A weekly podcast with the latest e-commerce news and events. Episode 225 is an interview with Dr. Jonah Berger, marketing professor at Wharton, and bestselling author of Contagious, Invisible Influence, and The Catalyst.
Dr. Jonah Berger (@j1berger) is a marketing professor at Wharton, and author of New York Times bestsellers Contagious and Invisible Influence. His latest book, The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind (affiliate link), introduces a revolutionary approach to change. Successful change isn’t about pushing harder or exerting more energy. It’s about removing barriers. Overcoming resistance by reducing friction and lowering the hurdles to action. Discover the five hidden factors that impede change, and how by mitigating them, you can change anything.
In this broad ranging interview, we discuss the major themes from The Catalyst, including the five barriers to taking action, and strategies to overcome those barriers. Listeners will learn not only how to persuade customers and prospects, but also how to be a catalyst for organizational change within our companies.
Don’t forget to like our facebook page, and if you enjoyed this episode please write us a review on itunes.
Episode 225 of the Jason & Scot show was recorded live on Friday, June 26, 2020.
[0:24] Welcome to the Jason and Scot show this is episode 225 being recorded on Friday June 26th 2020 I’m your host Jason retailgeek Goldberg and as usual I’m here with your co-host Scot Wingo.
[0:39] Hey Jason and welcome back Jason Scott show listeners Jason the stars have aligned up and we have kind of the pandemic to thank for this it’s the one of the Silver Linings and you and I have long admired a couple of academics and we had Dan on the show last time and then we have another academic here that comes from
the world of marketing and persuasion so I want to hear his bio from his words but we’re excited to welcome Wharton Professor Jonah Berger to the show welcome
[1:11] Thanks so much for having me.
[1:13] We are thrilled to have you I’m a big fan.
Before we jump in do you mind maybe giving our listeners like your brief background and also like we’re going to talk about your latest book cattle aspect if you could also touch on your previous works that would be awesome.
[1:31] Sure so in my day job I’m a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania have been there for about
13 years do a lot of research on social influence change word of mouth and my products ideas and behaviors catch on.
A few years ago I wrote a book called contagious why things catch on which changed my life a little bit the core I’m an academic so I love research and teaching
at that book came out and it’s now out in over half a million copies in 35 languages around the world
gave me the opportunity to work with a lot of companies and organizations so,
I learned a lot more about marketing than I ever had getting a chance to work with everything from Big Fortune 500 is like the Googles and the Nikes and the apples of the world to small startups and everything in between and I’ve really enjoyed learning about how both marketing works at different organizations but
but how business works
different places and every industry is obviously different but there’s a lot of interesting commonalities between different organizations and that’s part of what drove me to write the newest book.
[2:34] That is awesome and Scott alluded to but in our last episode we had Dan McCarthy on who’s a warden alum.
[2:43] Fantastic yeah I know Dan quite well.
[2:46] So this is a fun series for us I’m used to being the second smartest guy on the show and it’s now annoying that I’m like I’m falling further down the list.
The so one other thing before we jump in that I think is important for Scott and our listeners to know you’ve been a Jeopardy question.
[3:03] I had nothing to do with it but I got a random text one night going to do you watch Jeopardy and I said
of course not why no I have watched Jeopardy but I’m not an average Jeopardy Watcher and they said you’re on Jeopardy and I said what do you mean and so yes I have been a question on Jeopardy was very nice of them to include me,
and I don’t know why they picked me but it’s very very nice.
[3:29] It’s one of those random things we start getting all these texts and it’s kind of funny.
[3:33] Yeah one other word in question there seems to be just like a big Nexus of activity in e-commerce Innovation there I don’t know if that is coming out of the MBA program or your side or do you all kind of work on it together so
Dollar Shave Club and bonobos aren’t a lot of those kind of digitally native vertical Brands didn’t they have origins in Wharton.
[3:55] Yes yes oh I actually had the Warby Parker guys in my class
and a number of years ago as they were building and they’re nice enough to come and speak in my current MBA class every year and sort of tell students what it’s like to sort of grow a company from from start to finish but yeah definitely a lot of interesting stuff in that space going on
also a lot of interesting work going on and kind of natural language processing and taking unstructured data text Data language data weather
collected online or off and starting using it to extract behavioral insights.
[4:24] Do you guys have a track in the MBA program all these folks are going through or just kind of ended up being a cohort that was just kind of awesomely successful.
[4:32] You know I think it’s a little bit more of the latter they’re certainly more interested in these topics and more kind of research and discussion about these topics and I think if one person does it other people look and go oh that’s an interesting path let me let me check that out and apply it to a different sort of domain and so you see a lot of social influence at work even within the students and
and within career choice.
[4:52] Got it cool let’s jump into the book so I’ve tried to use the pandemic to add some new skills I got introduced to the ideas of persuasion through the Dilbert guy Scott Adams I don’t know if you’ve read any of his stuff,
I found that nice lead adjustable and then then he kind of points you to chill be me if I’m saying that right.
[5:13] Yes child in yes.
