TechBytes with Patrick Renvoise, Chief NeuroMarketing Officer & Co-founder, SalesBrain

Patrick Renvoise

Patrick Renvoise
Chief NeuroMarketing Officer & Co-founder, SalesBrain

In the run up to Full Circle Insights’ Circulate 2017, we spoke to Patrick Renvoise, Co-Founder & Chief Neuromarketing Officer, Salesbrain, who is scheduled to speak on Neuromarketing and Neuroselling: The New Sciences of Persuasion, at the event. In this interview, Patrick gives us an introduction to the nascent field of neuromarketing.

MTS: Tell us about your role at SalesBrain and how you reached here?
 Dr Christophe Morin co-founded SalesBrain with me. I got there because I love science and because of 2 passions:

  • The marketing of complex solutions

With a MS in Computer Sciences, I marketed Silicon Graphic super computers for many years and developed a passion for the marketing of complicated solutions. I also had a chance to meet with many of the top scientists at the world’s greatest institutions like NASA, Shell, BMW, … and the best universities like Stanford , Harvard, EPFL, and the IITs .

  • The human brain

I can’t learn enough about the human brain. With 86 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses, the brain represents one of the most complex systems in the universe. Realizing that all our decisions come from the electro-chemical reactions of our neuronal networks is just mind boggling …not to mention that in 2017 there is still no consensus about how consciousness arises from those 3 lbs of jelly like matter!

About 16 years ago, I had an epiphany. As I was reading a book on the human brain, the author, a neuroscientist by the name of Joseph Ledoux explained that the real decision maker in the brain is not the rational brain but the primal brain. Although the world of neuroscientists is well aware of this and they have strong research evidence to back it up, it seems this secret never reached the business world. So, I decided to write a book that would bridge the world of neuroscience with the world of business. It took me about 9 months of research and in the end, I was glad and possibly a bit surprised that a publisher was interested in publishing it. At the time the word neuromarketing didn’t even exist and our book (Dr Christophe Morin co-authored the book) was the very first book on the subject. We ended up selling more of that book than all the other books on neuromarketing combined. And just recently we signed up a new publishing agreement with Wiley so we are now working on a new book that will incorporate what we learned in the past 15 years. Christophe also received a PhD on the topic so we now have much stronger scientific evidence to support our model: NeuroMap™, the only model that reveals the working principles of the primal brain!

MTS: What is the foundational tenet of “Neuro-marketing”?
Let’s first define what marketing is: Traditional marketing is about asking people “What do you want?” then based on their answers marketers create a product (or service) and create a strategy to sell it. But the fundamental problem with this approach is that people don’t really know what they want. Self-reported measures of customers’ needs or wants are at best approximate, or at worst, completely irrelevant.

So the promise of neuromarketing is to draw a more accurate picture of what buyers really want. This is achieved by measuring neurophysiological changes that happen in their brain and nervous system when they answer the question “what do you want?” In essence, this is like looking behind the curtain of subconsciousness or poking into what is happening in the primal brain. These research techniques are called modalities and include:

  • Implicit Associations Test: whereby we measure the response time (in ms) to create associations between 2 concepts, thereby revealing unconscious biases. For example, this could be used by Apple to measure precisely (without the bias of having the interviewees telling us what they think) to what degree a person associates the brand Apple with the term “cool to own” as opposed to “easy to use”.
  • Layered Voice Analysis: We use software that extracts the emotional state of a subject from the frequency changes in their voice. This technology was originally developed for the CIA to interrogate terrorists. These involuntary changes in tone provide second by second information on a person’s emotional state during a dialogue or an interview.
  • Facial Coding: Uses a software to code the emotional state of the interviewee by measuring the contractions of 43 muscles on their face.
  • Biometrics: These methods include Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) which measures how electricity flows between 2 fingers and an Electrocardiogram (ECG), which monitors heart beats.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) and Eye tracking: With eye tracking, we measure where a subject’s eyes are focusing, either on a static image or on a video. This is typically paired with an EEG which measures the small electric currents on top of the skull. These currents are symptomatic of various forms of brain activity which translate into variables with a marketing meaning such as the level of attention of the interviewee, their level of engagement, and cognitive effort.
  • fMRI: The level of brain activity is revealed by measuring the amount of oxygen used by various areas of the brain.

All these modalities have a range of applications and limitations but the common trend is that those techniques which were once expensive, complicated and limited for lab testing are now becoming ubiquitous. The hardware and software necessary to run these tests are becoming more affordable, more portable and easier to use. So, we continue to see a progression in how neuromarketing complements traditional marketing and some people even believe that the natural evolution will be for neuromarketing to replace traditional marketing.

MTS: How does SalesBrain’s NeuroMap methodology scientifically diagnose pain points in customer engagement?
The promise of Neuromarketing is indeed to probe the minds of the consumers while removing the approximation of self-reported answers. In fact, we specifically look at unveiling their pains (as opposed to needs) because frustrations and fears are core drivers of our behavior, which function below our level of awareness. These negative emotions dictate our behavior including our buying patterns as predictably as the strings move the puppet.

What is central and unique to NeuroMap™ is that it provides a scientific explanation of how consumers will be affected by messages. It also provides a map of how to optimize these messages to improve their impact on the consumers. The key concepts of NeuroMap™ explain in simple yet scientific terms the predominance of the primal brain (vs the rational brain) in all buying decisions. So once our clients understand the working principles of the primal brain, all the research efforts including the complex decisions on the choice of stimuli to be tested and the interpretation of the data are driven by NeuroMap™.

MTS: Can neuromarketing technologies bridge the gap in content marketing, sales enablement, and sales productivity?
Using a neuromarketing model, because it provides a scientific model of persuasion, will improve the impact of all the messages created by the enterprise. Not only the marketing department but also the sales department (we also talk of neuro-selling) will be able to create messages that are designed to appeal to their audience. In fact, we start to hear the term: Neuro-ergonomic to describe sales and marketing activities and messages which will not fatigue the brain of the customers, giving these messages more chances to create a positive impact.

MTS: With growing proliferation of AI/ML technologies into marketing technologies, how do you foresee the landscape of neuromarketing evolving by 2020?
I believe neuromarketing will continue to evolve rapidly in the coming years. Just like any new technology it will follow the standard 5 state adoption curve—rejection, skepticism, over-optimism, realism, and adoption. At this stage, only the innovators have experienced neuromarketing and most people are still in the skepticism phase. It is only when marketers will have witnessed the unique insights that can be brought by neuromarketing that we will see a larger adoption. As with anything connected with the brain, the concepts are complex and the learning curve is steep. Marketers would have to learn a new language.

It took 40 to 50 years for marketing to mature so neuromarketing is still in its infancy. Now because the prices of the hardware and software necessary to run these experiments are coming down (a decent EEG helmet with 16 sensors now cost less than $10,000), because the processes to capture the data, and analyze and interpret the data are becoming easier and faster and because marketers now have access to a scientific model like NeuroMap to generate recommendations, and finally because more and more people are becoming proficient in these techniques, the progression of NeuroMarketing is inevitable.

MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Patrick.
Stay tuned for more insights on marketing technologies. To participate in our Tech Bytes program, email us at

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