As marketers, we are paid to get people to take an action, usually one that improves the financial or mission performance of an organization (sales, money-donated, customer retention, etc…). We are trying to get people to buy, buy often, support our cause, tell others how great our organization is, sell our products better if they are in the sales channel.
Driving People to Action
Direct marketers often see the problem as all about the data. Data is their truth. Test enough tactics long enough and you will have refined a profitable approach. Brand marketers too often talk about changing people’s attitudes or opinions. Social media marketers rely heavily on driving forms of “engagement” as an end onto itself.
But in the end, we are trying to drive people to take actions. One of the best improvements to the Creative Brief was adding the simple question “What do we want people to do” as a result of our communications. That’s the one we use now.
If our job is to drive behaviors, then we must be students of behavior. I grew up on all sorts of great behavioral economics POVs from the Heath Brothers to Dan Ariely to Robert Cialdini. They translated research and often complex psychological topics into simple yet meaningful principles. One of the biggest challenges is how to move from what is a growing list of principles into a full-proof, one-size-fits-all planning model for communications. And while the Heath Bros came up with the SUCCESs model and Robert Cialdini focused on the six principles of persuasion (pictured above), it is almost impossible to get beyond a growing collection of testable principles.
The Small Big
Now Robert Cialdini has a new resource which compiles many of these principles into one place written with Noah Goldstein and Steve J. Martin). The Small Big inventories many of the research-driven findings about what makes us make choices and actually do things.
Dr. Paul Marsden does a great job of compiling what he calls “Speed Summaries” of The Small Big. It’s worth browsing on your way to buy the book. Here’s some of what he captures:
Nudge 1: Nudge people to buy/pay using social proof by telling them about the large number of people who have already bought/paid (UK tax authority HMRC used this to boost payment from late-payers from 57% to 86%)
Nudge 11: Nudge people using stories that illustrate the positive ’significance’ of purchase on others – rather than personal benefit.
Nudge 12: Nudge people by linking the desired behaviour (e.g. buying) to that of someone they know, whilst linking non-compliance (not buying) to losing (not losing is often a greater motivator than winning)
Nudge 15: Nudge people to buy now because they owe it to their future selves (moral responsibility to one’s future self)
Now, these one-liners may seem cryptic. They are also deceiving because the book is a real book, not just a book of tips. You have to read and figure out the relevance of the study or point it is talking about to your work. But that is what students do – read, analyze, interpret.
4 Facts about Decision-Making
The Neuromarketing blog by Roger Dooley (et al) is a consistent source of strong thinking that applies behavioral economics to practical digital marketing. A recent post from guest blogger, Jeremy Smith, does a great job of applying core concepts like confirmation bias and narrow-framing to actual digital marketing choices in his post: 4 Facts About Decision Making That Will Improve Conversion Rate Optimization
The post is worth the read and the conclusions are valuable:
“Customers are only considering a few options. Make sure your option is one of those.
Customers will reject data that conflicts with their decision. Use emotional arguments to persuade them otherwise.
Customers make emotional decisions. Influence these emotions to help them move easily towards a conversion.
Customers crave post-purchase confidence. Affirm them in their decision.”
I find it valuable to be constantly reading and learning about principles that drive behavior even if they are some of the same lessons packaged up differently or rediscovered as if they were fire. It’s how I keep them top of mind and try them out just as we apply other variants in marketing to see what works best. The best combination seems to be a clear understanding of what principles drive behavior and then the practical application of them in a direct marketer’s testing routine.
(image: thanks to Iliyana Stareva for the visual image of Cialdini's six principles)