[5:14] Yes that was like a little too academic for me and then I found your stuff sits kind of nicely in the middle there so for for folks that are kind of new to this idea of persuasion
give us a an idea of where is the science on this and that’s a good segue into probably why you wrote the book but you know what you know
a lot of people feel like it’s kind of mumbo-jumbo the kind of persuasion thing but it seems like there’s some really good kind of you know science behind the snow.
[5:44] Yeah I mean people have been doing research on persuasion for decades so I don’t want to say a hundred years but we’re probably close to a hundred years of empirical work on persuasion obviously many.
They work a philosophy of work before that,
lots of great research coming out of whether it’s psychology or sociology or other related domains business school domains looking,
how do we change Minds how do we change Behavior how do we drive action,
you know sometimes it may seem like random or luck you know many of us may think you have to be really persuasive person is that individual differences and being charismatic.
You know some of that certainly helps but a lot of its just about tools a lot of its you know if you have if you know the right tools and approaches and ways of generating change anybody can do it and so,
you know that’s what I and others really try to spread the word about as you know you don’t have
to be I’m not the most persuasive Communicator I don’t give the best speeches you know
in my own life it’s not like everyone listens to me all the time but I think if we understand why people change and when people change and also when people don’t change and the science of persuasion and change we can be much more effective change agents.
[6:55] Yeah it’s been a i
I kind of started working on it really more cuz I’m a I’m an engineer and it’s always been hard for me to be a good salesperson so so I was kind of trying to use it for that but I found it like super useful for pitching and then a lot of internal stuff too so so getting
more people on board with what you’re trying to do so using some of the tools there the thing that blows my mind is so so I kind of went through a cycle of disbelief around persuasion the now I’m a Believer and then there’s pre suasion where you can actually Prime people to better receive your message which is kind of,
I’m kind of in the mind blown adoption of that now too.
[7:29] It could be here.
[7:31] Yeah and then the other thing before we dive into specifics at a high level is I think it’s really interesting how social networks in many ways are these little Persuasions engines that you know they measure your.
They have analytics with clicks and what you react to and how you react to it you have a point of view on social
got you know kind of like the Facebook thing like are those good for society or they have the kind of gone over to the side of evil like a lot of people are coming out of Facebook and saying you know we purposely build these things to be addictive and give you a little dopamine hit
kind of and then accelerate that cycle have you ever thought about that.
[8:08] Yeah I mean I think what’s challenging is that tools are tools and those tools can be used for good or bad
right so you can use a hammer to build a house you can use a hammer to hurt someone
you can use persuasion the science of persuasion to get people to eat healthier and save the environment and you can use them to get people to buy things they don’t need the tools are the same it’s how we use those tools and so you know I certainly think Facebook
and other online Technologies connect people and speed the flow of information which can be great in many ways these tools can also speed this read of disinformation and make people dissatisfied and unhappy and so
you know part of the challenge with today’s day and age and data is you know anyone that has access to individual level data is trying to make their products.
More engaging right each of us would prefer to go to a website and have that website show content that’s more relevant to us rather than less.
Right you know none of us want to go online and see articles were not interested in we want to see articles we’re interested in the problem,
that though is that creates an incentive for these sites and platforms to design content that’s more engaging based on the stuff we like which does make it more difficult.
And so I think you know they’re both upsides and downsides and it’s.
And less regulations going to come in and regulate these spaces it’s really up to us as individual consumers to say what do I want to get out of these platforms and what don’t I want to get out and how can I take advantage the upsides and avoid the downsides.
[9:35] That’s awesome and I want our listeners to learn how to do that but before we jump into it.
Once one set of contacts that I think is super interesting most of our listeners are like e-commerce operators digital Shopper marketers and they hear you in there I guarantee you they’re immediately going to.
Oh man there’s stuff I can learn here to persuade my customers to act in the way I want like you know buy more stuff or or not cancel or.
Make purchase decisions that are beneficial to them and.
There’s a lot of stuff we can talk about their to me what’s interesting is these days I spend a lot more time with clients.
Helping them affect internal changes that they want to change their the digital team and they’re trying to convince the CEO to.
To wean into digital more or break down silos or or you know affect all these organizational changes that.
Really difficult changes for people to to accept and so you know frankly when I read Catalyst I read it primarily through the lens of.
Oh man there’s a lot of practical advice for me in helping coaching clients to affect the organizational changes that they see.
[10:54] Yeah this is actually a perfect segue to I think what you guys were talking about going to next but you know this is the same thing I sort of realized right so you know I after contagious came out I got a chance to work with all these different organizations,
and I kind of saw that everyone had some version of the same goal.
You know they all had something that they wanted to change sure that the marketers wanted to change consumer Behavior there’s an
you know sales folks want to change clients minds but the leaders want to transform his ations employees want to change their bosses mind you know Parts the organization want to get other parts by in parents want to change their children’s Behavior Starbucks want to change Industries nonprofits want to change the world.
We all have something that we’re trying to change whether that’s external,
internal Even in our personal lives but often change is really hard you know often we push and we pressure and we could Joel and we had more reasons and facts and figures,
nothing happens and so the question I started to wonder is you know
could there be a better way and after diving to literature and conducting new studies and you know engaging in interviews with hundreds of professionals you know everyone from top-selling salespeople to transformational leaders you know I’m happy to report that there
is a better way and it just requires that we think about change a little bit differently than we’ve been thinking about.
