It’s scary out there (Photo by Cheri Alguire , Getty Images)

Republicans want to take over America. How are they doing in the states they’ve already taken over?

I usually write about marketing and persuasion here on Medium. But I also spend a lot of time observing and thinking about American politics and, in particular, the paradoxical allure of the American Republican Party. I have written before on Medium about how the Republican Party long ago abandoned the interests and values of the great majority of Americans, even those who still espouse loyalty to it. This issue is especially salient today, as the GOP accelerates its efforts to disenfranchise as many Democratic-leaning voters as possible in states where it currently has the power to do so. …


Conscious emotional states influence behavior as a function of learning and anticipation, not direct causation

Boy excited about new shoes. Wearing old, ratty shoes.
Boy excited about new shoes. Wearing old, ratty shoes.
Photo by Gerald Waller, LIFE magazine December 30, 1946

There is a traditional model of emotion and behavior that says conscious emotion is a direct cause of behavior. This model has dominated thinking about emotion at least since the days of the ancient Greeks. At first glance, it seems to make perfect sense. Don’t emotions make us act? If we get angry, we attack our foe. If we experience fear, we freeze or run away. If we feel love, we want to embrace our beloved. But a closer examination reveals flaws in this simple characterization.

Direct emotional causation of behavior certainly makes sense for animals that lack the sophisticated…


Can vaccine-hesitancy be overcome by essentially replacing “Just Say No” with “Just Say Yes”?

Nancy Reagan promotes her “Just Say No” campaign at a Washington Redskins football game in 1988.
Nancy Reagan promotes her “Just Say No” campaign at a Washington Redskins football game in 1988.
Photo by Doug Mills/Associated Press

by Steve Genco, Kimberly Rose Clark, and Matthew Tullman

In 1982, First Lady Nancy Reagan visited the Longfellow Elementary School in Oakland California. When a schoolgirl asked her what she should do if she were offered drugs, the First Lady replied, “Just say no.” With those three words, one of the most ubiquitous Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaigns in modern American marketing was born. It was also one of the first truly multi-platform campaigns, encompassing TV and radio ads, op-ed pieces in major newspapers, dozens of appearances by Nancy Reagan on talk shows, cameos on popular TV sitcoms, and even…


New and exciting vs. trusted and familiar

The novelty-familiarity continuum. Illustration by the author

The opposing attractions of novelty and familiarity, which seem to tug marketing strategies and practices in two opposite directions, have perplexed marketers since the first marketing messages were crafted.¹

When presented as a dichotomy, there is no obvious answer, because good evidence can be cited on both sides of the argument. I believe a more promising approach is to view novelty and familiarity not as a dichotomy, but as a continuum. This continuum is the path along which a consumer travels with regard to any product or brand. …


Repetition breeds familiarity, but not always

Which design do you like more? (Illustration by the author)

Robert Zajonc first published his findings on the mere exposure effect in 1968. In an article titled “Attitudinal Effects of Mere Exposure,” he described a series of experimental findings that fundamentally challenged the psychological understanding of preferences accepted at the time. According to that understanding, preferences were a result of conscious thinking. Cognitions were believed to come first, in the form of information processing, evaluation, and inferences about a perceived object. Attitudes, in the form of likes, dislikes, and preferences among alternatives were believed to form only later, based on those prior cognitive processes. …


© Randy Molton, 2015, 2017

Recently I’ve been writing in Medium about marketing and persuasion, mostly thru the excellent publication Better Marketing. It is with some reluctance that I venture into the poisoned waters of American politics, but I believe we need to acknowledge that the United States can no longer tolerate a political party that has devolved into an organized hate group dedicated to overthrowing our American democracy and replacing it with a poorly thought-out plutocracy based on minority rule, voter suppression, racism, foreign collusion, and a shredding of our Constitution.

All around us today we are see a reawakening of American conscience and…


“There is a fine line between using behavioral economics to improve customers’ experience and using it to manipulate consumers.”¹

Image courtesy of UCLA Anderson School of Management, https://bit.ly/36eULV0

Beginning with the pathbreaking work of Kahneman and Tversky, behavioral economists have identified many practical implications of cognitive heuristics and biases for directly or covertly influencing consumer choice and behavior.

Two paths, contradictory in their goals but similar in their methods, have emerged in recent years. The first, which might be called the consumer well-being path, focuses on the idea that behavioral designs can be used to help people make better choices. As summarized by behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the purpose of this approach is to develop “behavioral interventions that help people be happier, healthier, and wealthier.”² …


What you need to know to know what your consumers want

Image credit: Shopper stock images, DepositPhotos

In a recent article promoting my book, Intuitive Marketing, I outlined some common mistakes marketers make when they try too hard to persuade consumers to buy their products and brands. That advice was necessarily negative — it described what not to do. Now I’d like to consider the opposite question: what are some positive ways marketers can influence consumers constructively, beyond simply avoiding traditional marketing mistakes?

Here is five intuitive marketing principles that marketers can begin applying today to build relationships with consumers that do not disrupt and annoy, but identify and align with the deeper wants, needs, and goals…


Obsessive tracking of product and brand preferences may be a fool’s errand

Do we buy what we prefer or prefer what we buy?

People’s automatic responses to repetitive exposure and processing fluency may create what appears to marketers to be stable and reliable preferences. But brain science researchers have found that human preferences are often much more temporary and much more easily manipulated than consumers’ sincere declarations of brand love might lead marketers to believe.

This is an area where traditional marketing theory has been led astray by the classic economic model of rational choice, which predicts behavior based on assumptions that preferences are stable, consistent, known before choices are made, and known with adequate precision to make the process of choosing among…


Transactional persuasion is not the path to consumer’s hearts

Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash

In the traditional model of persuasive marketing, the purpose of marketing is assumed to be the achievement of short-term transactional persuasion. In the newer model of intuitive marketing, the purpose of marketing is seen as something very different: the achievement of long-term influence through deep and authentic customer relationships.

When adopting the intuitive marketing perspective, it would be a mistake for marketers to view shortcuts like mere exposure and processing fluency as final objectives of their marketing efforts. This is because the kind of positive emotional reactions these shortcuts produce is ephemeral and easily manipulated — it can even be…

Steve Genco

Steve is a marketing innovator, advisor, and speaker. He is author of Intuitive Marketing (2019) & co-author of Neuromarketing for Dummies (2013).

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