Take a deep breath and repeat after me.
Human beings are deeply irrational beings.
Let’s face it, in the face of overwhelming evidence we still continue to do things we know aren’t good for us. From fast food to smoking to driving-and-texting to recreational pharmaceuticals; we consume, do and participate in all sorts of actions a rational being would scoff at.
Dan Ariely’s weekly blog wonderfully draws attention to a myriad of business situations where human psychology takes a strange and bizarre trip down Irrationality Avenue.
None of this is news though.
It isn’t particularly newsworthy to marketers who are (ostensibly) in the business of human motivations and behaviours.
What does surprise me is the number of marketers who continue to use purely rational discussions with their plainly irrational constituent audiences.
Coca-Cola’s been lambasted recently for their rational (if not long overdue) entry into the debate on sugary soda and obesity.
Canada’s Telco industry is also in the hot seat as a heated battle rages over the potential entry of US-based telco Verizon into this market. If you read the comments attached to this article you get a sense of how irrational and vitriolic the conversation has become.
These brands aren’t alone. Few categories from QSR to transportation have had an easy go recently.
Yet, time and again, their marketing reaction is incredibly rational.
Rational appeals to the head. Sound, logical, well-constructed, linear, irrefutable debates. Only trouble is that the conversation has evidently disintegrated into the verbal equivalent of a high-school cafeteria food fight.
You can understand it. Irrational should be met with rational.
I’ve a suggestion cause I see little evidence that rational is making any impact.
Why not try a different approach. Perhaps a somewhat irrational one.
Why not fight irrationality with the most irrational weapon in your arsenal.
After all, what is a brand if not an irrational weapon?
An illogical, ethereal construct that defies all logic and commonsense.
Case in point, why is it that firefighters use back fires to fight out of control fires? When water – a logical response – doesn’t work, firefighters are trained to follow an illogical route. Why don’t marketers?
Today’s astute marketers instinctively know that highly rational debates – RTB’s, product proofs, substantiation – are increasingly table stakes. Hygiene factors at most. Yet we continue to trot them out in sound and rational fashion. As if all the micro-scrubbing bubbles, faster download speeds and enhanced whitening formulas will ever beat a brand that consumers have a genuine emotional connection to.
Why not invest as much time in determining and then bolstering the core intangible – and what’s more irrational than that – aspects of your brand? The stuff that makes folks pick a red can of soda over a blue one. Both slake your thirst – a rational argument – but only one has made a global mark by standing for universal happiness. Only one is valued at $78billion.
In practical terms, take this wonderful little quiz if you’re struggling to determine what your magic (irrational) sauce may be. I tell you now it’s time well spent.
Finally, next time you’re considering how to react to an irrational customer response, take some inspiration from this