[12:09] I love that I mean can’t you we effect change by just yelling louder for people to change.
[12:14] You know I we laugh I laughed when you said that I think everyone who’s listening that goes on that’s ridiculous that’s what we all do all the time.
Right so you know I.
Some survey work at the outset of this project and sort of asking people don’t write something down that you want to change or that you’ve wanted to change and then list the ways that you’ve tried to get people to change.
And over 98% of the time,
it’s some version of basically yelling its let me provide more reasons let me provide more facts let me provide more figures let me make another PowerPoint deck let me make another sales call let me just convince you that this is good if you just had this piece of information you’d come around.
Pushing Hazard call it really isn’t working you know I think a good way to think about is you see a chair in middle of the room and you want to move that chair pushing is a great way to get that.
Chair to move how do you push on one side of the chair the chair will go.
Want to go and and so we use that same intuition when we apply it to people you’ve got a person you want that person to go in a certain way you think pushing that person is the right way to go but the problem is that people are not chairs.
Right when you push chairs chairs go when you push people they push back and so pushing just isn’t going to cut it.
[13:28] Yeah the brutal example that made it totally real for me in my own life is you know it work I like to think I’m a Nuance guy and somewhat persuasive and have all these these robust interactions with folks.
But I’m now the dad of four and a half year old.
[13:46] Yeah yeah but man you go tribal really quick right and you know he’s not doing what you want and you know.
Guttural instinct is just to I tell him to do it and it turns out that does not work at all with a for you.
[14:02] Yeah I actually have an almost three-year-old and I feel very much the same way that you do you know I think pushing pushing off and doesn’t work and so
you know I think what’s been interesting about sort of looking at this space and so you know pushing doesn’t work.
What does and so I’ve spent the last year’s diving to the research interviewing all these folks and what was need to me is you know you talked about being a parent and indeed actually talk to not only business professionals but people from other Industries,
you see a lot of the same things coming up in different places so actually some of the techniques top-selling sales people are using was actually the same thing
parenting experts tell you to do with your kids
it’s just called different things you know I interviewed hostage negotiators and substance abuse counselors the type of approaches they use are the same things that some transformational leaders were doing
the underlying science was the same,
but they weren’t necessarily calling it the same thing or thinking about it the same way and so what I think was really neat about this book is seeing the same stuff again and again you know to me what I kept seeing is
pushing doesn’t work we need to take a different approach and that approach basically comes from chemistry you know in chemistry change takes forever,
it takes forever to turn carbon into diamonds it takes forever to turn plant matter into oil and so chemists often increase the temperature and the pressure.
[15:18] Squeeze things harder increase the temperature it forces them to change but there’s a special Sefton set of substances that chemists often use that essentially makes change easier
makes it faster makes it better and they don’t use temperature and pressure they actually use a different approach and that approach is to lower the barriers to change
the substance don’t you know force people to do something or Force the material together they essentially reduce the amount of energy by figuring out what the obstacles are and mitigate them.
These substances do everything from clean you know that Grime on our contact lenses to clean our car’s engine people won dozens of Nobel prizes for research in the space and these substances are called catalyst
and what’s really neat about the idea of catalyst and we think about candles in the social world is just people that create change as change agents but catalyst have a very specific approach really good catalyst.
Push harder they go why hasn’t this person changed already and what is preventing them.
[16:13] Rather than pushing think about what are the barriers to change one of the things getting in the way and how to mitigate those those barriers and you know across across my research I found again and again that the same five things kept coming up
and so I put them in the book you know and we’ll talk maybe about a couple today but the first is reactants the second is endowment third is distance the fourth is uncertainty.
And the fifth is corroborating evidence and each of these are an obstacle that tends to get in the way where they were trying to change minds or drive action
you put all five of them together they and spelled the word reduce and as exactly what great Catalyst do.
Catalyst don’t push harder and provide more facts more reason they don’t just yell louder great Catalyst do is they find the barriers they find the obstacles and they reduce.
[16:58] And for listeners at home they can’t can’t visualize the framework it’s because Jonah cheated he used to others for collaborating evidence so that.
[17:08] Grumbling evidence does have two letters it’s two words but I agree with you it is a small cheat if we’ll call it that.
[17:15] Exactly to make a good mnemonic mnemonic wow I can’t say that.
[17:18] You need a mnemonic for new money the so let’s dig into one let’s talk about the first barrier which is reactants.
[17:28] Yeah and so I think to talk about reactants I’ll just use a story if it’s okay it’ll take a couple minutes but I think it illustrates the point nicely
this is a story about a product deck sure that many of your listeners are probably pretty familiar with and that is those things that we throw in the laundry called Tide Pods so many of you probably use Tide Pods but you probably know the story behind them and and that is that a few years ago tide was trying to figure out how to make laundry doing faster easier they wanted to come up with something which wouldn’t get your hands sticky and already pre-measured and it could release
difference where the car goes into the laundry at different times they came up with these things called Tide Pods that’s a little packets truck in the lon.
