An Industry Changing Behavior?

This lively and oh-so-rare chance to hear some of the best behavioral marketers and insight professionals show how they use their skills was a genuinely motivating rallying call for the industry.

The Behavioral Marketing Forum BMF is a new spin-off of the highly successful Insight Innovation Exchanges (IIeX), and all share the same energy and appetite for innovation.

Too many smart, funny, and (extraordinarily for a research conference) human ideas were shared for me to cover them all, but here’s a couple which I think give a good flavor of the event.

The day began with a spirited and compelling push from Joan Lewis to move faster in our use and evangelizing of behavioral economics. Joan struck a chord with many in the room by warning against the indiscriminate use of ‘neuro-‘ when we’re just observing natural behavior – it doesn’t add clarity and does muddy the waters for the real neuroscience that can be done.

What resonated with me was her call for us to go and create new inspirations and expectations with our behavioral expertise. I couldn’t agree more. This is exactly what we should be doing, not just because that’s a great way to have business impact, but because as an industry, negativity and insular soul-searching is sadly our natural tendency. We will achieve so much more when we look outwards and use the positivity we can bring to the table to change businesses.

Leigh Caldwell of the Irrational Agency not only painted a fascinating picture of measuring the intangible that we often struggle to do with Lizzi Seear from IHG, but also kept the Twitterati amused with his new game, ‘Kahneman Bingo’. Whenever a classic quote gets wheeled out (or you see that picture of Homer Simpson’s brain X-ray…) you can mark it off your card. I’m not sure who’s in charge of these things, but the reaction online suggests that this surely must become the official game of research conferences from hereon in.

The Herd Meister himself, Mark Earls, closed out the day with an hour where he had hundreds of researchers dancing with each other, doing the Mexican Wave, and awkwardly giggling through the orgasm scene from ‘When Harry Met Sally’. I won’t misrepresent the social learning map (or indeed his charming cartography anecdotes) of his latest book ‘Copy, Copy, Copy’, but the general consensus was it’s going to be another must-read – so I’d suggest doing just that.

Perhaps it was just a piece of gentle (and welcome) flattery from Mark, but his closing remarks lifted the room, and are a fitting way to conclude this post. He reminded the audience that those of us exploring and integrating behavioral science into what we’re doing are among the most advanced actual practitioners of it in the world. More than others like universities or governments, we’re changing an industry, and with that changing how businesses operate at a fundamental level.

If that wasn’t an inspiring, positive, and motivating message to send everyone off into an autumnal New York evening, then I just don’t know what is.

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