M360 – Bringing the science back to marketing

This summary contains paraphrasing and words from the presenter. While great care has been made to reflect the messages of the presenter, this article is also interpretation and opinion from the author.

In a session with Adam Ferrier at Mumbrella 360, he expressed the view that psychologists have always been so neurotically hung up on science, unlike psychiatrists who are more comfortably medical (ie. they can prescribe pills). Being a psychology grad, this rang so very true to me (as I often go on defensive rants with my friends), and reminds me of how in marketing, we must always use the lens of science – hypothesising, experimentation, analysis and learning – to assist in making decisions.

Ferrier gave a wonderful example of one such scientific finding that is applicable to marketing in the case of The Pratfall Effect:

Two conditions were set in an experiment. The first condition was a situation where a man appeared competent in every way, while the second condition was a situation where the exact same man appeared average in every way. Participants were asked to rate the men out of 5, and, as one would expect, the competent man was often rated 5, and the average man 3.

Both men then made a mistake, in this case, spilling a cup of coffee all over themselves. After which participants then rated the men again. The result? The competent man was rated even higher, while the average man’s rating plummeted.

This is The Pratfall Effect – where mistakes, when previously perceived to be competent, can actually significantly improve perceptions.

M360 Wrap - Pratfall

Applying this to brands, this is called “blemishing”, which can lead to brand blossoming, but only when it’s not central to your brand proposition, or your key competence. An example of this, was Domino’s Pizza Turnaround campaign, for which you can view the case study below:

Other science-based findings such as Cognitive Fluency (the easier something is, the more likely we will think it’s pleasurable or true – often used by Apple or in political advertising) and Michael Norton’s The IKEA Effect (if you help co-create something, you’ll value it more – such as customised miAdidas or NIKEiD shoes) are other good examples, which I hope inspires you to use science to assist in your marketing decisions.

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