What lessons does behavioural science have for us financial services marketeers?

By Mark Hollander on Friday, 25 October 2019

Hands up. I’m a staunch believer in behavioural science. I’ve employed it in numerous FS campaigns at Teamspirit and seen the transformative effect it can bring to communications effectiveness.

For those unlucky enough not to have been ‘initiated’, behavioural science is a branch of psychology, built on the fact that from birth we are hard-wired in how we respond to information and decision-making when it’s framed in specific ways.
Take ‘normalising’ as an example. We’re pre-programmed to follow the herd; and influenced when a majority of ‘people like us’ go for an option. So, referencing that a high percentage of people have already elected for an option pre-disposes us to do the same. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it that affects us.

As a real-life example... in A/B tests, posters in hotel bathrooms detailing the real-life high % of people who asked for their towels to be re-used significantly improved requests for recycling over the existing, traditional eco-posters. And normalising’s effect works across all media. On a DRTV commercial, by changing just one line of the voiceover (“if lines are busy... please be patient”) the desirability of the product advertised was normalised, instantly uplifting response rates by over 10%.

Different behavioural scientists group the main ‘drivers’ slightly differently, but there are about 10-15 of these in total, including ‘reciprocity’, ‘messenger’ and more. Understanding them allows you to frame information in advertising, email, phone scripts and a myriad other ways to achieve your marketing goals with increased effect.

Pre-RDR, we created a behavioural science focused campaign for Aviva (“New Thinking”). It was designed to support advisers who, research showed, were nervous about conversations with clients who’d previously remunerated them indirectly (through trail). And would now need to pay them fees direct. Advisers were nervous about the potential decline in business – and advice levels.

Using video, sales aids and specially commissioned content, we showed advisers how behavioural science could them better frame conversations, providing practical examples, coaching and dummy communications. To ensure accurate science in our thinking and communications, we enlisted the help of Professor Paul Dolan of the LSE.

The campaign had an extraordinary effect, far exceeding already high engagement, lead generation and adviser brand perception targets. Also winning The Marketing Society Excellence and Chartered Institute of Marketing awards and spawning a subsequent integrated campaign targeting the needs of the Sandwich Generation.

If you’d like to know more please contact me at mhollander@teamspirit.uk.com

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