Ghost in the Marketing Machine

GhostInTheMarketingMachine

One of the many views regarding the philosophy of the mind is called “psychophysical dualism.” It was especially present in the texts of Descartes and postulated the separation of the psychological aspect of humanity from its physicality. The British philosopher Gilbert Ryle described this position as a “Ghost in the Machine.” The machine is, of course, the body, while the spirit is the collective mind, soul, and intelligence of the individual, which makes us unique and efficient. Without the “spirit,” the machine is nothing more than a passive tool that only works when someone requires, it is not able to operate proactively.

Let’s be honest: in one way or another, we are all guilty of manipulating others almost every day. But there is nothing to be ashamed about; there is nothing wrong, in principle, although the word “manipulate” sounds a bit harsh.

Most of the messages we exchange are intended to convince, leaving a good impression. The belief is that the other person will benefit from our smart words. We continuously act on each other in the social space. Some people do it better, others worse; some more often, others perhaps too rarely. Classic marketing tries to do it all the time.

Have you ever had that feeling when you step into a store, and your eyes are bombarded with zillions of messages, not necessarily tailored to your preferences?

When Reed Hastings, co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Netflix, was asked, “How many versions of the application are available?” he instantly replied: “As many as users.” A very catchy answer, in addition to being 100% true.

Headquarters of the Société des Aquafortistes, Adolphe-Martial Potémont. 1864 r.
Headquarters of the Société des Aquafortistes, Adolphe-Martial Potémont. 1864 r.

Netflix is just one big framework of recommendations, in which each title is set by algorithms. It is like a good friend you’ve known since childhood, who has watched every film, animation, and series since the invention of the camera and is just waiting for you to ask for help. Spotify, for instance, is an audiophile friend who recognizes your preferences and knows how to surprise you. Google is a class leader who knows the answer to every question, learns every time you ask something, and can predict biased queries.

What makes all these “machines” proactive? The spirit, of course – Artificial Intelligence (AI). They learn mechanically. There is no reason why your online store shouldn’t have such a spirit!

Ghost Intelligence listens…

Let’s take a step back and see how it looks offline… Active selling is an essential part of the marketing strategy of any store – from big chains to small shops.

An experienced salesman who knows his customer well knows what products to offer to suit his preferences. Merchandise display is a science (you can ask Sam Walton about it)! A smart shop owner will know how to organize products in a way to optimize cross-selling, upselling, and branding. By using short questions, a clerk can specify his client’s needs and skillfully examine his preferences.

“Boot & Shoe Shop”, ze zbioru
Boot & Shoe Shop, from “Poetical Sketches of Scarborough”, 1813 (Thomas Rowlandson)

Consider for a moment: you are at a drugstore, and this “perfect salesperson” is helping you. Would you believe him? Would you be fooled by his tricks? Some of us probably yes. It depends on our personality. Most customers, however, instead of “falling for” his brilliant handling skills, words, and charisma, would withdraw. So, what makes a multi-level combination of an online store marketing effective, even though it’s just trying to be the “perfect salesperson”?

Ghost in the machine

The dualism mentioned earlier is only one of the positions in the philosophy of psychology. Some philosophers didn’t believe in such a division. Still – we all have both thoughts and bodies.
In the case of Spotify, Google, Netflix, this is not obvious to the average person. The ease and pleasure of using them are simply the “ease and pleasure” of using a tool or a pharmacy. The average user is not aware of being under permanent analysis, in some way claiming the merit of a positive experience. The spirit is invisible.

“Duch Króla Ukazujący się Hamletowi”, Anonim. XiW wiek.
“The Ghost of the King Appearing to Hamlet”, Anonymous.  19th century.

The strength of a marketer is, or it should be, that his customer does not notice his existence (spirit). At the same time, his store (body) deals with a skillful sale, as the marketer expects. At ≡ edrone, we name this “dualism” as the Marketing Machine.

I Like the Melodies I’ve Heard Before

Customers [people] don’t like changes. Most of the time, they choose to it out of necessity or under the influence of a strong impulse.

Therefore, the goal is to offer what is most likely to be desired. Whether the customer will buy these products (and whether this is what you should care about) is another matter.

By the way, have you ever recommended a song, a movie, a series, or a book to a friend? It’s definitely not an easy task. Notwithstanding, one of the components of Spotify’s success is smart recommendations that allow you to broaden your musical tastes. These songs seem to be new, but they’re still somehow ‘known’ for you. “New releases for you,” “Your favorite albums and songs,” among others… often presenting completely new artists.

Why does it work? Spotify is not a pushy salesman – the presented offer is discreet, full of enthusiasm and sincerity. Additionally, it has been carefully prepared by AI based on your historical data.

12 Angry… Clients?

Do you know the principle of complementarity? It’s indeed a fascinating topic in marketing psychology. What is it all about? A correct compliment that affects another person is one that has a context.

People love to be quoted. In the movie “12 Angry People,” an old man summoned as a witness testified against a boy accused of murder. He bent the facts a little bit, even though he gained nothing from it. Why? As the plot unfolds, we learn that he did it because he just wanted very much to be quoted.

People – your customers – take care of their privacy as a matter of principle. In this era of social media, many of you will probably disagree with this, but let’s remember: we share it, not fully aware of how much information we share. However, we share mainly what we want to boast about.

The machine must put out its message based on the analysis of customer behavior in the right context:

“Hey, we saw that you liked these products a lot! A very nice addition to X and Y is Z! What do you think?”

We analyze the full measurable spectrum of customer behavior, then, clearly refer to the most apparent, open actions and actions. Insights such as preferences, behavior on websites, gender, political orientation, religion, and many others may worry the customer. Leave them between the lines of a marketing message, or better yet – don’t move them at all. Let the algorithm handle them.

Watch, and learn

It is also essential to give the customer a free hand. Nobody likes to be forced to do anything. Encouraged? Of course. The old man, when asked for his opinion, gave the investigators answers even though he was not connected with the case. It is enough for the customer to take an interest in the products, look at them. Don’t worry – they were carefully selected for him. Let the decision be up to him.

  • In the worst-case scenario, we will get another insight. We learn from our mistakes. Artificial intelligence is no exception. We are taking a step forward.
  • At its best, we get conversion and three steps forward.

As I said before, whether or not psychophysical dualism is the right view, the fact is that mind and machine should work together to achieve the goal. The success of Netflix and Spotify is proof of that. It is an excellent time for the next applications, websites, and e-commerces to receive the Ghost for their Machine…

Marcin Lewek

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By Daniele Zedda • 18 February

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