The Small BIG (speed summary) – 20 Psychological Nudges to get People to Buy and more...

The Small BIG (speed summary) – 20 Psychological Nudges to get People to Buy

small big

Here are 20 psychological nudges to get people to buy from ‘The small BIG – Small Changes that Spark Big Influence’, the new book on marketing persuasion by Persuasion Science rockstars psychologists Robert Cialdini and Noah Goldstein, and Steve Martin.

The small BIG a kind of Nudge meets Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion covering 50 small psychological nudges – drawn from psychological and behavioural science – that can make a big change the persuasive effectiveness of your marketing (or whatever/whoever you are trying to influence).

Many of the psychological nudges are built around Cialdini’s 6 universal persuasion principles (authority, social proof, scarcity, consistency, liking, reciprocity) and are based on the now-dominant idea that our minds have two systems for thinking and solving problems; (system) one – fast, intuitive and mostly unconscious, and (system) two – slow, reasoned and deliberate.

Most people spend most of the time using System 1, only hauling System 2 out to ponder when we absolutely have to. The psychological nudges covered in ‘The small Big’ involve presenting information in a way that fits the automatic biases and rules (heuristics) that make up our System 1 minds.

Here’s the first 20 psychological nudges for your delight and delectation – next week we’ll cover the remaining 30

  • Nudge 1: Nudge people to buy/pay using social proof by telling them about the large number of people who have already bought/paid (UK tax authority HMRC used this to boost payment from late-payers from 57% to 86%)
  • Nudge 2: Nudge people to adopt a new product (go against the crowd/convention) using negative competitor-user imagery by pairing crowd/convention behaviour with unpopular/undesirable people/groups
  • Nudge 3: Nudge people to buy by talking about the costs or benefits of deviating from the norm  (e.g. if buying is the/their norm, then highlight the costs of not buying (deviating from norm), but if buying is not the norm, highlight the benefits of buying (deviating from the norm)
  • Nudge 4: Nudge people to buy a new product (and thereby violate a social norm) using active social proof by showing others actively buying (or in the case of pro-social behaviour, if the social norm is to drop litter, show others picking up litter)
  • Nudge 5: Nudge people to pay attention by using their first name; first name cues our attention (cocktail party phenomenon – from the background din of chatter, you notice when someone uses your name)
  • Nudge 6: Nudge people towards buying by focusing both on how they have similar traits to other buyers and that they are dissimilar to non-buyers (focus on uncommon commonalities)
  • Nudge 7: Nudge people to spot marketing opportunities by pairing them with a fresh set of eyes (familiarity leads to opportunity-blindness)
  • Nudge 8: Nudge people to buy by first securing an active (and public) pre-sales commitment (e.g. sign up for information – for instance missed appointments dropped by 25% when patients filled in an appointment card themselves)
  • Nudge 9: Nudge people indirectly in small steps, by first encouraging them to engage (publicly if possible) in a low-cost activity consistent with buying, and then using further cues to trigger purchase.
  • Nudge 10: Nudge people to buy ‘sinful/guilty’ products by providing them with a way to offset the guilt and ‘licence’ the behaviour (e.g. placing recycling bins in a room will encourage wasteful behaviour)
  • Nudge 11: Nudge people using stories that illustrate the positive ’significance’ of purchase on others – rather than personal benefit.
  • Nudge 12: Nudge people by linking the desired behaviour (e.g. buying) to that of someone they know, whilst linking non-compliance (not buying) to losing (not losing is often a greater motivator than winning)
  • Nudge 13: Nudge people to buy with ‘implementation intentions’ by getting them to predict purchase as likely – and encouraging them to specify the details (when, where etc)
  • Nudge 14: Nudge people to buy with ‘future lock-in’ by inviting them to commit to buying in the future (e.g. subscriptions)
  • Nudge 15: Nudge people to buy now because they owe it to their future selves (moral responsibility to one’s future self)
  • Nudge 16: Nudge people to buy by framing the benefits of purchase as an attainable challenge. We are motivated by challenges, but only when we see them as attainable (5 a day fresh produce recommendation would work better if it was framed as a more attainable 4-6)
  • Nudge 17: Nudge people to buy by first framing their options as a choice between two purchases, and then pointing our what they stand to lose if they don’t choose the option you want them to take (AKA ‘Enhanced Active Choice’)
  • Nudge 18:Nudge people with deadlines – an offer of just a few days will yield more purchases than a more flexible offer with a long expiry date
  • Nudge 19: Nudge people to stay waiting in line/on hold rather than quit using distraction techniques – like Disney queues, give them something entertaining to distract their attention and feeling they are wasting/losing time
  • Nudge 20: Nudge people to buy using ‘preference for potential’ – the way we find future potential to be more compelling than past track record (people preferred a Facebook clip suggesting an artist could become the Next Big Thing, over the same clip suggesting the artist was currently The Next Big Thing’





