There is a great book called Habit: The 95% of Behavior That Marketers Ignore by Neale Martin. Martin’s work is based on Daniel Kahneman’s work. Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economics by studying the neuroscience of how people buy stuff. Both of these books further reinforces this concept that people buy based more on emotion, memory, and ease than any other factors. And yet, what do we do when we present for a project? We focus on our resume, the experience of our project teams, the site logistics, the schedule, and the budget. We say that we will build the project with good quality and safety. Blah, blah, blah. You and everyone else.
According to Martin, your customer is looking for shortcuts to good decisions. There are two basic ways that the brain approaches thinking and decision making: Martin calls these two separate areas of the brain the habitual mind (System 1) and the executive mind (System 2). Think of a video of a baby laughing. Your response is from your habitual mind or subconscious. You don’t have to think about it. It’s an automatic response.
Now try to solve this in your head: 578 X 634 =
You are now engaging your executive mind (System 2) or the prefrontal cortex. And it’s hard. It takes effort. It takes energy. It takes glucose, a precious commodity for the brain. You probably gave up pretty quickly with trying to solve that equation in your head. The brain is pretty lazy. When faced with this type of brain work, the brain usually reverts to some other state that involves less work. That is one of the reasons some owner’s choose contractors on price alone. It’s easy. Low number wins.
On a personal level, think of mayonnaise. If you don’t like mayonnaise, think of peanut butter. What is your brand? Is it Kraft, Hellman’s, Dukes’, Miracle Whip, Blue Plate? Do you look at the price when you purchase it? If there was a mayonnaise beside your brand called Jerry’s Mayonnaise, and it was 50 cents cheaper, would you buy it? Of course not. That purchasing decision is based on emotion and memory. You probably grew up with that mayonnaise and maybe remember a wonderful home grown tomato sandwich slathered with the mayonnaise.
Our mantra for companies who embrace this work is that you must create a positive emotional experience instead of just a transaction. So what kind of emotional experiences are you creating in your offices and on your projects right this very minute? What do people feel when they walk into your office or the job-site trailer? What kind of emotional connections are you making with your outgoing messages? Most outgoing messages I listen to are pretty horrible. Some messages are an electronic voice that says the number. I always redial those thinking that I have reached a wrong number. Is your outgoing message transactional or connecting? What kind of emotional connections are you and your folks making with project stakeholders as you read this blog? Are they contentious? Adversarial? Filled with anger or other negative emotions? Keep in mind that whatever emotional state they are currently in will affect their future decision to work with you and your company, whether they are consciously aware of it or not.
Stay tuned for a compelling story about The Tale of Two Offices next time in Part 3!