are.”

He gives advice about customer service:

5. “It is so much easier to be nice, to be respectful, to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and try to understand how you might help them before they ask for help, than it is to try to mend a broken customer relationship.”

6. “Treat your customers like they own you – because they do.”

7. “What makes a good salesperson? Let me be clear that it’s not the person who can talk someone into anything. It’s not the hustler who is a smooth talker. The best salespeople are the ones who put themselves in their customer’s shoes and provide a solution that makes the customer happy.”

He talks about having a strong work ethic:

8. “Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.”

9. “I worked hard and smarter than most people in the businesses I have been in.”

10. “In sports, the only thing a player can truly control is effort. The same applies to business. The only thing any entrepreneur, salesperson or anyone in any position can control is their effort.”

11. “What I’ve learned is that if you really want to be successful at something, you’ll find that you put the time in. You won’t just ask somebody if it’s a good idea, you’ll go figure out if it’s a good idea.”

12. “There are no shortcuts. You have to work hard, and try to put yourself in a position where if luck strikes, you can see the opportunity and take advantage of it.”

13. “I love to compete. To me, business is the ultimate sport. It’s always on. There is always someone trying to beat me.”

14. “I still work hard to know my business. I’m continuously looking for ways to improve all my companies, and I’m always selling. Always.”

15. “It’s not in the dreaming, it’s in the doing.”

16. “Relaxing is for the other guy. I may be sitting in front of the TV, but I’m not watching it unless I think there is something I can learn from it. I’m thinking about things I can use in my business and the TV is just there.”

17. “Companies don’t fail for a lack of cash or attitude. Companies fail for a lack or brains and effort.”

18. “What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur? It takes willingness to learn, to be able to focus, to absorb information, and to always realize that business is a 24/7 job where someone is always out there to kick your ass.”

19. “One thing we can all control is effort. Put in the time to become an expert in whatever you’re doing. It will give you an advantage because most people don’t do this.”

He mentions doing what other people are scared of:

20. “Always wake up with a smile knowing that today you are going to have fun accomplishing what others are too afraid to do.”

He advises you to love what you do and to become obsessed with it:

21. “Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession.”

22. “Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world. Love what you do or don’t do it.”

23. “Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.”

24. “If you’re prepared and you know what it takes, it’s not a risk. You just have to figure out how to get there. There is always a way to get there.”

25. “What I’ve learned is that if you really want to be successful at something, you’ll find that you put the time in. You won’t just ask somebody if it’s a good idea, you’ll go figure out if it’s a good idea.”

He values originality:

26. “I create offbeat advice; I don’t follow it. I rarely take third-party advice on my investments.”

27. “What I do know, at least what I think I have learned from my experiences in business, is that when there is a rush for everyone to do the same thing, it becomes more difficult to do. Not easier. Harder.”

28. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

29. “When you’ve got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?”

He advises to push past fear:

30. “Don’t let fear be a roadblock.”

11 Differences Between Busy People And Productive People

Back to the office

I spent a day with the world’s number one ultraman Kilian Jornet back in 2010. He told me about the difference between his life in the mountains and the life he sees in the city.
Kilian spends most of his life in the mountains. He will run up and down Everest next year. He has already run up and down Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Montblanc and Cervino (setting the record for the fastest ascent on each). He says that he knows his destination, but is often doubtful about the exact path – he is very aware of surroundings, of changes in the weather, of loose rocks. He is constantly adjusting his path.
He told me that a few times a year he arrives into the city of Barcelona in his campervan. He parks. He gets out. He sees people walking confidently up and down the street. Everyone is walking with such confidence. They look so sure in their intention. They are sure of their steps… but they have no idea where they are going.
This is one of the differences between busy people and productive people. Read on to find out what this difference is and to get to know 10 more differences.

1. Busy people want to look like they have a mission. Productive people have a mission for their lives.

Busy people hide their doubt about the destination of their lives by acting confident in their little steps.
Productive people allow others to see the doubt in their little steps because they are clear on the destination.

2. Busy people have many priorities. Productive people have few priorities

Nobody is ever too busy, if they care they will make time. Life is a question of priorities. If you have 3 priorities, you have priorities. If you have 25 priorities, you have a mess.
The pareto priniciple is that 80% of your desired results come from 20% of your activity. Henry Ford built a fortune not by building better cars, but by building a better system for making cars. Busy people try to make better cars, productive people develop better systems for making cars.

