Effective public relations and marketing stems from understanding human psychology. We spend hours, days, months brainstorming unique campaigns and strategies to mobilize people and prompt action based on perception of an audience’s past and future thinking and behavior.

We’re also big idea people. With any new client or project, there is a natural tendency to assume that a campaign or idea needs to be drastically BIG, BOLD and revolutionary. We pride ourselves on paving new ground.

The reality is that many business problems can be solved when a moderate change is made and effectively implemented. In other words, a solution is devised to address the exact problem. Easier said than done but think about the number of times your team has created a big idea to win a piece of business, only to end up implementing the idea on a much smaller scale that focuses in on effective tactical execution.

In short, we don’t always need to create ideas that move mountains. Instead, think in terms of creating a “nudge” – a small change that generates the desired impact on target audience behavior. Huh? Let’s look at a very practical example of a nudge.

I would imagine that when you open the fridge in your office’s kitchen, it is stocked full of sugary liquid goodness ranging from sodas to fruit juices, Rockstar energy drinks and beyond. Not exactly the dream setup for a company HR rep looking to establish a healthy office environment. Now imagine if those eye-level shelves staring back at you were filled with bottled water and the other sugary  drinks were a bit harder to reach. Naturally, people will begin drinking more water because it’s the first option presented and easiest to access. That’s a nudge (see the Nudge blog for plenty of more examples). No drastic cost. No drastic change in methodology. Rather a simple adjustment from what’s deemed the norm.

But how does one figure out how to arrive at what creates a good nudge? Great question.

There are many approaches that can be implemented. One method is to think in terms of negatives. It’s always easier to get a group to think about the ways or reasons something can’t work or reasons why your target audience would not do something.  From there, you can flip your ideas and see which ideas surface as really strong reasons your audience would take a certain action oriented towards your desired goal. So in the example above, an HR rep would start by brainstorming all the reasons someone in your office would not want a bottle of water. From that list, the HR rep would reverse engineer positioning around why water is an excellent first choice.

Think about your client base and the business problems you’re working to help clients solve on a daily basis. What can you do to step back, simplify and start thinking nudges as opposed to revolutionary change?

*Photo courtesy of Ben Terrett.

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  1. [...] I blogged about the power of the “nudge” and how a seemingly small change in everyday activity can generate desired impact on target [...]

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About Scott Meis

SVP, Digital Content Strategy @ Weber Shandwick Seattle. Outdoors. Adventure. Travel. I dig the Foto.

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