Oct 19, 2018

The Nudge

By: Polly Yakovich

Content Inbound Marketing

I'm reading the fantastic book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness. I know what you're thinking: A working mom with a small business who finds time to read? I'm proud of me too. (Still on page 20.)

This is how Richard Thaler (the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner in economics) and Cass Sundstein, define the nudge:

"A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people's behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not."

This is a great challenge for those of us who create content regularly. Particularly for people that we want to do something new (like buy your product) or change their behavior (like come to your health clinic). 

Research has found that people don't really like being told what to do. In fact, not only do they not like it, they just don't respond to it. Facts don't change our minds.

Virtually every person in the United States has heard about the dangers of eating poorly and not exercising.  And yet our obesity rates continue to climb.

The Content Challenge

So how can we create great content and communicate information in a way that's compelling and puts "the fruit at eye level" to allow people to choose it for themselves?

Our client Vera Whole Health does this well.

In a traditional healthcare model, you might tell people what to do and not to do. That's the way the system has always worked, right? Well, not very successfully. 

Vera looks at patients from a transtheoretical or stages of change approach. Most of us follow something similar when we use the buyer's journey. When interacting with a current or prospective patient, Vera identifies their stage of change and addresses them accordingly. Are they in pre-contemplation? Probably can't tell them to go for a 3 mile run 4 times a week. They're not ready for that.  Are they in action mode? Now is a good time to give them tangible, SMART goals that they can follow and feel successful.

Vera also respects their patients. Rather than telling them what to do, they invite them to choose for themselves. This respect earns them patient satisfaction scores upwards of 90% and earns them high clinical engagement - people want to see Vera providers because they will listen with empathy and help the patient become the hero of their own health journey.

The Buyer's Journey

This maps seamlessly into how we think about creating content - whether it be for patients, prospects, leads, or donors. Hubspot offers a very simplified buyer's journey model, which can be expanded into a variety of decision-making steps.

If you want to improve your content today, map each of your user personas to the buyer's journey. When you're showing a digital media ad to someone who isn't even aware of you, what kinds of questions do they have? What are they looking for in their lives? How can you nudge them toward you by identifying with them and their needs?

When a prospective client comes to your site and they are in the consideration stage, they have very different questions and are solving for different problems. How can you meet them where they are and put the fruit at eye level for them?

Think about what questions your potential customers have at each stage of their decision-making journey. Solve their problems and help draw them closer to you. Not with facts, but with a nudge.

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