Why It Works So Well

Until recently, behavior has been available for full measurement and behavior history has been one of the primary components of predicting future behavior. An audience’s behavior can be observed and counted. Cognitions have been available to some degree as market researchers have employed a wide variety of rationally focused “opinion” methods, such as focus groups, interviews, laddering techniques and written direct question surveys. The questions posed within these methods tend to be “what do you think” items but it is clear that, especially in social settings such as focus groups and interviews, what is expressed is predictably biased by the setting. Individuals will say, in these settings, what will be acceptable to the audience, group or interviewer based on over conscious thought. The real reasons and thoughts are censored for public expression before they are spoken and the truth about what that person really thinks is never truly expressed.

Similarly, written surveys typically pose possible thoughts that individuals are challenged to agree or disagree with (predetermined sets of attributes for example). These items are essentially hypotheses of the marketer about what the respondent might be thinking, and may or may not accurately reflect the actual thoughts of respondents. These items very likely will not include whole realms of respondent thinking that are not covered in the survey, they are what the marketer thinks someone thinks versus what someone truly thinks.

If these issues of respondent bias and missing-the-truth are true for thoughts, they are doubly true for understanding the emotion/thought connection, which are experienced even more privately and are even less likely to be honestly revealed to others. Attempts to elicit and measure this connection have typically employed adjective checklists with the presumption that when a person chooses one of the researcher’s words from a list the researcher fully understands what that individual means by that word. There is also typically no way to indicate the intensity with which that emotion is felt, and no way to correct for the bias of the baseline emotional condition of the respondent at the time of the survey.

Overall, behavior has been measured by market researchers, and indirectly by CFO’s, for many years. Cognitions/Reasons/Thoughts tend to be incompletely and inaccurately assessed by current market research methods mainly because the connection to emotion is not apparent. This connection of opening the emotional part of the brain then asking for cognition/reason/thought is one of the main missing elements in most market research methodologies.

The Brain Surgery Survey (primary research) – How it works – entry through the emotional portal or pathway:

The survey is an anonymous, self-reporting tool primarily administered on the web (so people take it in their own environment) and utilizes contextual frames of reference versus direct questions.. This method is an improvement in accuracy in looking at emotions because it offers respondents a comfortable anonymous setting that they control, and it has a critical sequence of the survey experience outlined as follows:

  1. It requires that respondents first identify the emotions that they experience when they consider a particular topic or topical frame of reference, and then elicits the reasons for those emotions (we ask respondents to respond to emotions first).
  2. It elicits the intensities with which emotions are felt, corrects for the emotional baselines of respondents at the time of the survey, as well as the general emotionality of each respondent.
  3. It determines the importance of the associated purchase issues (rational reasons to buy or preprinted receptors) by aggregating the emotion intensity scores for a statistically significant number of respondents.

Anonymity, respondent comfort, context guided combined with its emotion-first focus, allows the survey to deliver a predictable, candid disclosure from respondents. This candor is, at the same time, analyzed across large numbers of respondents. What results is a statistically powerful understanding of how a group of people truly feels about an issue (product, service, policy, etc.), and, of even greater pragmatic value, why, exactly, they feel the way that they do revealing and defining their expectations in their language.

By self reporting why they feel a certain way about the subject, the survey gathers a clear picture of how they want to receive or what their expectations are for the product, service etc. These verbatims when coded and weighted using the intensity and valence scores uncover the optimal, most motivational language.

The survey has been proven to have predictive validity in gathering the “why” or reason behind what would amount to future behavior and providing the input needed to develop language and messaging that can be scored based on its attraction value and ability to be emotionally gripping for customers and prospects (consumers, B to B customers, physicians etc.)

The Survey’s Origin and Its Advantages

The primary advantages of the survey include:

This type of survey is an efficient and effective method for eliciting a more accurate and honest level of disclosure from respondents than traditional methods, e.g., focus groups, interviews and direct question formats gain more conscious thought out response but may miss what is underneath or more non-conscious response that reveals the truth.

The survey typically looks at the “ideal” for any given product or service, the respondents “current” experience (or competing brands) and the promise of the product or service being offered by the client company-from the gaps between the way emotions set up expectations or ways the respondents want to receive. In each of these three instances Brain Surgery is able to provide precision in areas of perceptual positioning, motivational language, messaging frameworks and attribute optimization, all based on the relationship of emotional drivers designed to move customers/prospects to a faster buying decision by creating a more motivational emotional connection.

The survey has specific measurements that reveal the emotion (how high or low is the anxiety toward a product or service), it’s relative value (how positive or negative), what it attaches to in terms of the reason, how that is defined by the customer and what priority and weight represent is placed on the emotion reason connection.
The survey combines both strategic directions, i.e., emotional mindset quantification and tactical direction, i.e., direct responses to suspected attributes, messages, positioning statements, concepts, etc. with a comparison to the real time emotional score for the brand or product.

The combination of assured anonymity, the right setting (respondents setting), respondent controlling the survey experience, using contextual frames of reference and emotion-first focus encourages respondents to reveal privately-held emotions and thoughts that are typically not revealed in front of others or when using the direct question format.