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The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Oct 24, 2019

Nancy Harhut is Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of HBT Marketing. In this interview, she talks about the how her company utilizes behavioral science and marketing best practices to change how people make purchasing decisions. 

Social scientists and behavioral economists have found that people often make decisions by defaulting to “hardwired” behaviors, rather than by thinking things through. Although there are hundreds of behavioral science/decision science principles, HBT Marketing focuses on the “Human Behavior Triggers” that will effectively increase the likelihood that people will do what marketing clients want them to do. But, it is not just about organizational profitability. Nancy emphasizes that it is equally important that these “human behavior triggers” get people to make the decisions that are good for them.

Nancy discusses a powerful pricing strategy, which she calls the “gravitational pull of the magic middle.” If marketers have a low-priced price widget, they need to have a high-priced all-the-bells-and-whistles widget at a price they would rarely expect to get, and then place their ideal target price widget in the middle. Many people will look at the “economy-priced” widget as being of marginal utility . . . and if the high-priced widget is out of their range, they will target the middle-priced widget. Another principle: Social scientists have found that we place greater value on things that we already own. In elucidating this principle, Nancy provides an example of how strategic phrasing can be used to increase sales.

Nancy spoke at HubSpot’s Inbound 2019 conference on “5 Decision Science Secrets That Make It Easy to Get the Online Behavior You Want,” outlining 5 Human Behavior Triggers that she felt would be most useful for marketers:

  1. Availability bias: People will judge the likelihood of an event happening based on how readily they can recall a relevant example.
  2. Social proof: When people don’t know what to do, they look to others, particularly others like them, and follow their lead.
  3. The scarcity principle: If something is readily available, people may or may not be interested. If “supplies are limited,” people are more likely to buy, because they don’t want to miss the opportunity.
  4. Commitment and consistency: Once someone makes a decision, they tend to remain consistent with it when future opportunities arise.
  5. Choice architecture: The way choices are presented influences the decisions people make about those choices.

Nancy provides detailed illustrations of each of these principles. She recommends making it easy for people to do what you want them to do, but to never force them into a box. Allow them to “opt out.”

Nancy can be found on Twitter, @nharhut, on Facebook and LinkedIn at: Nancy Harhut, and on her company’s website at: