Conventional marketing strategies used today involve ‘in your face’ tactics, which you’d probably call advertising. Those creating campaigns will design eye-catching banners, write catchy slogan or perhaps present unyielding questions which their products are designed to answer. Whereas professional marketers will identify with people, marketing is designed specifically to identify with one’s mind.

Professionals in the marketing realm understand how to link mankind’s material desires with specific response patterns. The process of discovering the correlation between our desires and the need to nurture to them involves some level of cognitive science, the hidden variable behind every (and any) great marketing campaign.

History of Cognition

René Descartes, commonly referred to as ‘the father of modern philosophy’, deduced that human minds had the ability to form ideas yet remained in duality with our bodies. As both time and technology evolved, scientists were armed with data capturing tools to help form relationships between decisions and the processes involved to arrive at them.

The very essence of how humans smell, taste, feel and react to stimuli stems from our neural circuitry, which continually grows as we experience new stimuli and establish methods of reaction. Responses to communication, such as anger or sadness, help determine yet another pattern – one of avoidance – so future reactions can be positive. This is often played out during confrontations or feelings of entrapment since humans are inclined to begin ‘fight or flight’ procedures during times of heightened emotion.

Scientists have made dramatic strides in figuring out cognitive health and have increased awareness of neuroscience as an educational tool. Using numerous case studies, putting together an entire marketing plan based solely off cognition would render a much deeper, lasting effect than social suggestion.

Cognitive science as it relates to marketing

Folgers is arguably the one company who uses cognitive marketing better than most. As we’re lying in bed, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee immediately travels to our perceptive sensors. We awaken, perform our morning rituals, and head down to grab our cups.


Our minds identify the smell of morning coffee with feelings of warmth, refreshment, revival and rejuvenation, which we learned from our first experience with Folgers. We tested the theory that the best part of waking up is Folgers in our cups, and now the feelings are autonomous. Game over.

Digital marketing should, by design, entice our eyes. We cannot smell, feel or taste digitally presented advertisements, meaning visual stimulation is mandatory. By tapping into our perception of pleasant sight, we afford those whom our marketing will affect the opportunity to feel welcomed. I found an interesting account of this fact when Name Perfection illustrated the usage of Christmas in marketing, and how the evolution of a mega-brand derived from society’s enamor for Christ.

For example, using difficult language leaves millions of viewers feeling inadequate, meaning our audience is feeling we’re too ‘grandiose’ of a company. Similarly, presenting childlike caricatures in our advertisements when grown adults will read them is more than likely to offend than appease. By design, our minds digress from words, colors and pictures which make us feel visually displeased or put us into a world we’re trying to seek relief from.

Cognition is the missing additive

Societally speaking, we identify our need to be emotionally satisfied with products or services that can fulfill those needs. We are relentless in our pursuit to feel loved, knowledgeable, strong, healthy and socially accepted. Marketing should reflect the path people must take to fill these cognitive needs, but unfortunately, many campaigns in existence present solutions for problems people never knew existed. That level of confusion, which leads to impulse buys, will likely create brand hatred since feelings of deception are natural when people are tricked into buying products or services under forcible pretenses.

Metacognition is one ingenious method of marketing. Otherwise known as “thinking about thinking”, one major component of metacognition involves planning. By executing an elevated level of management and process control, we can assure marketing strategies have maximum entry and exit value. When those values increase, user engagement will increase.

To illustrate, imagine you’ve created an ironclad marketing plan that entailed 20 steps to follow until completion. With each step, there will be three phases called cognition regulation which effectively monitor each step’s progress:

  • Planning phase: Implementing an effective roadmap to successfully launch the step along with subsequent procedures should said step fail to launch as planned.
  • Monitoring phase: During each step’s execution, monitoring the progress analytically or through documented notes is vital. Analytics through Google isn’t entirely necessary here.
  • Evaluating phase: Upon the conclusion of each step, evaluating the success and notating the failures will help improve future planning of similar campaigns.

Essentially, your 20 step marketing campaign will have 60 steps. By having subsets of each major step, we’re able to closely monitor the cognitive responses to each campaign and form more pervasive future marketing campaigns that render results.

Why ‘mind marketing’ is significant

Our continually evolving culture relies on publicizing human needs. Marketing, by design, is an opportunity to present solutions to unaddressed problems, or reinventing current solutions so problems are more desirably solved. Google has incorporated a robotic version of this fact that was covered in Surviving the Algorithm.

Mankind has evolved into forward-thinking creatures of change not solely because we’re displeased with our surroundings, but we’re curious as to what extent we’re able to enhance our standard of living. In order to enhance our imminent domain, cognitive conditioning is mandatory.

Marketing can solve our desire to acquire tangible items, but is better received when it has a purpose. When you’re pushing a solution without thinking how society will receive its attached message, you’ll emulate the exact dark image your company wishes to avoid.

Cognitive marketing is the mind behind the message you’re trying to convey. It’s pretty scientific, but once you’ve managed to see the emotions running through your buyer’s mind, you’ll start crafting effective and more meaningful campaigns.