Psych Eye for the Innovation Guy [Download]

trait tattoo

Digital innovation is not just about technology, it’s about the people who use it.

Understanding why people do the things the do is what psychology is all about, and so here’s a quick primer deck on need-to-know consumer psychology for innovators – focusing on three core insights (from an upcoming innovation training course)

  • The 7 Fundamental Problems – The human brain, with its 100 trillion synapses, evolved to solve problems and it is wired to focus on solving 7 fundamental, timeless and universal problems.  Unless your innovation solves one of these problems, your users/ mindswill be closed for business
    4. STATUS
    7. KIN CARE
  • Appeal to the Automatic ‘System 1′ Mind – Problems are so fundamental to human psychology,it appears that we have each evolved two problem-solving minds – System 1, which is automatic, fast, and mostly unconscious – and System 2, which is slow, deliberate and effortful. Research shows people are guided by the auto-pilot of System 1 problem-solving more than we’d think – and so the opportunity for digital innovation is to appeal to how the mostly unconscious System 1 problem-solving mind works
    1. Your innovation should ‘feel’ effortless – give instant and easy gratification (present bias)
    2. Your innovation should ‘feel’ good by evoking positive associations (emotions, memories) (affect heuristic)
    3. Your innovation has to feel ‘right’ because it’s consistent with what people already (confirmation bias)
    4. Your innovation should ‘feel’ familiar by building on category norms (availability heuristic)
    5. Your innovation should ‘feel’ empowering – giving people control over their lives (optimism bias)
  • Brand People, not Products – Ever since cattle were branded, branding has been about branding goods as a way to signal quality, reduce risk, and help people choose. But in advanced markets, brands have a new important function; people use brands to brand themselves – to signal what’s great about them, rather than the product.  To drive the psychological appeal of your brand, innovators can focus branding efforts on the six key dimensions of personal branding – based on the Big Five OCEAN human personality dimensions, and general intelligence (that together make up your ‘trait tattoo’)
    • i (General Intelligence) – smart is the new black – branding that helps people signal their smarts
    • Openness – branding that helps people signal their creativity and desire for change
    • Conscientiousness – branding that helps people display loyalty, care and attention to detail
    • Extraversion – branding that helps people display their social side
    • Agreeableness – brand that helps people display that they’re a good, nice person
    • Neuroticism – branding that helps people display their sensitivity



Apple Watch Confirms “Convenience Tech” as the Next Big Thing [Images]

Apple Watches

So the new black in digital is ‘convenience tech‘, and the new Apple Watch is looking to become a poster-child in convenience tech for today’s ‘convenience economy’.

It’s far more convenient to interact with many apps – from payment, to notifications and directions – without hauling out your phone.  It seems a such as small thing, but time and effort – the two core dimensions of convenience – matter, and the Apple Watch is designed to save you both. Like the popular on-demand mobile taxi service Uber, the Apple Watch buys you time and saves you effort.

Apple Watch Home

So how could your brand harness ‘convenience tech’ to help buy people time and save them effort in today’s emerging ‘convenience economy’ where time and effort are more precious and more scarce than money?

