Nudge of the Week: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

You can’t be tempted by something you can’t see. That’s why cakes and other desserts are displayed under bright lights.

So if you offer an option but keep it hidden, even very crudely, you will find people will do that thing less.

Google moved the candy in their New York office cafeteria from out in the open to opaque jars. Within seven weeks, Googlers had avoided 3.1 million calories of M&M’s alone.

So what unneccsary temptations can you hide this week? And what good things will you shine a bright light on?

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Nudge of the Week: Color pop!

If you’re struggling to get walk in visitors to your business, use colors to your advantage.

Pay attention to the colors that surround your business. If you’re street level in an urban jungle, everything is probably shades of gray. If you’re in a suburban environment, there are probably more colors around you.

What you want to do is to put something that will seem somewhat out of place. You don’t have to be over the top; subtle can work. In a hard and grey environment, a red or pink pillow will pop out. In a cheery suburban strip mall, a lot of black will probably catch people’s eyes.

Nudge of the Week: Use Positive Language

Negative language is stating something a person can do, but then immediately forbidding it with words like “don’t”, “can’t”, “stop”, etc. Negative language puts you (and others) in a negative frame of reference.

Positive language simply informs the listener to what they can do. Positive language is encouraging.

If you say “don’t forget…”, the listener is more likely to forget.

If you say “remember to…”, the listener is more likely to remember.

If you say “I can’t…”, you’re probably right.

If you say “How can I…”, you’re now in the mindset of getting over obstacles.

Nudge of the Week: Future Committing

Getting people to commit to having a cost right now is very hard. It’s much easier to get them to commit to a higher cost in the future.

This is the principle behind “buy now, pay later” policies.

Another example comes from the Nobel prize economist Richard Thaler. Getting people to save their income now is hard. But getting people to commit to saving their future raises in income is much easier. So instead of saving 10% of your income now, which nobody feels comfortable doing, you commit to saving 50% of any future increase in income.

Nudge of the Week: Show, Don’t Tell

Trusting people to be adults and make the right decision can go a long way.

To tell people what to do is to treat them like children. Instead, show them the outcome of an action, trust they’ll be responsible. Think: stores don’t tell you to “come in and buy something.” Instead, they simply say they’re “open”.

Another example: “employees must wash hands” sounds like a threat. But “washing your hands prevents the spread of disease” is informative.

Also, compare “give me that report by 5 o’clock”, with “I’m meeting with the client first thing in the morning, and I’ll be more effective the earlier I can get your report.”

For Restaurants, Sweeping the Floor is Equivalent to Cooking Great Food

Originally posted on Mises Canada

One of the most popular proponents of BE is Rory Sutherland (who I’ve been praising for years), an ad executive with Ogilvy Mather. The interesting thing about Sutherland is that he also calls himself a follower of Mises, in addition to promoting popular BE concepts and nudges. He once gave a talk at Google titled “Praxeology: Time to Rediscover a Lost Science.” Praxeology, of course, was Mises’s preferred term for the general science of human action.

One quote he’s quite fond of, which he attributes to Mises, is “There is no sensible distinction to be made between the value a restaurant creates in cooking the food, and the value the restaurateur creates by sweeping the floor.” While I haven’t been able to source that exact quote, I do know that he made this statement in the section titled “Business Propaganda” in Human Action: 

“If the manufacturer of candy employs a better raw material, he aims at an increase in demand in the same way as he does in making the wrappings more attractive and his stores more inviting and in spending more for advertisements.”

Continue reading “For Restaurants, Sweeping the Floor is Equivalent to Cooking Great Food”