10 Basic Instincts in Behavioral Marketing

10 Basic Instincst in Behavioral Marketing Antonio Nunez

The Field Museum Photo Archives

Interested in applying behavioral marketing, behavioral economics or neuromarketing ideas to your daily marketing thinking? The Business of Choice: Marketing to consumers´s instincts is the book to read.

Its author, Matthew Willcox, is the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute of Decision Making (FCB). Willcox, a brand strategist by trade, makes the book entertaining, easy to read and, at times, even manages to add some humor –no easy feat considering the density of the topic.

As online we are slaves to brevity, popular tags and lists I will try to summarize the book in ten ideas hoping to intrigue you enough to read it.

Ten basic instincts to apply in your daily marketing practice (No Sharon Stone, sorry):

  1. The Choices humans make are driven by evolution. Think of consumers (or Choosers) as hominids whose brains were wired to survive the harsh conditions of millions of years ago.
  2. Ignoring is Decisional Bliss. As most of our behaviors are unconscious, ignoring rational information (cognitive biases) and creating emotional mental shortcuts (heuristics) are survival strategies.
  3. When in doubt, consumer’s gut feelings always go for the most familiar option. In a noisy party where you can hear multiple streams of sound, your brain is able to hear your own name when pronounced by a guest and to ignore the rest of the auditory information.
  4. People´s best indicators of what to do with information come from the signals they receive from other people. Non-verbal cues, facial expressions and social proof determine what we do with information. “The majority of guests staying in this very same room chose to reuse their towels” led to a 33% increase in guest reusing their towels, compared to generic environmental messages.
  5. People favor short instant gratifications to long-term gratifications. People will usually choose a smaller reward now than a bigger one later.
  6. Human are wired to prefer not losing than the possibility of winning. Losses loom larger than gains: Millions of years ago possessions were a result of great effort and sacrifice. Loosing or blunders were mistakes paid with your life.
  7. How people feel at the moment of making a choice can change the choice they make. We are suckers for flattery and marketing can help create self-esteem and confidence when consumers need to make a decision. Congratulations! You are about to make an excellent choice… sounds familiar?
  8. Human´s innate tendency to save physical and mental energy can work for you. Wired for survival mode, our bodies and brains prefer to choose the easiest and effortless choice. Millions of years ago life was hard enough, it was about saving energy (calories) and mental effort!
  9. People use comparisons as an intuitive form of navigation. When lowering prices on sales or discounts never remove the old price tag. People need that anchor to guide their purchase decision.
  10. Environments and Context affect our decisions

Bonus tracks. I lied to you. There are actually 12 basic instincts in the list. But hey, I am just applying behavioral ideas to my blogging… Had I written: “12 Basic Instincts in Behavioral Marketing”, you would have probably not read this entry (am I right?). Saving energy would have been your choice, reinforced by the Internet’s short attention span environment and context. 10 seems to be our humanoid limit! Go ahead, be superhuman and keep on reading.

  1. Nature and Nurture drive people´s choices. Genetic makeup, life experiences, Human nature and culture matters. Being right-handed or left-handed, the language you speak, your religion, or if you are the eldest or the youngest of your brothers factor into your decisions.
  2. The power of affirmation. Marketing is not only about getting people to buy your brand; it should also be about helping people feel good about their choices. This is key for brand loyalty and engagement.

And, we’re done. You made an excellent choice by deciding to read this post!

The Business of Choice Matthew Willcox

The Business of Choice: Marketing to consumers´s instincts (Pearson, USA, 2015).

How Google Planning is Endagering Cultural Strategy

Google Planning Strategic Planning Antonio Nunez

Picture by SDASM Archives

Google’s Analytics, Trends, Console and the rest of their suite of tools, in combination with Google search engine´s simplicity, have made many brand planners believe that you can come up with a great strategy by simply burying your head in a computer screen. This is what I affectionally call “The Google Planning Plague”.

The negative results of understanding Google tools as the only source for creating brand strategies are many:

-1. Planners are not trained in social and observational abilities, like connecting with strangers through empathy or reading consumers’ non verbal communication.
-2. Planners are content detecting people´s surface behaviors, they forget to dig deeper to discover the ever-evolving cognitive insights that are based in attitudes and values.
-3. Brand strategies do not touch base with consumer´s lives beyond the digital.
-4. Strategies lack a coherent narrative. There is a shortage of the most wanted word in the digital world today: Context.
-5. Planners have stopped reading novels, comics, watching movies or trying to understand our cultural past and brand genealogies. Any research that takes more than a few hours or is not already pre-digested with the hit of a button is removed from the strategic planning process.
-6. Account people and Clients are getting used to having “Strategy Decks” ready within hours.
-7. Agency Financial people and Clients are loosing the habit to sign or pay for research budgets.

By over-using Google analytical tools, some young strategist are making the same mistakes that we, the more seasoned strategists, made in the past. For several years we relied solely on another kind of “new technology” research tool: focus groups. Yeah. Focus groups were more convenient, mess-free and affordable than the “old fashioned” long walks in the street, visiting malls or consumers´ homes or the in depth interviews with experts and influencers. Focus groups were the equivalent of going to the movies: you just had to sit and watch. By over using focus groups, planners realized the hard way that they were not learning about everything that was there. Observation and one-to-one interviews need also be part of the research equation.

Planners are forgetting the art of what the great Douglas B. Holt called cultural branding: understanding the cultural context, subcultures and the genealogy of consumption myths.

Conducting direct observation ethnos should still be key in any planning strategy. As Y&R´s Global CSO Sandy Thompson usually says: “If you want to understand how a lion hunts, don´t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.”

Long live the trips to the jungle and long live Google´s suite of research tools.

For ideas and tips on marketing, storytelling and communication, you can join Antonio Nunez´s free newsletter at antonionunez.com or follow his Twitter @AntonNunez

Why Hyperspecialization is Killing Your Career

Maracas

Picture from Cugat´s longplay from StudioMONDO

BECOME THE BEST MARACA percussionist in the world and sit back to watch your career thrive.”

This is what my father would say to anyone seeking study or career advice.

My father was a child of the hyperspecialization economy that started with the postindustrial revolution. In the society he grew up in, his advice proved right: hyperspecialized careers were successful because a company’s competitive advantage was mostly based on efficacy (performance) and efficiency (cost). Hyperspecialized professionals were instrumental in delivering both of these elements.

His advice also worked for me. I chose to study marketing. The most profitable career strategy any marketer could adopt at the time was to find a niche discipline and learn to become the very best at it. CRM, digital, social, mobile marketing, you name it; there were plenty of opportunities to catch the right wave.

Back then marketers frequently compared the ideal marketing team to a symphony orchestra. The partiture functions as the operating manual and makes it possible for musicians, from different backgrounds and disciplines, to understand each other and play together in sync. In charge of the partiture compliance is the Orchestra’s Director, a seasoned musician with varied knowledge of how different instruments are played. This wide-ranging expertise gives him the knowledge to guide the specialized musicians during their performances. The Director is the one-in-a-million generalist talent in the orchestra.

The same happened in marketing. There were partitures (Marketing plans and brand bibles), orchestra directors (seasoned marketing directors) and musicians (marketers specialized in specific disciplines).

Things have changed, however, and in this new economy, my father’s advice on career hyperspecialization, could be poisonous. The most prized competitive advantage that companies currently seek is not efficiency or efficacy, but the ability to constantly break the mold.

Companies must embrace hybridization as a way to combine existing resources and ideas in new ways. In order to thrive, they need to be agile, flexible and imaginative enough as to always stay ahead of the ever-evolving desires of a technologically empowered consumer.

 If innovation is about hybridity then looking beyond your specialization is the fastest way of finding original inspiration, making surprising connections and getting disruptive ideas. You must be able to see the always-evolving bigger picture, leave your specialized jargon aside and integrate other colleague’s abilities, tools and working methods. This is the only way to create the perfect ad-hoc team that makes innovation possible.

The metaphor that describes the perfect marketing team of today is nothing like the old music orchestra. Instead, it is more like a free-entrance jam session.

The partiture is the result of a collective effort, like a jam session it’s improvised and democratic. Everyone needs to know how to play his or her instrument but likewise, there needs to exist a general interest and knowledge of how other’s instruments work as well, and how they add to the mix. During jam sessions, musicians should make room for the usual band of colleagues, but should also welcome outside special guests and partners (strategic allies and vendors, celebrities and influencers), as well as accept self-invited anonymous musicians (brand advocates and consumer generated content).

In order to thrive in our marketing careers we’ll need to get our heads out of our hyperspecialized cubicles and look outside the office windows in search for the next opportunity to break the mold.

I will advice my future children to be curious, to be ravenous and to play other instruments besides the maracas. It is time for the resurgence of the Renaissance Man and Woman.

For ideas and tips on marketing, storytelling and communication, you can join Antonio Nunez´s free newsletter at antonionunez.com or follow his Twitter @AntonNunez

Polemic Symbols and the Next Presidential Election

Flags in America by

Illustration by Christopher J. Ortiz @ChrisJOrtiz

On the TV screen, the passionate crowd sang submerged in a sea of crimson flags. “Look Grandma, look at how beautiful our red flag is”, I cried. I was literally jumping up and down from the joy of seeing the Spanish national soccer team appearing in the grass field.