Free they’re wonderfully help do you want to read and make it much better this pain
hundred million dollars in marketing thought they could take a big chunk of the billion-dollar laundry market so they released iPods Tide Pods do okay but then there’s a problem.
[18:19] And that problem very simply is that people are eating them and I want to pause there for a second because some of your lists are probably going no no I must have misheard him like.
I thought he said eat them there’s no way people would be eating these chemicals no you didn’t mishear me people are eating chemicals so there was a funny video on CollegeHumor a satirical article on the onion suddenly young people are challenging each other online to eat
Tide Pods it’s called The Tide pop Challenge and so imagine you’re a tide executive Procter & Gamble executive when this is happening you’re sitting there going
what are we supposed to do people are eating detergent you know this is ridiculous we’ve got to do something so they do it most organizations will do they come out with announcement saying don’t eat Tide Pods.
[19:00] They’re bad to eat don’t eat them and in case that’s not enough that her a celebrity Rob Grog Gronkowski to go on social media shoot a short video telling everybody not to eat Tide Pods they think this will be enough.
They think that telling people not to do it.
Be enough and that’s exactly when all hell breaks loose so search interest in Tide Pods goes up over 400% visits to poison control go up as well more people come to into poison control with sort of,
tide pod related injuries and have come in in the next two weeks and the prior two years essentially a warning becomes.
Telling people not to do something makes them more likely to do it.
[19:38] And I know most your listeners will probably be never faced with this exact situation but it’s an example of a much broader phenomenon and that is real.
[19:46] Right when pushed people don’t just go along they push back it’s not just that when you tell people not to do something and makes them more likely to do it even when you encourage people to do something.
It makes them less likely to do it and the reason if the core is that people have an ingrained anti persuasion radar.
Essentially almost like a spidey sense or an anti-missile defense system and any time someone tries to persuade them that system goes off.
People want to feel like they have freedom and autonomy over their choices why did I buy a product when I use the service I did it because I wanted to do.
I’m in the driver’s seat I made the choice because I liked it I have freedom and control over my life
but as soon as someone else tries to influence them where that person is emboss where that person is a colleague or that person is a marketer through an ad or other means
now they feel that reactants because it’s not clear whether I like something because I like it
well I’m interested in something because someone else told me I should do it and if someone else is telling me I should do it well then I’m less interested in doing it in the first place the the anti persuasion radar goes up I avoid the message I ignore it or even worse I counter arguments
I think about all the reasons why what someone is suggesting is wrong right and so all of that makes it really hard to persuade people
and so you know reactants is clear hopefully explains the science reactants but then you know if useful I’m happy to talk about a couple ways to reduce it because I think the key Insight is that selling is not going to work.
[21:06] Yelling is not going to work right we can’t sell people we have to get them to buy in we can’t persuade people we’ve got to get them to persuade themselves by giving them back some of that freedom and autonomy and guiding choices rather than forcing.
[21:20] Can we just tell people not to buy our products.
[21:22] That’s a good I will write that down on the list I’ll put that one in the next.
[21:27] You guys joke but there is a very well-regarded brand Patagonia and their their most successful campaign every year is it holiday they run a giant ad called do not buy this jacket.
And it’s it works fabulously for them not sure it’s totally repeatable but yeah.
So if that doesn’t work right how do we use that to have do we use our awareness of reactants to more effectively persuade.
[21:58] Yeah so I think there are a couple ways
and so the first I’ll call kind of providing a menu I talked about for in the book maybe I’ll mention maybe to briefly here but but one is what I call providing a menu
and the intuition there is very simple whether you’re presenting to a client whether you’re trying to pitch a boss or a colleague in a meeting we’re often trying to convince people to do something
and the problem with doing that is they’re not just sitting there listening their anti persuasion radar goes off they know we’re trying to convince them and so they spend the whole meeting or the whole pitch think about all the reasons why what we suggest.
[22:33] Sure marketer you say your product or service is great but why wouldn’t you say it’s great it’s yours right you’re going to tell us about all the reasons why we should buy it
but that’s probably not right sure colleague you think we should start this new initiative or spend more money on digital but
you’re in the digital Department of course you would think that right where that where’s that money going to come from how do we know the digital is going to grow and there’s the future of our business you know how are we going to reposition employees who are we going to hire was like a high school debate team member they spend the whole meeting poking holes and what you’re saying leading your argument to crumble.
And so what great Catalyst good change agents do is they don’t just give people one option they give them multiple.
[23:09] Don’t just give them one potential Direction one potential product when potential service they give them a few and what doing that does is it shifts the role of the listener.
Rather than sitting there and thinking about all the reasons why they don’t like what you suggested now they’ve got a different job now they’re sitting there going huh which of these do I like better.
And because they think about which one they like better they’re much more I could have pick one
at the end of that meeting or at the end of that pitch because they focused on the upside is in some sense rather than a downsides and I call that providing a menu because notice what you’re doing you’re not giving people infinite choices you’re not give them a hundred or two hundred you give them a small limited Choice set.
But you’re choosing that choice set.