3. Busy people say yes quickly. Productive people say yes slowly

Warren Buffet’s definition of integrity is: “You say no to most things”.
If you don’t say “no” to most things, you are diving your life up into millions of little pieces spread out amongst other people’s priorities. Integrity is that your values are clear and that your time is going to serve those values.

4. Busy people focus on action. Productive people focus on clarity before action

To focus on the top 20% of activities, you must gain clarity about what those activities are for yourself. The greatest resource you will ever have to guide you to live a good life is your own personal experience – if well documented. Sadly, most people only document their life in facebook status updates. Keep a diary and take 5 minutes every day to reflect on the past day, on what worked, on what didn’t work; and some time on what inspires you.

5. Busy people keep all doors open. Productive people close doors

As a young person it is good to open options. It is good to want to travel, to learn languages, to climb mountains, to go to university, to work in tech, to live in another country. However, there comes a point in life where one must let go of most options and focus. If my goal this year is to learn spanish – I will speak spanish at the end of the year. If my goal this year is to speak spanish, earn 30% more, travel to 10 countries, get fit, find a girlfriend, go to all the concerts… I will not speak spanish at the end of this year.

6. Busy people talk about how busy they are. Productive people let their results do the talking

Stephen King says: “A writer is a producer of words. Produce words: you are a writer. Don’t produce words: you are not a writer”.
It is a clear binary thing. Talking about writing is not writing. Published authors don’t talk about their next book – they are focussed on producing it. I have grown to have less and less interest in what people tell me that they are going to do – I ask them what they have already done. Past performance is the only good indicator of future performance.
Feeling productive is not the same as being productive. This is important. I can feel productive while I’m playing minecraft. I can feel unproductive while I’m producing an excellent blog post that will help others take better actions.

7. Busy people talk about how little time they have. Productive people make time for what is important

Any time we spend on excuses is time not spent on creation. If you allow yourself to practice excuses, you will get better and better at excuses. Productive people don’t use time as an excuse. An action either supports their highest values and mission, or it does not. If it does not, they don’t do it – even if they have a whole day off.
There is an Irish saying: “It is better to do something than nothing”.
This is a lie! It is better to do nothing than to do an action that doesn’t connect with your highest values. Sit still.

8. Busy people multitask. Productive people focus

Productive people know about focus.
Do you know about the Pomodoro technique? It is brutal, but it is effective. Identify a task to be done (for instance, write this blog post). Set a timer to 20 minutes. Work on the task until the time sounds. Any distraction (I must check email, I must get some water, I must go to the bathroom) and you reset the timer to 20. How many pomodoros can you complete in a day?

9. Busy people respond quickly to emails. Productive people take their time

Email is a handy list of priorities. The problem: they are other people’s priorities, not yours. If you respond to every email, you are dividing up your life into a thousand tiny bits that serve other people’s priorities.
There are 3 choices when you first review your email inbox: Delete, Do, Defer. This is not a post on email management, here are a few on managing email overload from GigaomHarvard Business ReviewEntrepreneur.

10. Busy people want other people to be busy. Productive people want others to be effective

Busy managers measure hours of activity, productive managers measure output. Busy managers are frustrated by others looking relaxed, looking like they have time, looking like they are enjoying their work. Productive managers love seeing others enjoy their work, love creating an environment in which others can excel.
Busy people are frustrated. They want to be valued for their effort, not for their results.
There is a Hindu saying: “We have a right to our labour, not to the fruits of our labour”.
We have a right to enjoy being excellent at our work, not a right to enjoy the car, the house, the money that comes from doing good work. Productivity is about valuing the journey towards excellence, not any moment of activity.

11. Busy people talk about how they will change. Productive people are making those changes.

Kilian Jornet doesn’t spend much time talking about what he will do. He talks about what he has done, what he has learnt, what inspires him.
Spend less time talking about what you will do and dedicate that time to creating the first step. What can you do now that requires the approval of nobody else? What can you do with the resources, knowledge and support that you have now? Do that. It is amazing how the universe rewards the person who stops talking and begins.
We are born with incredible potential. At the age of 20, the best compliment that can be paid is that you have a lot of potential. At the age of 30, it is still ok. At 40, you have a lot of potential is becoming an insult. At 60, telling someone that they have a lot of potential is probably the cruelest insult that can be made about their life.
Don’t let your potential go to waste. Create something amazing. This is its own reward.

