S04E02 – Pay Attention To Your Expectations

Talking About Marketing Podcast by Steve Davis and David Olney

In this episode, we explore "The Expectation Effect," attention's role in business, a massive data leak's impact, and the power of advertising characters.

In this episode's "Person" segment, we dive into "The Expectation Effect" by David Robson, uncovering how our brains function as prediction machines and the profound impact our expectations have on our mental energy and capabilities. Through groundbreaking research and practical insights, we explore the transformative power of altering our beliefs about our cognitive resources. This discussion offers invaluable strategies for enhancing productivity, focus, and overall well-being, making it essential listening for anyone looking to unlock their full potential in an over-stimulated world.

In the Principles segment, we delve into the crucial concept of attention in the realm of business and marketing. This conversation is sparked by insights drawn from a chapter on attention in William James' seminal work, "Principles of Psychology." Through an engaging dialogue, we explore James' profound definition of attention as the mind's ability to clearly and vividly focus on one among several potential thoughts or objects. This discussion not only sheds light on the intrinsic value of singular focus over multitasking but also navigates through various facets of attention, including selective attention and the limitations of our perception.

In light of the recent, unprecedented data leak affecting major companies like LinkedIn and Adobe—exposing a staggering 26 billion records—we find ourselves at a critical juncture regarding digital security. Steve and David discuss what this means for us.

In our Perspicacity segment, we delve into the timeless appeal of advertising campaigns that have left an indelible mark on popular culture through the creation of memorable, fictitious characters. Exploring iconic ads such as Solvol, Quik (which Steve references as Milo), and the unforgettable "Not Happy, Jan!" from the Yellow Pages era, we question the enduring effectiveness of these campaigns. Can the clever use of character-driven narratives in advertising still resonate with audiences today, or have we moved beyond this creative approach? Join us as we unravel the magic behind these ads, examining the power of names and personal stories in making messages stick and pondering whether this strategy remains as impactful as ever in the ever-evolving landscape of marketing.

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Talking About Marketing podcast episode notes with timecodes

01:08  Person  This segment focusses on you, the person, because we believe business is personal.

The Expectation Effect

In this week's Person segment, we delve into the fascinating realm of The Expectation Effect, a compelling concept explored in depth by David Robson. This exploration sheds light on how our brains operate as prediction machines, constantly forecasting and adjusting to our environment and internal states based on expectations. Robson's work reveals that our mental and physical capabilities are not as fixed as we once believed but are significantly influenced by our perceptions and beliefs.

The segment highlights a particularly intriguing aspect relevant to entrepreneurs and business leaders: the way we manage our mental energy and resources. Contrary to the once-popular belief that our brain energy is a finite resource that needs careful rationing throughout the day—a belief that led figures like Barack Obama and Steve Jobs to simplify their daily choices to conserve mental energy—Robson presents a groundbreaking perspective. He argues that our brain's energy supply is not as limited as we think. By adjusting our expectations and beliefs about our mental stamina, we can tap into a seemingly limitless reservoir of cognitive power.

This notion is further supported by the research of Veronika Job at the University of Vienna, which demonstrates how our beliefs about the brain's energy capacity can profoundly affect our ability to maintain focus and self-control under pressure. By priming individuals with the belief that mental exertion can be energising rather than depleting, Job found significant improvements in performance and willpower.

This segment is not just an academic discussion but includes practical applications and personal experiences that underscore the power of expectations. By reevaluating how we interpret signals like hunger or fatigue and by challenging our preconceived notions about our limitations, we can extend our productive hours and enhance our overall well-being.

09:33  Principles  This segment focusses principles you can apply in your business today.

William James On Attention

This segment kicks off with an acknowledgment of the AIDA model's foundational principle, highlighting attention as the crucial first step in engaging an audience. This exploration is enriched by insights from the podcast Very Bad Wizards, referencing a deep dive into a chapter on attention from William James' seminal work, "Principles in Psychology."

William James' definition of attention as the mind's focused possession of a particular thought or object among several possibilities captures the essence of effective marketing and the challenge of multitasking. This discussion segues into the pitfalls of multitasking and the unrealistic expectation that our brains can equally process and record every piece of information. The conversation brings to light the concept of automaticity and its disruption, using the metaphor of navigating an awkward staircase to illustrate how focusing on a single task can be both essential and exhausting.

The narrative then shifts to different types of attention, exemplified by the famous "invisible gorilla" test, demonstrating how selective focus can blind us to unexpected elements. This example serves as a metaphor for the dangers small businesses face when they concentrate too narrowly on certain objectives, potentially overlooking other crucial aspects.

Through engaging storytelling and scholarly insights, Steve and David unravel the complexity of attention in marketing. They underscore the necessity of understanding and strategically capturing the audience's focus, emphasising the role of preconceived categories in shaping perception.

23:50  Problems  This segment answers questions we've received from clients or listeners.

Big Data Leak

In light of the recent, unprecedented data leak affecting major companies like LinkedIn and Adobe—exposing a staggering 26 billion records—we find ourselves at a critical juncture regarding digital security.

This breach serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerability inherent in using identical usernames and passwords across multiple websites. The simplicity of our digital habits could unwittingly grant cybercriminals a "master key" to our online lives.

Our message to you is straightforward yet crucial: adopt robust, unique passwords for each of your accounts. While we all crave convenience, this incident underscores the dangerous trade-off between ease of memory and the risk of being hacked. As we navigate this digital age, our commitment to reinforcing this advice remains unwavering, aiming to protect your online presence against ever-evolving threats.

25:25  Perspicacity  This segment is designed to sharpen our thinking by reflecting on a case study from the past.

Wash Your Hands, Geoffrey

Wash your hands, Geoffrey, with the Sovol, Geoffrey. Wash your hands, Geoffrey. Wash your hands, Geoffrey. Go on, Freddy, drink it. Drink it. DRINK IT! NOT HAPPY JAN!

In perspicacity we often look at old campaigns and advertising and ask, would they work today? There are three we've tied together in which a fictitious character is named and becomes part of popular parlance.

These are interesting types of ads, and Steve and David discuss whether creating a fictitious character and the nagging or the reference to that character, when done in a way that people can use in normal conversation, could still work today?

Here are three ads that we discuss.

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