Don’t Let Your Cognitive Biases Imprison Your Marketing Strategy

Photo by Jimmy Chan/Pexels.

Photo by Jimmy Chan/Pexels.

So you’ve just reviewed your annual marketing plan and are looking to reboot your strategy. You’ve noticed that shockingly, you don’t have answers for where the ROI is on that $10,000 influencer campaign you ran with Miss Digital Fame from Hype Popularity™. What about that $5 million you spent chasing the Super Bowl craze last year? You might be thinking, “what’s the matter with my marketing plan!?” or, “crud! How could I not have tracked this better….there must have been a higher return!”

Actually, you likely may not have been able to track it any better than you did, because chances are the ROI wasn’t as high as it should have been for the tons of dough your department put into it. But don’t worry, there isn’t anything wrong per se with your marketing plan. It just might be bogged down in traditional marketing not-so-best practices. In fact, your marketing plan might be perfectly by the book in terms of what has traditionally worked for marketing departments. Well, my friends, we’re in the 21st century, and this means we have access to digital analysis and better-tuned strategies like never before.

First, let’s shed a bit of light on why marketers (and maybe even YOU) are still letting themselves get dazzled by vanity metrics, and falling prey to continually using invalid strategies. Two words: ‘cognitive’ + ‘biases’. We published a white paper recently that dissects these cognitive biases with regard to Super Bowl marketing, and will summarize a couple of them for you below:


Social Proof (aka it’s popular, so it must be good)

Miss Digital Fame has 10,000,000 Twitter followers, and over a million monthly views on her youtube channel, so her digital popularity clearly means she has influence, right? And that must mean it’s worth spending thousands of dollars to have her Tweet about an upcoming company event, right? Not so much. If the Fyre Festival documentary has taught the world anything, it’s that it’s relatively easy to paint an incredible digital picture that might not match well with the reality of things.

Pulling a segment from the white paper:

A term coined by Robert Cialdini and used in his 1984 book, titled Influence: The Psychology Of Persuasion, ‘social proof’ is something that humans use to quickly assess the situation through the behaviour of others. Because we’re bombarded by information and often need to make quick decisions, social proof is a cognitively efficient way to guide our judgment. And though the lineup doesn’t always mean that the food is better, it is a safer bet to eat at that restaurant than the empty one.


The Availability Heuristic (aka the devil you know)

We can all surely admit that there’s been one time or another that we’ve chosen something solely based on our familiarity with it. Too often marketers end up reusing old plan tactics or sticking to annual campaigns, simply because it’s familiar. Everyone knows it can be challenging to make decisions when the choices are endless, and marketing decisions are no different. So why not stick to what you know, rather than risking the new decision? Because there are plenty of better tactics out there, and you can’t afford to keep the ol’ Lucifer around.

Pulling a segment from the white paper:

This phenomenon is known as the “availability heuristic”, or less formally “the devil you know.” According to Six Degrees, the availability heuristic defines the distortion of reality that takes place when we rely on immediate examples that come to mind easily as a source of their validity.

Photo by Izhar Zhan/Pexels.

Photo by Izhar Zhan/Pexels.


So, what to do about these hold ups?

We explore the Social Proof and Availability Heuristic further, as well as other cognitive biases in our exploration of why there’s an enduring appeal to Super Bowl advertising. This white paper details these biases further, dissects the real ROI of Super Bowl adverting, and presents you with an alternative approach to building your strategies.

If you want to explore a better approach to marketing that goes beyond vanity metrics and cognitive biases, then this white paper is for you.


Check it out for free here.

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