Turning Human Understanding into a Business Advantage

Last week ADMA spoke with Rory Sutherland Vice Chairman Ogilvy Group UK around the topic of behavioural economics and how to influence responses.

Marketers have long been searching theories on what impact a person’s decision-making process through consumer physiology. Many scientists are leaning towards neuroscience; however we need to align ourselves to a recognisable and more practical solution and refresh our thinking to turn human understanding into our business and social advantage.

Data has been a key factor for direct marketers in turning this understanding into a workable advantage but according to Rory, you need a model of behaviour first before you start interrogating it and allowing your data to do the work. If you don’t have an interesting model to work with, you may not know the questions to answer.

Establishing the norms of human behaviour will create value through behavioural economics and apply new learning to our brands and communications strategies. The trouble marketers are having is not getting their head around behavioural economics, but more so on how to build an intellectual framework to better justify the ideas generated as well as how to generate new and better ones. One thing that Rory touched on that reminded me of a similar point that BJ Fogg (Director of Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University) presented on at ADMA Forum last year, was about changing the small habits in your customer, daily to make a big influence and change. Rory says ‘Small things have large effect. The medium or the channel you request response has a huge effect on what response you get’. We need to understand our customers’ preferences first, and adapt to their way of thinking and doing.

So what does all of this mean? Do we need to become more specialised in the science of human physiology?

We had a well received blog post earlier this year titled The Rise of the Marketing Technologist” which debated the idea that we as marketers need to be all encompassing and integrated; the data expert knows creative and vice versa. Rory says however that we’re in ‘danger of getting overspecialised in what we do over the knowledge we have’, which will obviously lead us towards danger of not looking at the bigger picture and the basic model of consumer understanding.

We need to remove the traditional boundary stones of direct marketing and broaden our horizon to a new way of thinking.

For more on the topic of behavioural economics, Rory Sutherland will be providing an exclusive webinar The 360 Marketer this February. It’s free for ADMA members. Contact us now to register your interest.


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