Thanks to the lovely Adrian Wheeler, I was recently introduced to the concept of behavioural economics (BE) and the bundle of energy and enthusiasm that is Rory Sutherland. Whilst BE is a new concept to me, TED Talks are not… I love them, and I’ve watched a fair few, but I have to say that Mr Sutherland’s subject, style and appetite for satire make his talks extraordinarily entertaining.
One of the reasons I was so taken with the concept of BE is its founding in behavioural science, which speaks to the marketing campaign we launched for our own agency last year, Wildfire Labs. Labs is focused on the value of PR, the persuasion and influence strategies that work, those that don’t and generally how to make PR work better. So far, we’ve had a lot of fun conducting experiments and putting together some refreshingly retro-looking video content and making a few worthwhile discoveries too.
Getting serious about science
There is an awful lot to get your head around where behavioural science is concerned in order to understand and implement the many existing theories, but it also strikes me that learning more about this (still relatively new) subject area would certainly put marketing and PR practitioners in a position of strength – after all, knowledge is power, so they say. As an agency, we put PR at the heart of marketing, or in other words, we take a media-first approach to integrated communications for tech companies. Personally, as a marketing director for a PR company, this approach has some challenges (believe me!), but whatever approach you take, whatever marketing discipline you practice and whatever market you serve, the need to understand the audience, how they make decisions and why they make the decisions they do is the key to convincing and converting key audiences.
I’ve yet to properly understand ‘prospect theory’ and ‘bounded rationality’, but some elements of what I’ve read to date could very easily present quick wins. The idea that people make decisions based on emotional, logical or ethical grounds is easy to understand and buy into as a theory. With this in mind, building messages, narratives and stories that appeal to each of these personality types, surely delivers an immediate opportunity to create more influential communications, right? Needless to say, I’m only just scratching the surface on this subject, but I’ll be sharing my thoughts as I learn and apply relevant theories (is that a good thing… ??).
In the meantime, if you have any recommendations for material or books to read, videos to watch that will help me on my quest for the appliance of science, let me know, I’d be very keen to hear from you!