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the small BIG: small changes that spark big influence

Book Review 📕

Three masterminds from the world of behavioral economics and persuasion science, Robert Cialdini, Steve Martin, and Noah Goldstein dive into how the smallest changes lead to the biggest results.

In this book, each chapter describes a small change that lead to large results.

Here are 20 small nudges that I felt had the biggest takeaways for all marketers.

First I’ll list the persuasion principle, followed by the nudge itself.

  1. Persuasion Principle: Social Proof 
    • Individuals are more likely to do a specific act when they find a commonality with others that have been doing a similar action.
    • Example: 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%)
      • Even further enhanced by showcasing the number of individuals that have paid their taxes in the same zip code.
    • Example: Someone dropping change into a playing musician’s instrument case right in front of you enhances the chances you will do the same. (8x increase). Including the town instead of the zip code increased it even higher.
  2. Persuasion Principle: Social Proof
  3. Persuasion Principle: Framing
    • 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)
    • If you have a friend that thinks covering your nose while you sneeze is the norm, then framing a message around the negative effects of those that don’t is the most effective.
    • First inform them of the norm and then talk about the characteristics of the non-norm group.
    • Most members throw their towel in the hamper, but the members that do not are being disrespectful.
  4. Persuasion Principle: Social Proof
    • “Broken Windows”-  One small broken window on a storefront or apartment building could encourage more widespread negative behavior.
  1. Persuasion Principle: Cocktail Party Phenomenon 
    • More likely to donate to Hurricane relief if the Hurricane starts with the same letter of their name. Example, Hurricane Katrina donations from individuals that have names that start with a letter K were 260% more likely to donate. 
    • Example: Personalization in messaging.
  2. Persuasion Principle: Uncommon Commonalities.
    • When it comes to partnership between two “enemies” focus on shared identities. 
    • Focus on features they share in common that are rare to other external groups. 
  3. Persuasion Principle: Familiarity
    • Nudge people to spot marketing opportunities by pairing them with a fresh set of eyes (familiarity leads to opportunity-blindness)
  4. Persuasion Principle: Commitment
    • 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)
    • Verbal commitments also work for this.
    • Example: Elicit a question in advance of the webinar/demo will increase attendance.
  5. Persuasion Principle: Commitment
    • 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.
  6. Persuasion Principle: Feedback
    • Nudge people to buy ‘sinful/guilty’ products by providing them with a way to offset the guilt and ‘license’ the behavior (e.g. placing recycling bins in a room will encourage wasteful behavior)
  7. Persuasion Principle: Social Proof
    • Nudge people using stories that illustrate the positive ’significance’ of purchase on others – rather than personal benefit.
    • Example: collecting donations for a University. Task benefits significantly outperformed personal benefits.
    • Managers should collect customer stories, testimonials and display them to their employees. 
  8. Persuasion Principle: Liking
    • Nudge people by linking the desired behavior (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)
    • Once someone makes even a small initial commitment they then encounter personal and interpersonal pressure to behave consistently with that commitment.
  9. Persuasion Principle: Commitment
    • 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)
    • Example: Have people form a simple plan of how, when and where they will perform the task that they committed to. Implementation Intentions.
  10. Persuasion Principle: Commitment
    • Nudge people to buy with ‘future lock-in’ by inviting them to commit to buying in the future (e.g. subscriptions)
    • Example: More likely to commit to something eight months from now than one week from now.
  11. Persuasion Principle: Future self
    • Nudge people to buy now because they owe it to their future selves (moral responsibility to one’s future self)
  12. Persuasion Principle: Framing
    • 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)
    • Example: Instead of “lose 3 pounds per week”, we say “2-4 pounds a week.”
  13. Persuasion Principle: Framing
    • 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’)
    • Selecting a default. Instead of opting in or opting out of one option, the user is making a choice between two options.
      • Example: Check this box if you want a flu shot vs. I will or will not get the flu shot.
  14. Persuasion Principle: Urgency
    • 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
  15. Persuasion Principle: Social
    • 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
  16. Persuasion Principle: Future Self
    • 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’

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