How to Shape Human Behavior for Advertisers

How to Shape Human Behavior 2nd Edition – Book Preface

Thanks to Olivier Massanella for helping with the print cover of this 2nd edition (paperback available on Amazon), and a very special thank you to the professionals who took the time to answer my questions for this 2nd Edition of How to Shape Human Behavior as well as those who didn’t make this edition but will appear in future versions.


How To Shape Human Behavior 2nd Edition for Advertisers was published in 2014.

Originally, I set out to answer the question ‘How can startups create their own advertising campaigns on a budget?’ I envisioned a manual that outlined step-by-step the creative process professional advertising agencies use to create advertising campaigns. All my early research centered around answering this question.

However the more I researched, the more I realized that I was asking the wrong question; I was merely scratching the surface of a deeper, more important question. And so I felt compelled to deepen the focus of my research.

Humans prefer consistency and predictability. It’s evident in the products they repeatedly buy, the books they typically read, the beliefs they unquestionably defend. It shows in their logic and reasoning. In the short-term consistency and predictability make society run more smoothly. They make life easier and decisions safer. In fact, there are over a hundred other heuristics and cognitive biases that shape the way humans behave and make decisions.  How To Shape Human Behavior 2nd Edition for Advertisers addresses each and every one of those biases from an entrepreneur’s perspective.

Why? Because successful entrepreneurs don’t sell products and services; successful entrepreneurs shape human behavior. And for entrepreneurs, shaping human behavior begins from inside the consumer’s mind. The more intimately you understand the mechanisms and complexities of human behavior, the more control you have over the future of your business decisions. In the hands of an entrepreneur, applicable knowledge of the human mind is priceless.

Whether you’re a new startup creating your branding strategy or an established business looking to add a fresh new perspective to your brand, How To Shape Human Behavior 2nd Edition for Advertisers takes you step-by-step through every phase of shaping human behavior needed to build a successful, consumer-centered business.

An important note. How To Shape Human Behavior 2nd Edition for Advertisers is intentionally written as a guide to building a successful business through understanding and using human cognitive weakness that shape human behavior. There will no doubt be times when the offensive and defensive strategies and techniques outlined herein will make you feel uncomfortable or go against what you consider to be ethical behavior. Humans don’t like the idea that they are being ‘manipulated’ into making decisions and giving their money to brands for any reason other than their own free will. But just because you may consider using this knowledge is unethical doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, and it doesn’t mean that other entrepreneurs aren’t currently using them to their advantage. It is critical for you to be able to distinguish between manipulation and persuasion. More importantly, it is crucial that your consumers correctly distinguish manipulation and persuasion when it comes to evaluating your brand and integrity.

The research in this book is based on academic research and interviews and discussions with professional marketers and executives. Careful attention has been made to accurately cite every reference used. All references are denoted in superscript so you can both verify the research as well as conduct your own.

Another important note. Before implementing any of the advice outlined herein, always consider how your message will be perceived by your target consumer demographic as well as the short- and long-term positive and negative implications your actions will have on your brand image. Most importantly, never do anything that would cause consumers to feel like you’ve tricked them.

Joshua Smith

How to Shape Human Behavior 2nd Edition – Interview Index

The research in this book is based on academic research and interviews and discussions with professional marketers and executives. Careful attention has been made to accurately cite every reference used. All references are denoted in superscript so you can both verify the research as well as conduct your own:

