You’re watching a scary movie, and the main character is going to open that door or push that button that we all know they shouldn’t push. If you feel the character’s fear and “jump” when a ghost or an innocent kitty cat comes out of the closet, congratulations. You’re human, and you are feeling the effects of the brain’s mirror neurons.
Before I go into how solar marketers can use these mirror neurons to market solar, let me say that this is not an evil capitalist plot to brainwash customers into buying our solar products and services. From my non-scientist understanding, being aware of the effect of mirror neurons is simply a way to visually communicate about our solar products and services.
According to a simple definition that I found in Wikipedia:
A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another.
Thus, the neuron “mirrors” the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting.
So, these neurons don’t force anyone to act, but they do help people to feel what others are experiencing. There’s a lot of nuances for human biology, but let’s take that definition at its most basic level: When we watch a person do something, in or brains, it’s like we’re doing the same action ourselves.
When you think about it, we use our mirror neurons all of the time. There’s the aforementioned movie experience where we feel what the characters on screen are feeling, and there’s also the real life experience of us watching someone gorge on a chocolate sundae and suddenly feeling like we want one too. Similarly, we can see people laugh, and though we don’t know the context, we may smile or laugh with them. We can also watch strangers on the street being fearful or sad and feel equally fearful or sad without knowing the cause. Words alone can also create images in our heads, such as when we read the Harry Potter adventures. In our minds, we feel that we too are prisoners of Azkaban, though consciously we know we’re safe in our reading chairs.
Back in our solar marketing world, we’re always trying to communicate the benefits of solar power or our solar products. We generally do this through long-winded explanations and one or two photographs, but if we’d rather communicate through our mirror neurons, then the old adage of “A picture is worth 1000 words” is less of an adage and more of a solar communications technique.
And that’s where creative solar marketing takes over. It’s easy to show photos of a solar installer installing panels, but if we’re to use the mirror neurons most effectively, then the customer (probably an installer) must visualize himself or herself on that roof and feeling the satisfaction of installing that quality panel. That’s hard to convey in a single image, but perhaps easier to do with short videos that mix information with mirroring action.
Similarly in the residential space, we must think about how to visually convey the excitement and satisfaction of getting a solar system installed on one’s home with images, videos, and unique stories that connect with consumers’ mirror neurons.
The scenarios for all solar sectors and products are numerous. All you need to do is find ways to activate those mirror neurons… and to UnThink Solar.
Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” is a solar marketing and communications consultant and the author of Solar Fred's Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact him through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.
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