Our brains hate change. Several studies have shown that people are twice as likely to seek information that confirms their beliefs than they are to consider evidence that contradicts them, as it is just easier! This is what is called “confirmation bias” and is something that we as marketers need to be aware of if we are going to have any influence on a buying decision.
I love combining science with marketing. If we can really understand the audience we are selling to and the human need that our product or service is actually fulfilling on, then we have a chance to influence the buying decision and overcome any confirmation bias.
Let me give you an example of a confirmation bias that is common in the city I live in, it is that “public transport that gets me around the city is terrible, it stinks, I would never take a bus as they are always late and don’t come that often anyway”. This is actually my confirmation bias also, so I am guilty of always looking for evidence that will support my perspective, “see the bus was late again”, “Council have spent all this money on new buses and bus lanes, what a waste of tax payers money!”
But what if the local Council was trying to get more people to take the bus around the city as that would help with congestion in the city, move people around quicker and give them a better return on the infrastructure they have just put in.
The biggest mistake I see is when they create marketing material that talks all about the features and benefits of the new bus system. Things like, our buses now come every 3 mins, they use gas so its good for the environment etc etc.
With my marketing hat on, this approach is just a waste of time and money knowing what I know about how we human make decisions. They are leaving it up to my brain to make the connection on more often, easier to catch to my meeting, my brain will never do that, it doesn’t even like change.
With my personal hat on, they are never going to get me to take the bus. In fact my brain probably won’t even filter this information so I even see it! And even if I do, I am not going to believe it anyway!
So as marketers what do we do?
Well, this is the exciting bit, we have a heap of neuromarketing tactics that we can deploy. All with the goal of first understanding the need of the customer (people like me) and then getting them to take a different action in order to then fulfil on that need. Simple?
Let me give you an example that helps solve my public transport confirmation bias in my city. Lets say, I drive into the city to attend my meetings as I can’t get the bus as they are always late and not reliable! My need is, I need a transport solution that I can rely on, so I drive in and park.
With a goal to get me to take a different action and still fulfil on my need, what if Council was to put up the price of parking?
I would get angry, but if the message as to why the parking was going up was because they were using that extra money collected to invest in more buses running around the city, to ensure they come more often and were therefore reliable, then that would get my attention.
I don’t want to pay the huge price of parking in the city, so I am looking to take a different action next time I have a meeting there. This disruption and challenge to my standard action is what will help my brain to see all the alternative actions that I could take instead of driving into the city. This is when I will see and consider the possibility of taking the bus. Especially if they are coming every 3 mins. (yes we do need some features and benefits but only after you have my attention).
The good thing about the human mind, is that if we can get our prospective customer to take this new action a number of times, we will actually change their behaviour! If I was Council that would be one less person that had a confirmation bias that transport around the city was no good when it came to election time!
Makes you think doesn’t it about what bias you may have that could be stopping you from seeing a new and better way to do something, a new and better product or service you could be using. For me, I have been working on stopping and thinking about my actions more, asking myself could this be a better option?
Understanding human behaviour is so important if you really want to connect with your audiences.
I love neuro marketing.