Marketing Messenger/ Online Media

Demand-Generation Success: Awakening The Old Brain


by Tim Riesterer
Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer
Corporate Visions Inc.

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[Editor’s Note: is excited to welcome our newest blogger, Tim Riesterer, two-time author and chief strategy and marketing officer for Corporate Visions, Inc. In Marketing Messenger, which will appear monthly, Tim will explore contemporary issues affecting marketing teams worldwide, and share advice and best practices for addressing these challenges.]

The first person with the bright idea to create a demand-generation campaign using a whitepaper as a call to action must have been on to something. For the past 20 years, it seems as though everyone thinks they need to offer a whitepaper, analyst report, or some other text-heavy, written-word document as the call to action.

Unfortunately, you’re setting yourself up for failure by taking this approach. You see, there’s a big crinkly part of the brain called the neocortex, or the “new brain,” and it loves to analyze things−and it loves whitepapers. But this isn’t the part of the brain that makes decisions. Decision-making is the job of a completely different part of the brain known as the limbic system, or the “old brain.” The old brain is a basic system without the ability to process words or language. It’s designed to ensure your survival, and it’s the part of the brain that must be activated by demand generation programs if you want to move your prospects to a purchase decision.

To successfully generate demand, you must awaken the old brain and make sure your prospect knows that his or her status quo is no longer safe. (Come to think of it, I’m a little worried the words of this article aren’t waking your old brain. If you want to hear and see this message, watch this brief video for the rest of the story.)

This approach starts with the messaging you create, which must do four things:

  1. Be willing to challenge prospects’ assumptions about their existing approach.
  2. Show your prospects how their world is changing and create urgency to respond.
  3. Get prospects to see that their outcomes and objectives are at risk if they don’t do anything.
  4. Provide a clear contrasting alternative that moves prospects to a “new safe.”

Once you’ve built your message and awakened the old brain, you must tell your story visually. Be sure to use visual images that the old brain craves, including those that appeal to emotions and highlight contrast. Use images that bring your story to life, like pictures that clearly depict the problem and illuminate the pain and risk to your prospect’s business objectives. This should be followed by an image that resolves those challenges with a visually contrasting new way to solve them.

Demand For Video
You are taking a huge risk if you aren’t using video as the main component of your content and demand-generation strategy. The explosion of smartphones and tablets is driving demand for more mobile and video content. As a result, your prospects are going to expect that they can do their research while watching videos−not reading PDFs. If you add this shift to the old brain’s need for visual storytelling, then the imperative for you to embrace video is irrefutable.

Recently, a test was conducted to determine the effectiveness of video in demand generation programs. To promote a webcast, emails were sent and social media promotions were carried out that pushed prospects to a landing page with additional information and the opportunity to register for the online event.

Simultaneously, another group was sent emails and targeted through social media, but there was an additional step−a quick three-minute promotional video embedded in the email highlighting the big ideas contained in the webcast. Following the video, prospects were then directed to the same landing page as the first group.  

Guess what? The second approach, the one with the video, drove three times more registrants than the more simple, one-step approach. 

As the business landscape becomes increasingly mobile, salespeople and marketers can no longer ignore the brain science that supports visual storytelling and the use of video in demand-generation campaigns as a more effective way to reach prospects and help them make a purchase decision. Don’t believe me? I’d urge you to conduct a test of your own. You won’t regret it.

About Tim Riesterer

A marketing and sales industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience, Tim Riesterer is the chief strategy and marketing officer for Corporate Visions Inc., a leading sales and marketing messaging company that works with B2B companies. Tim is also a recognized thought leader, practitioner, and author. His books, “Customer Message Management” and “Conversations that Win the Complex Sale,” focus on improving market-ready messages and tools that marketers and salespeople can use to win more deals. For easily integrated marketing and sales tips, visit