  1. Rémi Noel, Creative Director for TBWA\Paris
  2. Dominic Dangerfield, Co-Director of Speechmark
  3. Céline LePrince, Digital Producer for Ogilvy
  4. Sabine Lenglet, Associate Director for TBWA
  5. Jean-Baptiste Daudet, Data Consultant for Ogilvy
  6. Ignacio Rodriguez, International Account Manager for TBWA
  7. Thomas Palugan, Data Consultant for Ogilvy
  8. Aurélie Chalaye, Account Manager for Ogilvy
  9. Hervé Thevenard, Financial Controller for Ogilvy
  10. Laurence Maas, International Coordinator for Y&R
  11. Sidavy Chau, Financial Controller for Grey
  12. Martine Meyer, Print Producer for TBWA
  13. Muriel Benitah, Account Director for Ogilvy
  14. Anne Cerutti, Account Manager for Ogilvy
  15. Siegrid Bourgois, Brand Division Leader for TBWA
  16. Derek Banas, Owner of New Think Tank
  17. Eric Holden, Executive Creative Director for TBWA
  18. Fatiha Sanhaj, Model Booker for Idole Model Management
  19. Sylvie Réveillard, Art Buyer for The Shop
  20. Joshua Waldman of Career Enlightenment
  21. Delphine Guerin, Executive Producer for Irene
  22. Sam Fajner, Regional VP of Client Relations for Teecom
  23. Tenin Coulibaly, Accountant for DDB
  24. Hervé Godard, Owner of Blake Magazine
  25. Daphné Claude, Co-Founder of Citigate Dewe Rogerson
  26. Steven Brinlee, Senior Creative Director for AR NY
  27. Lisa Ward, Senior Account Manager for Iris Worldwide
  28. Adrien Laugher-Werth, Co-Founder of EuroBusiness Media
  29. Heather Huhman, owner of Come Recommended
  30. Roc Chaliand, Editor of Ever Magazine
  31. Gézabelle Hauray, Project Leader for Havas Life Worldwide
  32. Aurélien Pécoul, Digital Consultant for Havas Worldwide
  33. Marie-Charlotte Lafront, Account Director for Being
  34. Pauline Gandaubert, Branding Consultant for Havas
  35. Bérénice Goales, Client Services Director for Wunderman
  36. Ian Swan, Independent Copywriter
  37. Kristel Pecnik, Content Director for Vivaki Performance
  38. Vivien Urtiaga, Digital Art Director for Grey
  39. Isabelle Nancy, Account Manager for JWT
  40. Benjamin Descazal, Data Consultant for KBMG
  41. John Foland, Independent Web Developer
  42. Ivan Pejcic, Strategic Planner for Ogilvy
  43. Matt Marrocco, Lead Industrial Designer for Streng
  44. Rory Sutherland, Exec Creative Dir & Vice-Chairman
  45. Arnaud Marullaz, Art Director for Y&R
  46. Marine Soyez, Art Director for Pixelis
  47. Cédric Quissola, Art Director for Y&R
  48. Akim Zerouali, Art Director for Y&R
  49. Olivier Hubinois, Account Manager for Pixelis
  50. Timoni West, Freelance Product Designer
  51. Gregory Ferembach, Art Director for Y&R
  52. Paul Johanet, Digital Account Executive for Being
  53. Julien Hérisson, Freelance Art Director
  54. Sophie Andresen, Owner and Curator of Neuromaencer
  55. Peter Spear, Brand Listener and Strategist
  56. Karen Rudel, Owner of Sight Seeker’s Delight
  57. Kevin Knight, President of Expatriate Party SAS
  58. Thomas Yve, Art Director for Being
  59. Derek Sivers, Owner of WoodEgg
  60. Emmanuel Lorry, Creative Art Director for CB’a
  61. Léa Stagnaro, Account Manager for CB’a
  62. Eric Auvinet, Copywriter for JWT
  63. Samantha Bilodeau, Data Miner for Ogilvy

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. How does the advertising process work?
  2. I want to hire a professional. How can I tell the good from the bad?
  3. What misconceptions do brands commonly have about marketing?
  4. How can I create my own inspiring creative brief?
  5. I have a small advertising budget, any advice?

