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ZMET for Metaphor Marketing

'Metaphor marketing' is nothing but brain scan marketing. Zaltman, an expert psychologist says that lot of activities and thoughts revolve in a persons mind without his being aware of it. These activities at the conscious and sub-conscious levels influence a person’s actions, often below his awareness level. For unearthing those hidden feelings and knowledge, new techniques are needed - to get at what people don't know they know.

Zaltman developed a technique now known as the ZMET, Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique -“a technique for eliciting inter-connected constructs that influence thought and behaviour”. This method combines neurobiology, psychoanalysis, linguistics, and art theory to uncover the mental models that guide consumer behaviour to illuminate the dark shadows of the customer brain.

Metaphor marketing uses positron emission topography (brain scans) to locate how - or more precisely, where - consumers think.

Studies undertaken by cognitive scientists revealed that human beings think in images, not in words. Most market research techniques use words, not images. They are based on the age-old method of surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups. Sociolinguists know that most communication is nonverbal. In spite of this, most research tools are "verbocentric."

"People can give us only what we give them the opportunity to provide," Zaltman says. "To the extent that we structure the stimulus - whether it's a discussion guide in a focus group or a question in a survey - all people can do, is respond. And there's value in that. But I see those as strip-mining techniques," Zaltman says, deploying - what else? - A metaphor. "Sometimes the valuable ore is on the surface. But often it's not. Strip-mining techniques are inappropriate when there's a great deal more depth to be had. Typically, the deeper you go, the more value there is."

Motorola hadto market a new security system. Hoping to understand the metaphorical side of the product, a few managers used ZMET to ask - How do potential customers feel when they're secure and when they're insecure? They had to give some pictorial or visual depiction of what they thought.The images that subjects selected were Dogs. Interviewees revealed that canines represented comfort and security: the feeling of protection that comes from knowing that a loyal animal is looking out for them. This finding could have enormous implications for how the product is positioned - less as a technological gizmo, more as a companion - and for how it is named. Don't call it "The Talkatron." Call it, say, "The Watchdog."

Metaphor marketing can be immensely successful and the insight into understanding how visual cues and signals can lead them occasionally into anomalous or distinctive interpretations for effective strategy.


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