The first thing we need to do is unpack the meaning of convenience.  Conveniently ;-) , there has been a good deal of research – marketing and psychological – on this subject.  Of course, the concept of convenience in marketing is hardly new – the idea that successful marketing involves minimising time and effort costs to buyers was introduced as far back as 1923 in a Harvard Business Review article. But of the three big ‘consumer cost’ buckets  – money, time and effort – marketing has overwhelmingly focused on money – price paid – in the consumer value exchange.  Nevertheless, time and effort costs (convenience costs) matter too, and in today’s fast and busy economy, consumers are often willing to pay a price premium if you can reduce time and effort costs by enhancing convenience.

Moreover we know that convenience is multi-dimensional in terms of where it can add value, and research has identified fives type of convenience value that brands can offer throughout the consumer journey (see here for validation).

  1. Decision Convenience – Making it fast and easy to choose
  2. Access Convenience – Making it fast and easy to acquire
  3. Transaction Convenience – Making it fast and easy to pay
  4. Benefit Convenience – Making it fast and easy to enjoy/use
  5. Post-Benefit Convenience – Making it fast and easy to service/re-purchase

The breakdown of convenience makes explicit the benefits that convenience tech can deliver – and therefore provides a starting point for adding convenience value – and charging a premium.  But in addition to this physical or task-related convenience value, there is also ‘mental convenience’ – how fast and easy is it from an emotional (affective) or thinking (cognitive) perspective?  Some experiences are mentally inconvenient insofar as they take time and effort to process emotionally or cognitively.  From a psychology perspective – the goal of convenience tech is not only in reducing the behavioural load, but also the mental load.

  • Affective Convenience – making it emotionally fast and easy
  • Behavioural Convenience – making is behaviourally fast and easy
  • Cognitive Convenience – making it cognitively (thinking) fast and easy

Together these ‘ABC’ dimensions – affective (emotional), behavioural and cognitive – of personal convenience combined with key convenience points in the consumer journey we have a strategic framework for delivering convenience tech – a Convenience Value Matrix (click to enlarge/download).

So give the Consumer Value Matrix a whirl to see how you can future-proof your business with convenience tech for the ‘convenience economy’ and become the Apple Watch of your sector!


Apple Watch 3 apple watch 2 Apple Watch Maps Apple Watch Message Apple Watch Fashion Apple Watch Flex Watch Fitness

Apple Watch 5 Apple Watch Fitness 2



The Uberfication of Retail: Thomas Pink 90 Minute Shirt Delivery


Whilst Uber, the disruptive on-demand mobile taxi service, gets bounced from court to court in Germany – today it’s been banned again, before undoubtedly being unbanned, again – the rest of the world is progressing quite nicely with Uberfication (transforming the web into on-demand mobile services).

Take for example Thomas Pink, the popular London shirt tailor and retailer – their pretty brochureware and traditional e-commerce website has just been ‘uberfied’ into an on-demand mobile service that will deliver your shirt to your office – or wherever you and your mobile phone are located – in 90 minutes.  Useful for meetings when you need that fresh shirt.

Is this the beginning of the mainstream uberfication of retail? We’ve already seen disruptors offering on-demand mobile shopping services in the form of showrooming apps (Amazon), and retailers such as Amazon and Sephora offering on-demand mobile shopping information services – through augmented reality. And even Uber itself is getting in on the act rolling out its UberFRESH shopping delivery service.

Uberfication is a mindset thing – it starts with the on-demand mobile service value proposition.  Help me. Here. Now.  In other words, Uberfication starts at the point of need – wherever a and whenever, and then builds an on-demand mobile service for that point of need to, well, service that need.  Isn’t it time you began mapping need-points in time and space that your brand could monetise through an on-demand mobile service?






Display Value – Brand Psychology and Conspicuous Consumption [download]

Display Value

Here’s a short deck for brands looking to learn from The Ice Bucket Challenge - a form of ‘conspicuous compassion‘ – that like conspicuous consumption is all about ‘impression management’ – how we manage our public image through self-presentation.

The central idea that I’ve been working on for a while is that brands are missing a trick by focusing uniquely on the emotional value and the functional value they are delivering.  The big opportunity for us is to deliver ‘display value’ – helping people with their innate need to display their positive traits.  Comments welcome.




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