“The Business of Choice” Now Available

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A number of years ago I wrote the following as my personal definition of marketing.

“Marketing is the creation, management, and measurement of programs designed to influence the choices you need people to make to meet your objectives.”

Maybe there is a better definition out there, but this one seemed to work in any scenario I could think of… it works for a brand of shampoo slugging it out on the supermarket shelves with 20 competitors; it works for the team trying to get an airline to choose their $300 million airplane over a competitor’s; it works if you are an NGO seeking to improve health behaviors in developing countries; and it works if you are trying to get people to save enough for their retirement.

For a brand to succeed, it needs to be chosen. There are many choices people can make — choosing one option over another, choosing to do something, or choosing to do nothing. An organization succeeds when it persuades people to make the choices it needs them to make.

As I contemplated this, I realized one thing. Despite more than two decades in the business of persuasion, I didn’t really understand how people make choices. Neither, I realized, did most of my peers or colleagues. Or at least, not to the level of depth you would expect of people whose livelihood depended on influencing choices.

So I went on a journey to understand choice better. I immersed myself in the world of the science of choice, reading dozens of books and hundreds of research papers on different aspects of how humans choose. And had countless conversations with the people — behavioral scientists and neuroscientists — who do this research. I couldn’t have done all this it at a better time. We are in the middle of a golden age in the field of the decision sciences. The emergence of new and disruptive ideas that suggested non-conscious processes are, as Daniel Kahneman says “The secret author of many of our choices”; an unprecedented number of behavioral experiments looking into judgement and decision making; and the emergence of decision neuroscience and its promise to reveal the brain behavior behind observable behavior.

All of this has implications for what we do as marketers, and this is what my book, The Business of Choice: Marketing to Consumers’ Instincts is about. I’ll be posting more over the next few weeks (all of which, I promise, will be shorter than this one) to share ideas from the book and insights from the research that informed it. The journey I went on made me feel very differently about what marketing can be. I hope the book makes you feel the same.

“The Business of Choice: Marketing to Consumers’ Instincts” is published by Pearson FT Press and is available on Amazon http://amzn.to/1B4ENam