Live From DMA 07: Four Ways to Leverage Human Behavior
Social scientists have shown human beings have developed shorthand ways of making decisions—instinctive or reflexive actions in response to certain stimuli. As marketers, we can leverage these instincts to make our materials stronger. Here are four basic human behaviors and how marketers can use them to their advantage.
• People respond to authority figures. Social scientists have found that because we don’t have the time to research everything, we’ll defer to someone who appears to be an authority on the subject. Habitat for Humanity leveraged this behavior when it put Rosalynn Carter’s name in the cornercard of its fundraising solicitation. With all the competing charity appeals, it has the advantage of an endorsement by the former first lady, leading people to believe it must be a worthy cause. Another example is The Industry Standard outer envelope that listed big names such as Steven Jobs, cofounder, Apple Computer; Scott McNealy, CEO, Sun Microsystems; and Mary Meeker, managing director, Morgan Stanley. These names were followed by the copy: “They get it. Find out why we’re the internet standard.” People make the assumption that if the magazine is good enough for these captains of industry, it must be good.
• Long copy is more trustworthy. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, all things being equal, people are more apt to trust long messages over shorter ones—regardless of the quality of the information or whether they’ve even read it. The thinking is that if there’s a good deal of copy, it must be believable. So don’t be afraid to include a brochure, buckslip or whitepaper in your mailings. Even if every word is not read, their presence may help make the sale.
• The negative can be more compelling than the positive. Scientific studies have confirmed that the avoidance of pain can be a more powerful motivator than the achievement of pleasure. Boardroom Inc. has used this tactic to great success in its long-standing “What never to eat on an airplane” control for Bottom Line/Personal.
Nancy is the Chief Creative Officer at Wilde Agency. Her specialty is blending best-of-breed creative with decision science to prompt response. Along the way, she’s been named NEDMA Direct Marketer of the Year, Ad Club Top 100 Creative Influencer, OMI Top 40 Digital Marketing Strategist, and Andi Emerson Award recipient. Prior to Wilde Agency, Nancy held senior creative management positions with Hill Holliday, Mullen and Digitas.