My grandmother went mad. Grabbing me violently by the shoulders, she stared at me with terrified eyes. “For the rest of your life… don´t ever, ever repeat that word again!¨, she yelled. She realized then that I was trembling. “Son, you don´t say… that R word, you want to say colored”. I was confused: colored could be any color. “Obey. You will understand when you grow up”, she said pointing at me with her index finger.

As a Spaniard, I grew up in a culture that, fifty years after the end of the Spanish Civil War, was still violent, polarized and radicalized. Coexistence and respect were not easy, even among members of the same family. My grandfather was a policeman during the Franco dictatorship. My great uncle, on the other hand, was a Republican who had lost the war against Franco’s front. He was a political prisoner, forced to waste away most of his life in the Puerto de Santa María penitentiary. He was a so-called “rojo”, a red or, as my grandmother wanted me to say, a ¨colored¨.

These past few days, we have been immersed in an important debate around the use of words and symbols in America. President Obama’s use of the N-word in an interview, in which he talked about racism and discrimination, has been controversial. For some people, the context of the conversation legitimated the use of the word. For others, the term should never be used, under any circumstance, and the President committed a terrible mistake by doing so. Another controversial conversation around the topic of symbols is the Confederate flag, still waving in the State Capitol of South Carolina. For some, this flag stands for many noble Southern traditions. For others, it’s a symbol of white supremacy and segregation. Last, the LGBT community finally getting from the Supreme Court the equal right to the most symbolic ritual in modern society: marriage.

Millions of citizens felt the urge to join the debate, especially in social and traditional media were they were trending topics. But no matter how intense and passionate these debates have been, there are still many leaders who do not take them seriously. Too many politicians, CEO´s, journalists, celebrities and opinion leaders prefer to ignore symbols.

There is the “Fanatic of reality” type of leader: people who understand that the symbolic world is dissimilar from the real world, and not intimately intertwined. These “fanatics of reality” disregard debates around symbols as anecdotal “emotional issues” that should not distract society from dealing with “real, tangible problems”. They find debates around symbols a waste of time and social energy. Americans should not be debating around flags or words, but about the economy.

Then there is the “Conspiratorial theory” type of leader, those who consider symbols as distraction weapons, used by obscure groups of interest to manipulate the masses. They understand that participating in debates around symbols is a symptom of ignorance, gregarious behavior or lack of intellectual rigor. Serious people shouldn’t be trapped in conversations around flags.

There is also the third kind of anti-symbolic leader, an even more selfish type: the politician or leader who believes that by not taking sides in the debate, by not making their opinion public, will not loose any potential ally or vote.

I have worked with words and flags, symbols and rituals and archetypes and metaphors in different countries. I have learnt that these storytelling tools are key to all cultures. Symbols are not mere embellishments or sentimental memorabilia; they are cultural fuel that embody the past and help shape the future of societies. As storytelling animals, humans need symbols in order to dream, to be able to connect with others and to work and live together. Culture, a precious connective tissue, is ever-evolving; a corpus of stories and symbols that need to be continually reshaped by people.

flagwars

One of the most popular memes about the Confederate flag topic in America

Therefore, these discussions around the evolution of symbols are healthy and necessary. As a society with many contrasts, America cannot afford to ignore these strategic conversations, no matter how harsh, radical or polemic they might become.

On the contrary, what I find unhealthy is the myopic or selfish reaction of some leaders, from Presidential candidates to prestigious journalist, avoiding to participate in the debates surrounding these symbols.

Given the number, frequency and high voltage of these types of debates, and how quickly they become trending topics in America, I believe that one of the overarching stories of this upcoming 2016 Presidential campaign will be the coexistence of differences in this nation and the need to update many symbols and rituals. Candidates will need to work on proposals and ideas on how to heal historical wrongs, how to foster tolerance, conviviality and inclusiveness among the varied races, religions and identities of this wonderfully multicultural nation. Those Presidential candidates with vague or elusive answers to the use of national symbols and those who try to manipulate them in their benefit are not only lacking solutions to the problems or being irresponsible; they are also making a big political mistake.

My Spanish grandmother never got to experience the freedom of speech enjoyed in this country. I learnt from her that words, flags and rituals can help to heal the wounds of a nation… or to reopen them. If the power of storytelling through symbols can accomplish so much, our political leaders should not ignore their moral duty to construct social cohesion through them. They better give symbols the importance and respect they deserve for the good of this nation.

