Many people are understandably suspicious of marketing. Not only are more and more brands screaming for our attention, cluttering the many physical and digital spaces that make up our daily lives, but we are also becoming more aware of our psychological shortcomings. Rarely does a week go by without some sort of pop-psychology news citing research about the ways we are susceptible to influence or biases in ways we hadn’t previously imagined.
And while those of us in the market research world are equally captivated by these findings, we also know the limits in applying these in the real world. Because the real world is a messy place full of considerations like ethics, budgets, timelines, clutter, and many more that mean these types of social or psychological insights are hard or even impossible to apply.
But that’s not the kind of narrative that captures the popular mind. People love a good story. And the tale of clever marketers using scientific insights to persuade us to part with our money, spend more time in that app, or pause in front of the shelf with their product is a more compelling one. This is where rumors, myths and legends about marketing begin. To complicate things, sometimes these myths are true. There’s no doubt that sociological and psychological insights over the past 100 years have led to far more persuasive and effective advertising. But often the common understanding of how it is done can wildly inflate the impact or effectiveness. People see themselves as potential victims of a manipulative machine without realizing how often marketers are just grasping for straws.
Sometimes the rumors are true. Sometimes they’re outright false. And sometimes, the truth of what these scientific insights really mean in marketing is somewhere in between. This is what’s explored in the new segment “Rumor Has It” in episode two of our podcast.