You’re choosing a small set of options that you’re pretty happy about them picking from and you’re letting them choose from within them you’re giving them Choice you’re giving them freedom and autonomy within a larger
larger option set in sometimes you’re guiding their choice you’re not forcing them to pick one thing or something else
but you’re guiding the direction that they go and you see the same thing in our personal lives also right you know often someone asks us what we want to do one evening or something we give them an answer and they think about all the reasons why they think that’s a terrible idea if we give them two options
now they’re going okay interesting which of those do I like better and they’re much more I could
pick one of the ones we suggested in the first place and so providing a menu is a great way to encourage people to move in that direction not because we force them to but because we gave them choice.
[24:30] I love that that makes total sense and if you think about it we see lots of examples where where.
Good good sales people are sort of.
Selling a set of options versus a single option like intentionally or unintentionally to leverage that.
I want to move on to some of the other barriers but before I do I have an inappropriate question I’ve been dying to ask with the example of the Tide Pods like fresh in your mind.
Were you tempted to pick up the phone and call Clorox when you know they were.
They recently like stressed with creating ad telling people not to drink bleach.
[25:10] You know what’s Ben.
Both funny in some ways sad about the recent sort of covid and coronavirus situation there many things that are challenging about it but is the approach that sort of the government and health organizations have used
because they’ve essentially used the same approach that they’ve used for decades and it’s the same approach that doesn’t always work and that approach is just to tell people what to do.
[25:34] Rights of the good thing tell people to do more of it if it’s a bad thing tell people to do less of it
you know just like people used to say hey eat your vegetables and exercise now it’s wear a mask just like we used to tell people don’t drink and drive and you know don’t do drugs now it’s
don’t go to the store stay home and the challenge with these things is even if we might be willing to wear masks to start if an organization or group is telling us
do it now we’re going well okay I don’t want to just do what you’re saying maybe to exert my freedom and autonomy I’ll just do what I want and not do it right to go against what
what you’re saying and so I actually wrote a piece probably now two months ago in the Harvard Business review,
sort about how to apply some of these ideas of reactants to the current situation because I think they’re very very.
It right I mean you know take a slightly,
related example or sort of a case of these things not necessarily giving people choice but another example I talk about in the book is.
Essentially highlighting a gap right point out a gap between people’s attitudes and actions and so it’s the same thing not telling them what to do but really encouraging them to do something by pointing out.
[26:42] What they’re doing what they might recommend for someone else’s different and so you know take it to a covid situation someone was saying oh you know I have a colleague in the office who isn’t wearing a mask,
and I want them to wear a mask but you know if I tell them to they’re not going to and well rather than telling them to wear that mask why do you stay some egg hey.
If your elderly grandparent or your son or daughter your young son or daughter your elderly parent if they were walking around the office would you want them to wear a mask.
What you want us to wear a mask the first one was a yeah of course I’d want them to wear masks add want you to wear masks I want them to be safe okay but then why aren’t you wearing a mask.
[27:17] Because what that very subtly does I’m not telling them hey wear a mask I’m asking a set of questions that highlight a gap between their attitudes and their
and people want those two things to be in line
if we say we care about the environment we should recycle if we say you know we you know are interested in digital marketing we should do things that are consistent with that when our attitudes and our actions don’t line up
we do work we resolved that cognitive dissonance by sort of forcing them together we have to change our attitudes we have to change our actions
and so if I would recommend that other people would wear a mask if I would recommend my grandparents or parents wear a mask well then how can I walk around not wearing a mask and so by highlighting that Gap you can really encourage people to do something.
Not again not by forcing them to but by encouraging them to resolve the distance between their attitudes and actions.
[28:06] Yeah I like to based based on reading your book when I’m talking to folks I like to say hey I have a friend who’s a doctor and a lot of his patients are getting infections do you have any suggestions on what we could recommend for that doctor.
[28:17] I love that I love that yeah that’s great right because again you’re asking someone for advice you’re asking not telling them.
[28:24] Yeah and it’s there’s great examples in the book on that on like helping people.
Stop smoking for example in Thailand and stuff but one of the things that is that’s interesting to me about the reactants barrier and then I’ll move on but.
It feels like it can be very bifurcating right because you have this other Concept in the book you call it like the zone of acceptance right which is part of the distance greater if you were someone that was.
Predisposed to wear a mask and this.
You need to start wearing masks comes out like you just where I’m asking you end up on on one side of the thing but if you were someone that was less predisposed it felt like a bigger change to you it was less acceptable you to wear a mask.
The fact that people are telling you to Omit to wear a mask just push you further away from wearing a mask and so we end up in this weird bifurcation.
That I think we’re seeing play out in the real world like right now where people are making incredibly irrational arguments.
For not wearing a mask because they’ve become so so entrenched like because that zone of acceptance was unacceptable.
[29:32] Yeah I mean I think what you’re pointing out is that different people are not doing it for different reasons right there’s a set of people that would have done it but now they won’t because you’re telling them and there’s a set of people that might have done it but your ask is too far away and so they’re not doing it.
All right so I think in both of those cases we need to be a little bit smarter about the way we’re trying to change others.