For ideas and tips on marketing, storytelling and communication, you can join Antonio Nunez´s free newsletter at antonionunez.com or follow his Twitter @AntonNunez

How to find conflicts for your brand storytelling

Amy Hempel picture by Unknown Author

Amy Hempel picture by Unknown Author

In order to create effective storytelling strategies, brands must resist their habitual tendency to want the general consensus of the total population. They must instead be bold and put down roots in conflict. It is not about being conflictual for the sake of conflict itself, it is about illustrating a polarizing interpretation of a cultural truth.

This narrative conflict potential should be the new definition for “consumer insight,” not the old “simple universal recognizable truth.” If your consumer insight is universally considered a truth, then it lacks the potential for narrative conflict. The challenge is to find the conflict that a brand can be identified with and go to town with it.

If conflict is the new brand idea, then stories are the new creative campaigns. This is why marketing and advertising professionals tasked with finding stories should learn from research journalists, an occupation profile that needs to be incorporated into our line of work. Planners can learn from reporter’s abilities of observation and research to find scoops. Creative Directors can learn from Editor’s capacity to curate stories. The first should be “storyfinders”, the latter should work as storytellers.

The journalist and writer Amy Hempel illustrated these abilities of observation and curation during an interview for the 166th issue of The Paris Review:

“I don´t feel I have a particularly large imagination, but I do have some powers of observation. Part of it stems from training as a reporter, when you are trained to see the salient points of any situation and see them fast. I can select the one thing that will tell you the most about a character, but this is just from looking around, not from thinking it up. Recently I overheard someone say that she had given a friends of hers a ladder. The gift of a ladder. The reason was that the friend was a woman who’ d just been widowed, and her late husband had been very tall. I’m sure I made a note of that.”

The search for inspiring stories that synthesize a brand’s conflict is becoming the primary activity focus of communication agencies. Advertising agencies are becoming a hybrid between a mythology lab, able to understand conflicts; a newspaper editorial room, able to find the perfect story; and a content producer, capable of making the narration of each and every story spectacular.

You can read the full interview at The Paris Review website here.

For ideas and tips on marketing, storytelling and communication, you can join Antonio Nunez´s free newsletter at antonionunez.com or follow his Twitter @AntonNunez

Storytelling As Seen In The Streets

Author: Unknown

Author: Unknown

For ideas and tips on marketing, storytelling and communication, you can join Antonio Nunez´s free newsletter at antonionunez.com or follow his Twitter @AntonNunez

Brand Storytelling to Spark Conversations

Content is the new king of marketing, they say. It´s not. Content that make people talk is.

Renault UK created a life sized Scalextric race in London featuring the all-electric Renault ZOE.

Nike created a chalkbot to promote their LiveStrong campaign during the Tour de France 2009. While people, in real time, send texts to a web, a robot wrote their messages on the road.

Starting in 2011 the Colombian Ministry of Defense promotes demobilization amongst FARC guerrilla members during Christmas. For their campaigns they set up illuminated Christmas trees in the middle of the forest and invite guerrilla member´s families to send messages to their relatives in capsules distributed by letting them float down the rivers. In the capsules, the families put letters, pictures or small Christmas presents. Their letters usually ask their relatives to demobilize and come home.

It doesn´t matter if these campaign executions look poorly  made or even fake, if they are advertising or propaganda or if they are traditional advertising, guerrilla campaigns or Ideas Bigger than an Ad. They all work because they reach their goal: they make people talk about them. And people do it because the stories have conflict, they are full of emotions and sensations and they contain truth. Let your story spread the word.

Brand Storytelling is not about using the old broadcast mentality: producing static content. It´s about helping people to engage in conversations around contents.

For ideas and tips on marketing, storytelling and communication, you can join Antonio Nunez´s free newsletter at antonionunez.com or follow his Twitter @AntonNunez

Antonio Núñez: El futuro del storytelling según Coca-Cola

Jonathan Mildenhall, Vice-presidente y Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence en The Coca-Cola Company es responsable de la estrategia creativa de la totalidad del portafolio de marcas de Coca-Cola. En estos dos vídeos, creados mediante dibujos por The Cognitive Media, se explica su visión sobre el futuro del Storytelling. La evolución del storytelling pasa por transformar el storytelling unidireccional en otro bidireccional, y de atreverse a usar la tensión y el conflicto.  Dos frases muy relevantes: “every contact point with a customer should tell an emotional story” (cada punto de contacto con el consumidor deber contar un relato) y “we alll need to use conflict constructively as conflict can be an enabler of outstanding creative thinking” (Todos necesitamos usar el conflicto de forma constructiva, porque el conflicto puede ser el catalizador de un pensamiento creativo sobresaliente).

Más información sobre storytelling y comunicación en www.antonionunez.com
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