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Two simple rules for influencing action

friction habits influence Nov 25, 2020

When it comes to changing your own behaviour or someone else’s, two simple rules are:

  • Make the existing behaviour unappealing, and/or
    Make the new behaviour appealing.

Make the existing behaviour unappealing

To reduce the likelihood an existing behaviour will continue, just add friction. For example:

  • Slowing elevator doors by just 16 seconds influenced more people to take the stairs. Signs to save energy and improve health didn’t work, but friction did. (Van Houten, Nau &...
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The trick to portion control

habits time unit bias weight Nov 10, 2020

Public awareness campaigns crop up now and again to remind us how much one standard alcoholic drink is. In Australia, for instance, that means approximately 285 mL of full strength beer, 100 mL of wine or champagne and 30 mL of spirits.

The problem is most of us judge by the container not the contents, making a perceptual rather than intellectual judgment — much it looks, not how much it actually is, so these awareness campaigns are largely ineffective.


Unit bias

This is in part due to...

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How to write effective emails

 

I currently have 11,212 unread emails in my inbox. They are unread because I have looked at the subject line or sender and decided not to bother opening them.

Some people aim for "inbox zero" - and if that's you I understand my confession may have rocked your world - but I'm totally okay with how I keep on top of what's important.

Or more particularly, what I think is important, because whomever crafted their message to me certainly thought it should be important.

Which brings us to the...

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Keeping your customers

 

It costs less to retain than acquire a customer.

But you know that already.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority cited research that:

  • Increasing retention by only 2% has the same effect on profits as having to cut costs by 10%;
  • Reducing defection by 5% can increase profits by as much as 125%; and
  • It costs 5-7x as much to acquire as retain customer.

Added to that, a customer leaving is unnatural. Why? We're built to leave things as they are. It's our status quo bias.

So if...

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Avoiding overcorrection when things get messy

I’ve been ruminating over the critical distinction between “letter of the law” and “spirit of the law” - the literal vs. the intent - because as we witness the world’s most powerful democracy floundering, it’s clear that the systems and institutions Americans have relied upon for their democracy to function have at least one striking flaw.

They are predicated on the assumption that those in power will do what’s best for their people - and that...

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Dig the well before you get thirsty? Yeah, right.

“Don't wait until you’re thirsty to dig a well” implored Chinese philosopher Zhu Xi over 800 years ago.

In other words, you need to put plans in place today for things that may happen tomorrow.

But how many of us do that? How realistic is it when you are mired in the day-to-day?

 

Thirst drives urgency


I’ve seen variants of this quote being spruiked by futurists and strategists. Most commonly, “dig the well before you get thirsty!”

Some organisations...

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Three hard truths about customer behaviour

 

There are three hard truths about your customer.

  1. They write the script
  2. They are the hero of their story, and
  3. They run on batteries

The accompanying article is available on my blog archive: https://blogbriwilliams.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/three-truths-about-people/

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The problem of exceptionalism

covid exceptionalism Aug 06, 2020

This image just about sums up human behaviour, doesn't it?  

Image via @CorkCoypu

I'm writing to you from the locked-down city of Melbourne. A few weeks ago it seemed we were on top of Covid-19 but in a blink we find ourselves under Stage 4 restrictions. An 8pm-5am curfew, a 5 kilometre boundary in which we can shop - but only for essentials - remote schooling and limits on outdoor exercise.

It feels like the whole class got 6 more weeks of detention because some naughty kids...

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6 cognitive biases that get people to buy online

6 cognitive biases that influence online shopping

Google's consumer insights team wanted to "understand how consumers make decisions in an online environment of abundant choice and limitless information."

They found that "people deal with scale and complexity by using cognitive biases encoded deep in their psychology."

As consumers cycle through exploration and evaluation phases of their decision, they rely on the following six cognitive biases:

  1. Category heuristics -...
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It's natural, but is it acceptable?

Uncategorized Jul 21, 2020

I’ve found myself talking a lot about in-group bias recently.

It's our tendency to favour our group over others. 
 
What’s our group? It could be our family, footy team, hair colour, ethnicity, choice of car, nationality, or even, as I have witnessed during Melbourne’s second lockdown, suburb.
 
We naturally sift and sort people into categories so we can navigate the world, separating “us” and “them” as we go. From an evolutionary...

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