By nature we are lazy creatures – there’s really not much we can do about that. The gravitational pull of the couch and the remote control on a Saturday afternoon comes from eons of evolutionary forces that led us to conserve energy when we weren’t engaged in searching for food, finding a mate or protecting what we had from marauding tribes. Those that rested and conserved energy during the hunter-gatherer downtime were more likely to have the resources needed to stay alive for fighting, fleeing and foraging.¹
But conserving the body’s energy was just part of it – thinking, analyzing, judging and solving problems is an incredibly taxing (and calorie draining) activity. So when they could, our ancestors conserved mental energy too by operating on autopilot for repetitive tasks. Perhaps, for example, their skilled hands automatically wove vine ropes while their attention was focused on where to find the next meal.
In “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahneman talks about two thinking patterns: System 1 – automatic thinking, and System 2 – analytic problem solving. System 2 is far more demanding and energy consuming, so whenever possible we use the fast-thinking System 1. This intuitive, automatic thinking is a way of conserving energy.
Marketers can learn a great deal by understanding our indolent natures, and engaging with target buyers at an intuitive or heuristic level.
Let’s look at a daily business task we perform “automatically” – wading through our email inboxes. We open the email application, scan the newly arrived content and decide which emails get our attention. Chances are this is done in a habitual and intuitive way, bouncing from subject line to sender to understand what’s important and what’s not. Then once we open an email, our thinking brain starts to take over.
With so much information to sift and sort through each day, our minds look for energy-saving shortcuts, or heuristic tools to help us understand what’s important and what’s not. In “Knowledge and Memory: The Real Story” writers Roger Schank and Robert Abelson suggest that we are bombarded with so much information on a daily basis that we process and retain just a small portion of it. To manage, our minds select and sort information based on what’s familiar and what makes sense – and what doesn’t. To short-cut the process, we interpret information based on prior experience or the pre-existing stories in our minds. Our past experiences provide the various frameworks for us to interpret new information – and we organize our experiences based on the stories we carry in our heads.²
By creating frames of reference, and tapping into the experiences that are familiar to buyers, marketers make it easy to understand and remember information. I’ve found that building these buyer frames and adding content to them provides that intuitive recognition – the fast thinking system-1 that Daniel Kahenman writes about – in a way that creating simple buyer personas cannot.
In a future blog I’ll explain how you can do this.
¹Evolutionary Psychology: Laziness – Laziness is a way to preserve the body from being overworked and conservation of energy in our body. Our biological body needs preservation and conservation, hence the body has worked hand in hand with our brain to wire laziness in our mind. Human by default, are lazy. The only way to overcome it is motivation or reward and punishment. We need to ‘program’ ourselves with reasons to not become lazy
² “Knowledge and Memory: The Real Story” Roger Schank and Robert Abelson