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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Getting noticed is a prerequisite of any good idea.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

You can’t be good at everything. The skill is to work with someone who is good at what you are not.

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

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

The people LEAST likely to engage deeply are the MOST important for growth.

There is a way out of this paradox. But it requires us to embrace two principles:

1) Battle for interest, not attention

2)Fans are actors, not the audience

The Participation Paradox by Martin Weigel

One of the problems with advertising experts is that they have a free pass.

They go around to conferences, they talk to the press, they write stupid blogs, and they make profound and confident statements about the advertising industry.

And no one ever goes back and checks up on them.

The purpose of marketing is not merely to secure the attention, participation and purchases of the fans alone.

Brands depend on retaining and attracting legions of buyers who don’t know our brand well, and don’t buy it very often.

The Participation Paradox by Martin Weigel

You can be conditioned through advertising to choose logically inferior options.

We can even become conditioned to find great pleasure in things that harm us.

We have a responsibility to the truth.

The advertising industry needs it and our clients deserve it.

Efficiency doesn’t build relationships. Quarterly-update newsletters get skimmed and don’t resonate at all.

I would rather get a quick 5-line personal email is so much more effective than a BCC: blast.

The best briefs are when the creative team leaves the brief meeting with ideas already in their head.

If your brief is boring, or leaves the creative team with more questions than answers, or worst, demotivated, then your creative brief was a failure.

Include just enough information to spark creativity- you should be able to accomplish this in one page.

People’s relationship with your brand affects their likelihood to notice communications from your brand.

The Participation Paradox by Martin Weigel

The theory that people want to engage with brands online and share their enthusiasms with their friends and that their friends will share their enthusiasms with other friends through social media channels has turned out to be an infantile fantasy.

In fact, what social media sites are rapidly becoming is just one more channel for traditional paid advertising.

Design is the glue between people and corporations.

But brands can sometimes give splintered messages and forgettable offerings that don’t excite people.

Between advertising, packaging, product design, public relations, Web communication, and the look and feel of their company’s workspaces, every message must fit together;

nothing can be left to interpretation.

Brand Jam by Marc Gobé

There are only two ways to influence human behavior:

– You can manipulate it
– You can inspire it

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

No matter what you’re creating, a single vision is fundamentally important. It is the driving force of every project.

Every project needs someone in charge with a crystal-clear vision.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

It’s important to understand the history of typography.

Not every graphic designer knows this, but it’s very important because typography evolves alongside technology, and the shape of typography is created by technology.

We now have millions of different types, but not all of them are good.