Thursday, December 28, 2006

Marketing Music

Can we hear customer behavior better than we see it?

One often reads about a 360 degree view of the customer. But in reading "This is Your Brain on Music" by Daniel Levitin I wondered if an auditory analogy might be better than a visual one.

The challenge of understanding and interpreting marketing's impact on customer behavior is similar to what the brain has to go through when identifying sources and meanings of different sounds. As I write this I hear a) the click of the keyboard, b) the tock of the clock, and c) the woosh of the heating duct. Right now my brain is trying to deal with three very specific problems as it interprets the data.

1. Undifferentiated information -- the receipt of data is not tagged with the source
2. Ambiguous information -- different sources sound the same
3. Incomplete information -- lost or overlapping sounds

These are exactly the same issues we face in assessing marketing programs: A sale isn't linked to a TV ad, a purchase looks like any other purchase, and the transaction lacks context. While we've had a lifetime (both personally and evolutionary) to process sounds our collective experience with customer behavior is much more limited. As a result our perceptions and assumptions often are used to fill in the gaps. And this is where the risk creeps onto the score.

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