10 Habits You Need To Give Up If You Want To Be Productive


When we are productive, we efficiently finish various tasks and achieve better results. However, there are many bad habits that are killing our productivity, yet we don’t recognize them at all. In order to improve your productivity, you have to give up these 10 bad habits.

1. Watching TV before going to bed

After a busy working day, everyone tends to sit in front of the TV, then move to the bedroom and continue watching TV. Many people think it relaxes them. However, it just makes them more tired. Sometimes, you don’t even realize how much time has passed when watching TV shows, and you end up falling asleep very late at night instead of falling asleep immediately. Get the TV out of your bedroom and soon you’ll notice that you sleep better and longer, and you feel fresh when you wake up. Moreover, being positive and fresh in the morning will certainly boost your productivity at work. Instead of watching TV shows, use the time before you fall asleep to evaluate your day and have intimate conversation with your partner. You can also focus on self-improvement by signing up to an online college where you can improve yourself and learn how to become more productive and efficient in your field of work. Turn off TV, bring education and intimacy in your home.

2. Spending a lot of time on social networks

Social networks are great for staying in touch with family and friends. However, when chatting, posting, sharing, and looking at various funny photos, we lose the sense of time and waste hours just scrolling through pages. Usually, before we fall asleep, we decide to check if there is something new in the news feed and end up falling asleep very late at night. You then feel tired in the morning and incapable of doing anything that demands focus and hard work.
Also, while working, we get interrupted all the time by the notifications that someone posted something or commented on our status update. You look at the notification and, instead of working, you get lost in the world of social networks. You become less focused on work and less productive. When at work, turn off the notifications and don’t log in. Instead of spending your free time on social networks, if you have something to share and want to do something productive you can learn how you can create a blog and escape your daily routine, while providing entertainment and information to others at the same time.

3. Not working out

People neglect physical activity because of their busy schedules, but let’s face it – we all have 20 minutes per day to spend working out. Before you go to work or when you get back, you can go hiking or jogging for 20 minutes. It is not much, but your body and mind will definitely benefit from it. If there is no place for jogging around your home, you can do simple exercises in your living room. If you have more time, you can take some yoga classes, which will help you not only to be physically active and fit, but also to become more productive and focused. When working out, you won’t feel any back pain caused by stress and sitting all day. You will definitely feel better and healthier, which will contribute to being more productive during the whole day.

4. Multitasking

We are all proud when we say that we are multitasking, and some even consider it a necessary skill of successful people. However, it is not a virtue and is slowly killing your productivity. When you multitask, you may be concentrated and focused, but that doesn’t mean that you are focused on every task equally. Moreover, not every task will be finished on time, and the results won’t be so good.
Getting fully focused on one task at a time will certainly bring you better results, because you will be able to perform them without distractions. If you are used to multitasking, try organizing yourself and doing one task at a time, and then compare the results. You might be surprised.

5. Striving for perfection

A person who is dedicated to their work always strives for perfection. However, some people are never satisfied with their work, which leaves them with unfinished work and a lot of stress. When striving for perfection, you may start over-analyzing things and focusing on tiny details. Being detail-oriented is a virtue, but if you are paying attention to every little detail, you are losing a lot of time on unimportant little tasks. In this way, your productivity decreases and you become exhausted. Put effort into the task and be detail-oriented, but don’t waste time, talent, and effort on the things that don’t affect the outcome of the task.

6. Going with the flow

Spontaneity should be present in our lives and not everything should be predictable. But when it comes to work management, we should organize our time well. When you are going with the flow, the work just keeps piling up. A chaotic schedule can lead only to decreased productivity, which usually results in failure.
Learn how to organize your time and make a good working plan in order to improve productivity and the chances of success. Moreover, the key to success and being productive is to determine both short-term and long-term goals.

7. Trying to be productive during the whole day

It is impossible to be productive and focused all day. The times when someone will be productive depend on the individual. Some people are productive in the morning, some in the afternoon and some are night owls. Find out when you are most productive and organize your schedule accordingly.

8. Doing every task by yourself

Many people think that they can save a lot of money by doing everything themselves, but they are wrong. They are losing money and time: instead of working on demanding tasks, they get lost in doing unimportant things that only waste their time. Smaller tasks should be outsourced, since there is no need for you to put effort into completing them. Outsourcing will pay off, and you will be able to finish important tasks successfully and on time.