[29:49] Yeah I want to Pivot to one of the other barriers you call endowment and that there’s this well-known cognitive bias the endowment effect and.
I am any other markers have been using a version of it for a long time and it’s different than the version that you bring up in catalyst.
Traditionally like we think of the endowment effect of is if I can get the customer to imagine they own this product.
It will be more difficult for them to make a decision not to own it so in in retail stores the real tangible example is.
Let’s take all the fun products out of product jail out of the glass cases and let customers handle the products and try the products in the store so that.
Digital cameras or the mobile phones or the GPS units I if you can actually use that in the store now the decision you’re making is.
Am I going to I’m imagining I own it so I have to make a decision to lose ownership by walking out of the store without it.
And so I feel like that that’s been a really useful tactic but then in the.
The book you bring up the point that that same endowment effect can be a barrier to people affecting the change they want to make or that you want.
[31:07] Yeah so first of all I love that example as a way to sort of encourage people to imagine they own something and this one and use it I think the challenge of change is it’s not just getting people to do something it’s getting people to let go of what they used to do,
right so the challenge of Change Is Not Just hey I’ve got to get people to buy a new phone but I’ve got to get them to give up their old phone instead challenge
you’re selling a service is not just hey I get to get to the by the service because they’re using no service but often they’re already using a service how do I get them to switch to my service and that’s really where the endowment becomes challenging right because we all have that status quo bias while
attached to the things we’re doing already and so you know the service I’m using a ready or the phone I’m using already
that thing is valued more than the new thing because I already have that thing I tell a funny example in the book of sort of my own phone buying Journey where I had this sort of
old iPhone at one point is like an iPhone 4 I think it was or something like that and it was basically broken I could barely use it anymore but I didn’t want to get a new iPhone yet because I wanted an iPhone that was the same size I basically wanted exactly my phone just not.
With more space and not all the broken features and so I kept waiting and waiting and waiting hoping this would happen because I was attached to the old thing.
[32:22] And change really has a couple pieces right one it’s uncertainty about the new thing maybe we’ll talk about that in a couple minutes right it’s
new things are riskier Neo phobic how do I know that new things actually going to be good but we’re also attached to the old thing
we’re also attached to the products and services and ideas and stuff that we’re already doing and it’s very hard to get people to let go of those things that’s why you know we hold on within organizations we hold on to existing projects that were already funding and doing but we don’t start new ones that’s why consumers buy the same product again and again and again and don’t bite
new things as often they buy the same version of Old things but they don’t buy new products and services often because it’s easy to stick with the things you know.
Were attached to those things we value those things more.
Research shows that objects are valued more if we own them than when we don’t you know research shows a long you’ve lived in a home the more value think it is even above and beyond market price and so it’s really challenging to get people to live
let go of old staff and so we have to figure out ways to ease Endowment in some sense by making them less attached to the old thing than they might be otherwise.
[33:26] Yeah and you brought up the fourth barrier uncertainty tell us about that one.
[33:32] Sure yeah so you know I think the good way to think about uncertainty is
anytime there’s something new we don’t know whether it’s going to work the marketer says the product is good or the service is good.
[33:46] The colleague says the initiative will work and it will be better than what we’re doing before but we don’t actually know that
in some sense there’s some uncertainty and lots of research shows that whenever we feel uncertainty we hit the pause button
right and we can see this going on right now with with covid and everything else you know many companies are sort of waiting until things resolved themselves to figure out what to do and what’s really interesting is you know many of these organizations
if they actually wrote down the decision tree and there are two paths let’s say A and B if a happens they probably do one thing
and Abby happens they might actually do the same exact thing
and lots of research shows that even when path a and path be the outcome what you do or the same if you’d not sure which way it’s going to go yet with your going to go down the first path the second path even though you do the same thing you still want to wait.
To figure out what’s going to happen right because we don’t know and that makes us feel uncomfortable and so the challenge there’s is how do we get people to unpause
how do we get them to avoid just saying well I’ve never used this thing before I don’t know if it’s any good I’m not necessarily going to do it there’s always switching costs if I’m buying a new phone that’s the cost of the phone in terms of money if I’m using a new service is the cost of integrating with my existing system in the time and the effort
to do it but it’s not just that there’s a cost it’s at the cost is that now and the benefits are later.
[35:03] To use a product or service I have to pay you this money engage the time do all this work now to maybe get this benefit later
maybe the new phone will make my life better but I don’t know and I’m not going to be able to figure it out until I’ve already paid those upfront costs and even worse
the costs are certain in the benefits around answer.
[35:21] Sure marketer the product or service you’re selling you’re saying it’s going to be better but I’ve got to pay for it first then I’ve got to wait a little while until I see whether it’s actually better and so why would I pay upfront costs
for uncertain benefits and so a lot of what I talked about in the book is you know to solve that barrier to reduce uncertainty.
We have to make it easier for people to try things.
And I think that many of your listeners are probably familiar with the freemium business model right this model of giving away something for free and then encouraging people to upgrade to a premium version
so take what you know a Dropbox or a New York Times or a Pandora or Evernote Skype LinkedIn all of these companies use the freemium model where there’s a free version you can upgrade to a premium version
and it’s clear why.
