Biz Tips: Hard Truth: We Buy Based On Gut Instinct and Convenience

Biz Tips: Hard Truth: We Buy Based On Gut Instinct and Convenience

Biz Tip:

Hard Truth: We Buy Based On Gut Instinct and Convenience

Woman offering a Speedo bathing suit to her terrified cat

Most domestic cats prefer to avoid water (there are some exceptions). Which brings us to this wonderful line from psychologist Daniel Kahneman:

“Thinking is to humans as swimming is to cats; they can do it but they’d prefer not to.” –Daniel Kahneman, psychologist & Nobel Prize winner

Professor Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. The above line appears in his best-selling book, Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Kahneman says our minds have two systems of thought: the first is fast, automatic, instinctive– we can’t really control it. The second requires logic and analysis: it’s slow, deliberate, and takes sustained effort; i.e., it’s painful.

What this means for marketers: most decisions are made by gut instinct (System #1). Richard Shotton puts it this way:

Even when we think we’re making reasoned conscious decisions often the conscious mind is merely post-rationalizing decisions that have already been made. –Richard Shotton, behavioral scientist & best-selling author

Shotton goes on to describe a psychology experiment at a food market selling gourmet jams:

They set up a stall at a posh food market selling a range of gourmet jams. They alternated between offering six and 24 varieties of jam. While the large display attracted more interest than the small one, people were 10 times as likely to buy from the stall with the smaller variety of choice…

The psychologists concluded that consumers failed to buy at the more varied stall as the choice became too effortful… (worrying, perhaps) that one of those unchosen goods would have been a better use of their money.

A similar “tyranny of choice” has occurred in pop music: rather than wade thru hundreds of little-known independent artists, consumers retreat to the familiar and easy-to-find; i.e., established superstars.

All of which jibes very nicely with Rory Sutherland‘s contention that most brand choices are the result of convenience, and that in order to justify our choice, we then decide we like that brand.

Quite a lot of evidence from both behavioral sciences and from neuroscience suggests that we act first and form our opinions in light of our actions. –Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy UK

Paul Cash, CMO of Rooster Punk, a B2B storytelling agency, sums up Mr. Kahneman’s findings this way: We don’t like to think too hard, and our purchase decisions are emotional, not rational. His advice:

Keep it simple. Make sure the content you create is simple, truthful and engaging. Make social, social. Too many facts and figures will turn buyers away. –Paul Cash, CMO, Rooster Punk

I’d add the following:

1. Make getting noticed your top priority– otherwise no one will stop to think about what you have to offer.

2. Less is more. I see too many infographics crammed with too much information.

3. Since purchasing decisions are instinctive (emotional), create content that stirs emotions.

4. Tell stories– because they’re all about drawing people in, emotionally.

5. Use visuals– because they’re easier to process than text (but please note: stock images will be ignored).

6. Use humor– because it disarms. You can’t connect with people who have their shields up.

In The Adventure Of The Norwood Builder, Sherlock Holmes mentions the supreme gift of the artist: knowing when to stop.

That’s something every marketer needs to know, too.

Illustration by Mark Armstrong.

Originally published on Mark Armstrong Illustration.

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