9. Giving yourself more time to finish some tasks

Since we all want to complete some tasks successfully, we tend to postpone finishing them, because we need some time to think about how to get the best results. This always leads to procrastination, which leads to decreased productivity. If you want to be productive, you should trust your instincts, talent, and knowledge, and don’t question your success. Don’t let your virtue, to achieve the best possible results, destroy you.

10. Being negative and stressed out all the time

Learn how to deal with stressful situations, because they are negatively affecting your health, mood, and productivity. Negative feelings evoke the unwillingness to perform certain tasks, and you end up doing them unsuccessfully. The recipe is simple – just be happy. Avoid stressful situations and learn how to cope with them. Find a way to get rid of negative emotions and stress and gain some positive energy. When you are happy, you can do everything with little effort. You will notice that you don’t get exhausted after every task. Behind every successful job stands happiness and a positive attitude.

7 Powerful Habits Of Insanely Creative People


When it comes to creativity and success, have you ever wondered what sets certain individuals apart from others? While much is dependent on intrinsic skills that cannot be taught, there are also certain skills, techniques, and abilities that can be honed.
If you’re someone who’s interested in maximizing creativity, fostering innovation, and making a significant difference in the lives of those around you, it’s helpful to learn from those who’ve come before you. Let’s look at seven powerful habits of insanely creative people.

1. Always Ask Questions

Creative people never take anything at face value. Instead of simply accepting that things are a certain way because that’s the way they’ve always been, creative people ask questions and uncover answers. While you may not always find the answer you’re looking for, the mere act of seeking can be enough to spark a new idea or teach you a new lesson.

2. Wake Up Early

It would be incorrect to say that all successful and creative people wake up early. After all, Franz Kafka, the renowned German writer, was notorious for staying up all night and sleeping in until noon. And consider that Pablo Picasso rarely woke before 10 am. While both of these men were successful and creative, they’re exceptions to the rule. If you look at the majority of highly creative people, most are early risers. As Ernest Hemmingway once said, “There is no one to disturb you and it is cool and cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.”

3. Surround Yourself with Creative People

Like birds of a feather, creative people flock together. The reason for this is that you are what you surround yourself with. If you spend your time with lazy people, you too will become lazy. If you surround yourself with people who exercise all the time, you’ll naturally become active yourself. Well, if you spend time with innovative minds, you’ll automatically shift your thoughts and learn to think more creatively on a regular basis.

4. Expose Yourself to New Mediums

The best way to enhance creativity is to avoid limiting yourself. For example, painters shouldn’t only study other paintings. They should immerse themselves in music, drawing, woodworking, and sculpting. The more artistic mediums you expose yourself to, the more inspiration you’ll gain. On the other hand, if you suppress yourself and limit the types of art you consume, you’ll become one-dimensional.

5. Identify and Remove Barriers

Everyone has those barriers and challenges that threaten to hamper their ability to innovate. It’s up to you to identify these roadblocks and remove them from your life. This could be a toxic relationship, a less-than-satisfactory work environment, a lack of resources, or anything in between. It doesn’t matter what they are – they have to go. The longer they’re present, the more agitated and overwhelmed you’ll become.

6. Work With What You Have

Everyone is exposed to different environments. Creative people are able to consistently respond to the situations in which they’re placed and utilize the resources they have at their disposal. If you notice one thing about creative people, it’s that they aren’t afraid to be spontaneous. They don’t plan out every minute of every day, instead they’re flexible and willing to adapt.

7. Leave Time for Leisure

You can’t be creative all the time. Your brain needs to rest and recharge sometimes. That’s why highly creative people like Benjamin Franklin, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Charles Dickens, and Mary Flannery O’Connor always set aside hours of each day for food, leisure, and rest. What you do in your leisure time is up to you, but make sure you’re taking some time to simply be. You don’t have to be doing something 24/7/365. A little R&R never hurt anyone.
Featured photo credit: Creative People via

Sunday, September 6, 2015

6 Secrets About the Human Brain That Will Make You a Better Marketer

Ann Handley

Knowing how the mind processes information and images can help you send the right message.