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72. William Channer on How to Build a Successful Podcast & Reconsidering Your Comments Section

imageDesigner, founder and journalist, William Channer has +10 years experience enabling and inspiring startups through apps, books and podcasts on advertising, business, design and technology. Continue reading “72. William Channer on How to Build a Successful Podcast & Reconsidering Your Comments Section”

When it comes time to pitch, you’ll be amazed by how powerful your persuasion skills have become simply because you understand a little more about the field and what drives it.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

In the end, everything is connected and the more connections you make the more interesting your work will become.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

Snap judgments and rapid decisions often lead to poor work.

The ability to stand back from your thinking and give it what we call ‘the overnight test’ is essential.

Unfortunately, we live in a world today that too often doesn’t allow this.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

In advertising, the best partnerships are usually those formed between art director and writer. The reason for this is in their job titles:

Art directors think visually.

Writers think in terms of narrative.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

We draw conclusions based upon how the information is presented—not the actual information itself.

An ad for cream cheese that states 95% fat free is more likely to convince us than one that says it contains 5% fat.

The facts are identical but it is the positive spin not the concrete evidence that drives the appeal.

One of the greatest threats we face is simply put – bullshit.

We’re drowning in it. We’re drowning in rhetoric that is just true enough not to be a lie.

Bob Hoffman on The Golden Age of Bullshit citing speechwriter John Lovett

Creativity isn’t an objective pursuit. Its value can’t be measured the way other skills can be.

Eventually, of course, its value will be confirmed, but often long after it was created.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

There’s no doubt creativity flourishes in adversity.

And while I’m not suggesting starving yourself is the best spur to great thinking, I do believe one discomfort is worthwhile.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

I know people in tech who love who say ‘Just keep it short! Just keep it concise! Just give with what they need!’

Totally wrong. If you see a page that’s educational, informative; that’s got people like you, you will read a page forever.

Long copy for advanced material always pulls better than short copy.

Creativity is one of the most unforgiving of careers.

It’s brutal. It rewards without question and it punishes remorselessly.

It doesn’t take prisoners and it has no respect for reputation.

And the longer you go on doing it, the harder it gets.

Brilliant one minute, tragic and vulnerable the next.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

Read shit and you’ll think shit and you’ll create shit.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

It is possible to gain a good insight into the mindset of a customer by closely observing their total package of ‘expressions.’

By paying attention to the words people choose to use, their tone of voice, the gestures, postures, and facial expressions, one can read with surprising accuracy the frame of mind they are occupying at any particular time.

The key is to observe the total package rather than erroneously attach significance to just one aspect and deduce, for example, that because someone has their arms folded they are feeling defensive (they may very well just be cold, feel more comfortable that way, or be unconsciously modeling someone else’s behavior).

Consumer.ology by Philip Graves

Industries where the packaging design is nearly identical is likely due to supplier limitations or governmental regulations or maybe that all of the ‘competing’ products are actually owned by the same parent company who find it more economical to print a universal box for all their products.

Whatever it may be, if you can differentiate your brand with package design, you should by all means.

But if your package cannot be redesigned to be distinguished from your competitors, then you’ll have to differentiate yourself in other ways.

When someone chooses to share your content, this demonstrates two things.

1) The reader has found enough value in your content to recommend it to the people he or she knows.

2) Now more people are likely to read your post. After all, at the end of the day, people would rather take recommendations from their friends, than from a brand.

Once you see your shares sky-rocketing, you’ll know you’re doing something right.

Give your event a landing page, website and/or social media profile.

In terms of digital marketing, the event should have it’s own social media pages and allow for sharing and RSVPs.

Include key messages and constant updates to inform and attract.

This is your outlet to drive the media and customers attention in order to drive attendance and sales.

Bullshit has become such a powerful weapon that it’s hard for us to stop ourselves from using it.

We use it on consumers.
We use it on our clients.
And we are now bullshitting ourselves.

Just because technology has made it easier to create and express yourself does not mean you’re any good at it.

Every day I’m inundated with badly written, poorly constructed, uninformed blogs.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

People don’t believe facts; they believe ‘experts.’

Bob Hoffman on The Golden Age of Bullshit citing Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize winner