People like customers consumers like this model right they don’t have to pay for the product or service is great for them but it’s also great for those companies because what freemium does is it lowers the barrier trial.
Before you have to pay that upfront monetary cost now you
and so it’s easier for you to experience the value of the offering not because the marketer said it was good because you experience it yourself right now that that gator has been lowered a much more likely to hop over it check out what you’re offering.
And because I realize it’s good be willing to upgrade to the premium version and so frame is a great way to lower the barrier to trial but it’s not the only way
It’s actually an example of a much much broader principle in a much older principle you know if you think about test drives for cars for example there’s no freemium there.
[36:49] I just know free version of Card a premium version a test drive is basically just says hey check out the car for free and if you like it.
Well then passing money but it works on the same principle if you drove to a car dealership and they said oh you’re interested in the car pay us $30,000 and then we’ll let you check it out
no one would buy a new car but that’s essentially what we do all the time with the products and services we say hey trust us it’s really good all right well no one’s going to check that out it so
test drives do what samples at the grocery store do is they lower the barrier to trial that’s not freemium but they make it less work less costly for people to experience the value of that offering and once they’ve experienced it they’ll be much more likely to buy it.
More like it a try means it’s more likely to buy.
[37:31] Yeah and are like some of the tactics we see real commonly in e-commerce like the guarantees the Zappos you know free returns or the.
Casper trial or the word be Parker will send you five glasses and let you pick one like are all the those all feel like tactics that are designed to help address this uncertainty.
[37:52] Yeah I think it’s important and I do some work in this in the book to sort of separate some of these different in terms of how they’re working right so even just compare the front end and the back end right so what a money back guarantee does it doesn’t change The Upfront cost.
You still have to pay the money you still have to get the mattress into your home all those other things but it says if you don’t like it you can give it back,
and so that’s going to maybe encourage people to do the thing on the front end because they have more certainty that they don’t lie like that they can give it back other things work on the front.
Right think about why Casper started opening up stores for example I bet one reason Castro opened up stores is yeah money back guarantee encourages people to order the mattress
but you still got to get a mattress to your house get it up the floor put it on your bed move the old mattress it’s a lot of work
and people are sitting there going man if I don’t like it it’s not going to be trivial to get rid of it yes I can get my money back but it’s not trivial and so I’m still not willing to take the plunge The Upfront cost is.
Hi and so what a store does it allows you to sit on the mattress before you buy it just just like a test drive and so you can think about things on the front end as sort of lowering the very to trial making easier to get in and you think on the back end is sort of making it reversible make it easier if you don’t like it
to give it back you know free shipping is on the front end makes it easier to get you free returns is on the back end make it easier to give it back if you.
[39:09] I really like it and there even some other examples that I talked about that are slightly different less than front-end and back-end more about sort of driving discovery
because I think the challenge with trial is trial works really well if people know you exist and they think they like you but they’re not sure what you’re offering is great right there ready moved far enough down the funnel,
that they said oh what you’re offering is pretty good and if you make it a little bit easier I’ll do it right I’m there what about all the people that are not that far along in the funnel.
What about all the people that aren’t even in the funnel because they don’t know you exist or the people that are the beginning of the funnel but they’re not sure they’d actually like what you have to offer right or they think they don’t like
what you have to offer and Acuras actually doing with this a couple years ago so carmaker Acura people who drove actors love the brand.
They go by another actor they were super happy there just weren’t enough people like that and it’s our accurate was doing test drives,
who takes a test drive only the people who know the brand and think that they like it and so they’re trying think about how do I get more people.
To test drive the car essential experience the car and so what they did was really clever they partnered with W hotels and they said hey if you’re staying at the W Hotel you can get a ride anywhere in town in an Acura for free.
[40:16] You need to be a car buyer you don’t need to be interested in acura’s per se you just need to want a ride to the airport or your meeting or whatever it is and we’ll give you one for free did everyone who stayed at the tail
take a ride for free no but over a hundred thousand people did and over
10,000 them actually ended up buying the car tens of thousands of ended up buying the car why because they got a whole bunch of people that weren’t that far in the funnel didn’t realize accurate existed might have been injured in the brand sit in the back of the one on the way to their meeting or the airport learn there was actually a pretty nice car and then decide that maybe it was worth checking out and so what that did essential as it drove discovering right in brought the trial
and I talked about a lot of other examples like that in the book trials really great but it still requires work on the customers part to be aware of you and go take that trial if you can drive discovering bring the trial to people it’s going to be even better.
[41:04] Yeah you know it’s funny there’s a special version of trial that’s creating a challenge in retail because of covid right now.
In-store sampling is of course super popular and you think of a grocer like Trader Joe’s or Costco it’s a ingrained part of the shopping experience.
But now because of covid-19.
But it doesn’t seem very prudent to have a open tray of food and encourage people to be pulling down there mass and consuming food in the aisle and so.
We’re all struggling with.
What’s the alternative version of sampling in a covid friendly way and my hypothesis is that at home trials are going to become the thing that will put sealed samples of all that food,
in your bag and let you discover it at home if you thought about that at all.
