S04E03 – Can You Predict How Irrational Your Customers Are?

Talking About Marketing Podcast by Steve Davis and David Olney

In this episode, we explore customer irrationality, economic impacts, and cultural shifts in humour with insights from Dan Ariely's work and Dave Allen's comedy.

In this episode, Steve Davis and David Olney delve into the fascinating world of human irrationality, particularly as it pertains to customer behaviour. Drawing on insights from behavioural economics, the hosts explore whether it's possible to anticipate the seemingly unpredictable actions of customers. The discussion is sparked by Steve's appreciation for David's consistently insightful, albeit unpredictable, contributions, likened to the pleasant surprises of chocolate with steak.

In the Person segment, Steve plays a segment from a recent Adelaide Show podcast that features a discussion with Jordan Tomopoulos from the Adelaide Economic Development Agency about the economic climate in South Australia, focusing on the varying impacts on different demographics. It contains the Economic Doughnut analogy, which describes the economic landscape in a way that highlights the disparities between different age groups and their spending habits. Following the economic discussion, Steve and David reflect on the broader implications of these insights for understanding customer behavior and crafting effective marketing strategies.

In the Principles segment, Steve and David unpack the concept that while humans strive for rationality, our actions are often predictably irrational. This is based on a deep dive into Dan Ariely's work on behavioural economics, particularly his book "Predictably Irrational." The hosts discuss how Ariely's findings apply to business practices, customer service, and marketing. Key concepts from Ariely's work, such as the distinction between social and market norms and the principle of anchoring, are explored. Real-life anecdotes, including Steve's experience as a mobile DJ, illustrate these concepts.

In Problems, Steve shares his experiences with poorly executed attempts by PR agencies to place guests on podcasts, highlighting the importance of genuine engagement and understanding the specific content and audience of a podcast.

Finally, in Perspicacity, comedian, Dave Allen, is the focus. The episode concludes with a discussion on the timeless relevance of comedian Dave Allen's humour, while also considering the evolving social norms surrounding comedy and content that might now be considered outdated or inappropriate.

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Talking About Marketing podcast episode notes with timecodes

01:24  Person  This segment focusses on you, the person, because we believe business is personal.

The Economic Donut Effect

In this week's Person segment, we explore the actions of our customers through a discussion from The Adelaide Show Podcast with Jordan Tomopoulos from the Adelaide Economic Development Agency, by discussing South Australia's economy.

This segment highlights the "economic donut" effect, showcasing how different demographics are experiencing the current economic conditions. The extremes of this donut include financially secure older individuals and young adults with low expenses and high spending freedom, contrasted by the middle segment—new homeowners and families—feeling the economic pinch the most.

This analysis offers valuable insights for businesses on targeting strategies and understanding consumer behavior in a fluctuating economic landscape.

10:05  Principles  This segment focusses principles you can apply in your business today.

Predictably Irrational

In the Principles segment, the spotlight shines on the enlightening concepts from Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational. The book explores the often counterintuitive ways in which humans make decisions, blending behavioural economics with practical insights into human nature. Ariely's work, celebrated for challenging the Enlightenment's rationalist model, reveals our tendencies towards emotional consistency over purely logical actions.

The discussion delves into key takeaways that have profound implications for business practices, notably the concepts of anchoring, social versus market norms, and the psychological costs of keeping options open.

Anchoring, for instance, is highlighted as a crucial strategy in business, where the initial price or product description significantly influences subsequent consumer perceptions and decisions. Similarly, Ariely's distinction between social and market norms offers valuable lessons on the complexities of human interactions, especially in the context of pricing and service offerings.

Closing doors, another concept from Ariely's book, is underscored with personal anecdotes about making conscious decisions to cease certain activities to better focus on what truly matters. This principle, about the mental and emotional relief that comes from simplification, resonates deeply in both personal and professional spheres.

This segment of the podcast not only provides actionable insights into navigating the irrational aspects of customer behaviour but also encourages a deeper understanding of the underlying psychological mechanisms at play. Through Ariely's lens, the episode invites you to rethink conventional wisdom about rationality in business and life.

26:24  Problems  This segment answers questions we've received from clients or listeners.

When PR Agencies Lack Authenticity With Podcasters

In the Problems segment, a candid discussion unfolds about the challenges and pitfalls of securing podcast guest spots, emphasising the value of authenticity and personal effort over relying on PR agencies.

The segment kicks off with an encounter with a PR agency representative, who, despite his formal approach, lacked a genuine connection or understanding of the podcast's essence. This experience underlines the industrial, impersonal approach some agencies take towards podcast placements, treating them as mere transactions rather than opportunities for meaningful dialogue.

The conversation further delves into another agency's attempt to place a guest on the podcast, revealing a lack of familiarity with the show's content and format. These interactions serve as cautionary tales about the superficial engagement and lack of passion that can pervade the podcast guest placement process when mediated by third parties more focused on quantity over quality.

Highlighting the importance of genuine interest and personal initiative, the hosts advocate for direct outreach by potential guests who have taken the time to understand and appreciate the podcast's themes and audience. This approach, grounded in authenticity and mutual respect, contrasts starkly with the dispassionate and formulaic pitches often encountered from PR agencies.

Ultimately, this segment sheds light on the broader issue of navigating the podcast landscape with integrity, encouraging creators and guests alike to prioritise genuine connections over transactional arrangements. This focus on authenticity not only enriches the content but also fosters a more engaged and loyal listener base.

32:33  Perspicacity  This segment is designed to sharpen our thinking by reflecting on a case study from the past.

When Comedy Is Past Its Time

In the Perspicacity segment, the hosts delve into the comedic genius of Dave Allen, whose humour often reflected on societal norms through everyday situations.

A particular routine about teaching a child to tell time not only showcases Allen's knack for blending wit with observations but also includes a moment where he mimics the action of hitting the child for not grasping the concept quickly. This aspect of Allen's performance sparks a thoughtful discussion on how societal attitudes toward humor and discipline have evolved. While once considered harmless comedy, such depictions now prompt a reevaluation of what behaviours are deemed acceptable and entertaining.

The conversation broadens to explore the shifting landscape of cultural references and generational understanding. The hosts ponder the relevance of analogue clocks to today's digital-native youth and how shared cultural touchstones like biblical allusions or Shakespearean idioms are losing their ubiquity in public discourse. This leads to a contemplation on the importance of tailoring communication to one's audience, especially in marketing. Recognising and adapting to the changing cultural and technological milieu is crucial for creating content that resonates.

The segment emphasises the critical role of continuously updating buyer personas to reflect these shifts. It suggests that understanding an audience's cultural norms and references is not only essential for effective marketing but also for ensuring humour and messaging remain appropriate and engaging. The discussion concludes by affirming the power of comedy to reflect and challenge societal norms, alongside a reminder of the ongoing need to align marketing strategies with the evolving cultural landscape.

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