6 Secrets About the Human Brain That Will Make You a Better Marketer
Image credit: Shutterstock

Knowing how the human mind processes information and images—and putting that knowledge to use—can help you become a more engaging and effective marketer.
Researchers in a new(ish) field of study are trying to figure out how our hard-wired preferences affect the decisions we make. Neuromarketing research is “the systematic collection and interpretation of neurological and neurophysiological insights about individuals using different protocols, allowing researchers to explore nonverbal and unconscious physiological responses to various stimuli for the purposes of market research,” according to the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association.
Put simply, neuromarketing is the study of how our brains respond to marketing and how it affects our behavior—consciously or unconsciously—explains Andy Crestodina, co-founder and strategic director of Chicago web design and development agency Orbit Media Studios, who speaks and writes about the topic.
“There are ‘cognitive biases’ built into all of us,” he says. “We can’t help it. Marketing either works with or against the cognitive biases.”
It’s critical to understand these predispositions, to know how our minds process information and images. “The competition for attention is fierce, so knowing what lights up our brains gives marketers an edge that can help them win,” says Grey Garner, vice president of marketing at Emma, an email marketing provider based in Nashville, Tenn.
So let’s take a look at some secrets of the human mind you can tap into from a marketing perspective.
Secret 1: We all have a primitive brain. The amygdala controls our reactions and emotions, and it works much faster than our conscious, rational mind, Garner says. In fact, we experience gut reactions in three seconds or less. Emotions make a more lasting imprint than rational thought.
Marketing takeaway: Aim for a gut reaction, and pay special attention to how your materials look when scanned quickly (as opposed to deliberately considered—because no one has the time or inclination to do that anymore).
Pay attention to the things people see first. In email marketing, your subject line and pre-header (that bit of text you read most prominently on a mobile device, above the body of the email) should grab readers and speak to their pains, wants, needs and emotions. In blogging or other online content, pay special attention to headlines. (You should spend as much time writing the headline as you do the rest of the piece.) In website content, make your pages welcoming and easily grokked.
Secret 2: Our brains love images. Our brains process images much faster than text. Approximately 90 percent of all data that the brain processes is visual. We remember pictures with text more than we remember text alone.
Marketing takeaway: Use images, of course—but make them special, and lay off the stock shots. I like the way Loews Hotels & Resorts integrates candid guest images into its “Travel for Real” ad campaign, and the way men’s clothing company Chubbies uses hilarious GIFs in its email mailings. You can also use a web tool like Canva or mobile app Over ( to create custom images.
Secret 3: Our brains love images of faces. Research suggests that natural selection favored humans who were able to quickly identify threats and build relationships. As part of that, we are wired from birth to recognize and prefer human faces. The part of the brain that processes human faces is right next to the part that processes emotions.
Marketing takeaway: Use real people in your marketing materials, and consider putting faces on landing pages, in emails or on web pages designed to drive a desired action.
Eye-tracking studies show that our brains will default to first look at human faces on a web page. What’s more, we’ll look where the faces are looking. So entice by adding, say, a photo of a face that looks toward a call-to-action button or crucial bit of text.
Secret 4: Colors inspire specific feelings. There’s more to color choice than what looks good. Different colors cue different signals in a brain. In fact, research has shown that 62 to 90 percent of our feeling about a product is determined by color alone. Yellow activates the anxiety center of the brain. Blue builds trust. Red creates urgency. And that’s just the start.
Marketing takeaway: There’s a science and art behind color choice—especially as it relates to marketing fundamentals like call-to-action buttons. “Don’t choose colors arbitrarily,” Crestodina says.
What colors work best for your company will depend on your brand, positioning and audience. The best approach, as always, is to test how color affects response before choosing.
Secret 5: Names change behavior. What something is called affects our reaction to it. A recent study by David R. Just and Brian Wansink of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found that calling the same portion of spaghetti “double-size” instead of “regular” caused diners to eat less.
Marketing takeaway: Carefully consider how your wording might influence attitude as you name products, describe models or options and create customer messaging.
Secret 6: We crave belonging. We have an innate desire to conform. “When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other,” said philosopher Eric Hoffer.
Marketing takeaway: Remove anxiety, signal belonging and build credibility with an audience by using social proof and signals—in the form of endorsements from well-known influencers in your market; badges or awards from McAfee, TRUSTe or Norton; media logos (from outlets that have quoted or referenced you); customer testimonials woven throughout a site (not exiled to a specific page); and social widgets and shares, assuming you have a solid social media program in place.
One more tip is to use inclusive, specific language on any call to action to signal what Crestodina calls a “call to conform.” Rather than having a sign-up box for a newsletter, say something like, “We are the nation’s leading resource for home heating and cooling information and supplies. Subscribe now.” You might invoke belonging by saying: “Join more than 35,000 contractors and homeowners who seek weekly heating and cooling tips and supplies.”