[41:53] Oh yeah definitely man even think about you know and it’s different than food but you know think about what they do at hotels now where if you stay at some hotels you know the mattresses or the furniture is actually provided by mattress or Furniture companies and allow you to experience it
right so again you’re not going to the store to bring the experience to you there even some cases where they’re doing that was close
where you know if you’re interested in certain clothes you tell a brand the type of things you like you show up at the hotel and in the closet are some items you can try and they’re right there for you and so again it’s bringing the trial to you.
You know I think about you know you stay at a hotel they have little bottles of shampoo or toothpaste and so again it’s all of these are sort of making it easier for people to try stuff I certainly think that fewer people are going to physical locations at the moment and so
ways to bring trial to people or help with that and I imagine we’ll see that in food as well you know if for a long time people can’t
go to the grocery store as easily not trying things as easily then setting things home with people as a way for them to experience it.
[42:53] I like that I want to touch on one other barrier before we run out of time and I think there are versions that come up a lot in e-commerce in this one can you talk a little bit about corroborating evidence.
[43:05] Yeah and I only have a couple minutes left so I’ll make this one shorter rather than telling a long story but I think the intuition around corroborating evidence is very simple,
if you sell something that’s relatively cheap
relatively not risky relatively similar to what people are already doing a little bit of influence goes a long way moving a little bit of barrier is enough to get them to change if you think about a scale.
We’re sort of a seesaw and you’ve got a pebble on one end if you put something small in the other end you can move the pebble
a little bit of barrier removal will get the pebble to move but if you’re selling something that’s riskier it’s more controversial it’s more unusual it’s more novel it’s more expensive it’s going to take a lot more work
to get people to change right you’ve got to move the boulder rather than rather than a pebble and in these cases you really need corroborating evidence.
People need more proof before they’re willing to change their minds and we often think we’ll just provide that proof right I’ll send more information I’ll send more reasons and if I just give people more information they’ll change but the problem of is it comes from the same person it often gets discounted.
Right sure you say this thing is good but you’re only one person,
you only provide so much proof how do I really know it’s good and that’s really what corroborating evidence and others come in there’s a nice saying where it goes you know if one person says you have a tail you laugh but if five people say you have a tail you turn around to take a look.
[44:26] And I think that’s exactly the intuition here,
when multiple people say something even that one person says oh you have a tail you really have a tail let me tell you what you have a tail you’re going to laugh and think they’re an idiot right they’re wrong,
this crazy person is wrong if five people say it you’re pretty sure you don’t have a tail.
But five people are saying it well then I better go ahead and take a look and so it’s not just about the amount of proof.
But the number of people providing that proof and that’s really where we need to think about involving multiple others when their prior clients or prior users of a product or service providing multiple doses in a
what period of time making sure people here from multiple others or get
multiple sources of information about something that’s where online reviews can be really helpful right where multiple people are saying they like a given product or service for a particular reason but it’s really all about providing corroborating evidence or multiple sources of proof
in a small enough time that it provides enough evidence to tip the scales.
[45:19] Yeah I mean in that that makes perfect sense that’s I think of all those social proof the ratings and reviews and user-generated content and all that stuff is being sort of the collaboration cooperation there.
We’re almost out of time I want to squeak one last question in to let you close whenever we talk with listeners about the psychology of persuasion and things like that like the thing that always comes up is what are the ethics of this are we.
Like using cognitive biases to trick people into decisions that are bad for them is that what this is about and I know the answer is no but I’d love to hear your perspective.
[45:53] You know when the book first came out
almost all the reviews were positive but there was one negative review and I was really bummed I hadn’t read it but I was like why did this person give the book three stars you know I’m sort of disappointed and I read the review
and if you basically said this book has some great principles in it.
But charlatans and hucksters and you know bad sales people are going to use these principles to get people to do bad stuff
and first of all I said well if you think that’s the problem that’s a great I’ll take that problem and if
these principles are so useful that if people just use them they can do anything they want that’s I’ll take that as a five-star review the know it’s a three star one but I think in some sense there right right I mean these are tools
tools are tools and tools can do good or bad you know Hammer can hurt people Hammer can help build good things and so I don’t think it’s that the principles themselves are good or bad I think it’s how we use those principles and so I think you know
I can’t tell you whether the product or service or idea you’re working on as a good or bad one I know when I work with clients you know I keep that in mind and try to think about is this an organization that I’m proud to work with but I think more generally there’s a lot of places people and things that could use help
and so hopefully people will use these tools for good.
[47:05] I certainly hope so too and that’s going to be a great place to leave it because we have used up a lot of time but Jonah we superimpose enjoyed the conversation and thank you very much for taking the time to tell our listeners about the book.
[47:18] Thanks so much for having me I hope they enjoy the book and in case it’s useful they’re a bunch of free resources on my website so just my name.com resources there’s a guide to changing your boss’s mind there’s a guide to changing your colleagues mind one for you know changing a
your customer clients mind and so hopefully people find those useful.
[47:36] Thanks Jonah and listeners if you enjoyed the conversation hop on into your favorite podcasting app and we’d really appreciate a five star review.
[47:44] Thanks again everyone and until next time happy commercing.
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