Indy AMA
Indianapolis Chapter of the American Marketing Association


Learn more about our team of volunteers, past events & marketing hot-topics!


To Drive Sales, Get Inside Your Customer's Head

Written by Susan Gosselin

At IndyAMA’s October Luncheon, speaker Paige Moore explained how understanding the way your customers process information is the key to developing content that connects.

How well do you really know your customer?

Many companies may know their age and their buying habits. But, according to Paige Moore, content director for Outside Source Design, until you really know the emotions, needs and desires that drive your customer’s buying decisions, you might be gambling with your marketing dollars. Fortunately, Moore said consumer-driven messaging can usually be achieved with some inexpensive homework and making strategic revisions to your existing campaigns.

Here are some of Moore’s recommendations for applying consumer psychology to your marketing messages:

Create Personas

Personas help companies understand their customers by dividing them into categories based on their demographics, needs and buying motivations. Personas are nothing new in marketing, but Moore said too many companies make them and put them in a drawer. She argued that they should drive everything behind your marketing messages.

So, how to create accurate personas?  A good start might be creating short, one-to-five question surveys customers fill out at purchase or as a requirement to download a report or get a special offer.  Match these up with the demographics you may already have stored in your system. Talk to the sales force. Choose certain customers and do a phone interview. In short – listen.

What pressures do they face?  What desires do they have? How has your product helped them in the past? What information do they know about your company? How do they view it against your competitors? These questions will lead you to the information you need to properly segment your customer and potential customer base, and create meaningful personas, Moore said. Once you have your data, Moore recommended visiting Hubspot’s free tool,, which will allow you to access stock photography and create presentation-worthy personas for your marketing plans.

Understand the types of memory

You may have heard of short-term and long-term memory, but Moore said there are actually four types of memory and marketers should be catering to all of them, including:

  • Sensory memory ­ – Great for brand awareness, sensory memory is what sinks into a consumer’s mind when you first get their attention. This type of memory can be easily stimulated through music, humor, the unexpected, discomfort, celebrity, cute animals and sexually suggestive imagery, for starters.
  • Working memory – When customers need to hold a few steps in mind, such as visit your website to type in an offer, get more information for comparison, or learn how to use your product, marketers must appeal to the working memory. The best tools for this are blogs, how-to videos, checklists, and such.
  • Long-term memory – When a customer has had repeated exposure to your message or experience with your product, they put that in their long-term memory. “My local ACE Hardware on the corner has great deals on garden equipment,” is the sort knowledge a customer puts in their long-term memory.
  • Wisdom – This is the type of memory where a customer has developed a relationship with your brand, and understands how your product and your overall brand integrate into their lives. Moore pointed to Apple as an example of this, as customers not only pay attention to their products but also identify with the brand.

Turn Features into Emotion-Driven Benefits

Instead of describing your product features, turn them into benefits that mean something to your specific persona. This example, from Apple, talks holistically about the product and how it can make your life better. In so doing, it indirectly accomplishes the goal of differentiating it from the competition, and magically seems to understand what the customer is going to think about that benefit.


If your customer personas differ substantially from one another, then creating persona-specific marketing with target messages that reflect their wants, needs and desires is worth the investment. It’s easier than ever to do with digital marketing and email marketing campaigns, she said. Moore also recommended customizing your website so you are funneling customers based on their persona through your website. This can be done by having them identify what they are looking for with special buttons on your home page. This can open the door to a section of the website tailored to their specific needs.

Don’t target more than one type of memory at once

Moore said one of the most common mistakes she sees marketers make is trying to get customers to process too many different types of messages at once. If you have a branding “sensory” message, coupled with a “working memory” checklist, for instance, it might be best to break those up. For instance, your first message might be a sensory one, working memory may come after a sale, and long-term memory relationship might come when you offer to sign the customer up for a loyalty program.

Many of the kinds of things Moore mentioned are things that many marketers know, reflexively. If you have ever watched an episode of “Mad Men” where Don Draper makes a presentation, you know, what makes him special is his ability to tap into the customer’s underlying wants and desires. Their pathos…their zeitgeist. But, in the daily push to do more with less, how often do we crowd our messaging, rush the customer, or fail to listen? Putting these techniques front and center as part of your messaging process is enough to freshen up anyone’s marketing messaging. I’m looking forward to starting with these, today.

About the blogger: Susan Gosselin is the principal of Gosselin PR, a consultancy delivering content for content marketers, all manners of freelance writing, strategic communications/media relations, and event planning. Email her at, or visit her profile.

Katie Gilmore