Matt Wallaert Takes us Into the Future of Digital Marketing

Matt Wallaert Speaking about Behavioral Psychology at Confluence Conference

Matt Wallaert, chief behavioral psychologist at Clover Health, ended our first day of Confluence with an enthralling keynote speech about using psychology to improve our marketing strategy.

“Everything we do, everything we create, is for the purpose of changing people’s behaviors.” He exclaims, “Even this speech is for that purpose! It’s about getting you to do something different.”

Create a competing pressures model

Before we get into what that means, let’s check out his example.

Wallaert asked us, “Why do we eat M&Ms?” and people started out calling out answers, the first one being “they taste good”. Wallaert referenced the battle between plain and peanut M&Ms. Everyone has an opinion of which is better.

The next reason was color. He points out that if you give someone a bowl with only one color of M&M, that person will eat less than if the colors are mixed. Color doesn’t affect flavor at all, yet every kid under ten lines up their M&Ms by color and eats them one at a time, by category. Everyone has a favorite color of M&M. We know it’s irrational but we don’t care! And so, M&Ms use this for marketing. They gave colors cartoon personalities. When they changed the character color from brown to blue, it made headlines.

Each of these reasons (taste and color) are promoting pressures.

Next, he asked “Why aren’t you eating M&Ms right now?”

A voice shouted, “Because I don’t have any!”

Availability is a huge reason people aren’t currently eating M&Ms! Wallaert points out that if he put a bowl of M&Ms on your desk, you will consume 5 to 6 times more than if they were one table away. This doesn’t make them any more special than they were before. Just by lowering the inhibiting pressure of availability, people are more likely to eat them.

Another reason is money. “They’re not free!” Wallaert exclaims. Cost is a big inhibiting pressure.

So, what do M&Ms teach us?

He encourages us to complete the following steps when we return to the office on Monday morning.

1. Go into a room with a whiteboard and write a behavior statement.

You need to know what you are trying to do! What does a behavior statement look like? It has three parts. First, write the organic motivation that causes your audience to want to do something. Second, describe your limitations. Is it for everyone? Third, write down the behavior you want to see.

2. Draw two arrows on the whiteboard – one pointing up for promoting pressures and one pointing down for inhibiting pressures.

He tells us that inhibiting pressures are probably untapped space for our businesses. Focus on them.

He says, “Everybody in this room is locked in a death struggle with each other. I’m no stronger. I have no more minutes in the day. Yet, we conventionally market by trying to take more of people’s attention.” He says that by doing this, we aren’t delivering new value. We are diluting the return on investment. Successful companies give the exact same value that their customer is getting from some other service but make it so their customer doesn’t have to worry about it. This eliminates the inhibiting pressure.

3. Recognize your own biases.

The opportunity is on the flip side of the arrow you are working on. At the moment you suggest something new, you automatically want to defend your suggestion. Don’t do that! When you draw your arrows, don’t start generating interventions. This can lead you in “very bad, very wrong directions.” Stay relentlessly focused on the pressures. Then, go out and test the theory. Only after testing, can you design interventions.

Are you excited to try this whiteboard technique out on Monday? We know we are! And that’s the end of Confluence 2017 Day One!