Why you think Trump is worse than George W Bush?
Well, off the top of my head there is the one about the wall and the one about grabbing pussy. There's the one about the Russian fake news ads and the one about the American fake news ads for that matter. There's the one where he said he'd like to be president for life, like in China. There's the one where he threatened “fire and fury” on North Korea via Twitter and this week was one where he told the UK to sue the EU.
That's without me even stopping to think, draw breath or look up a few more on Google.
But try to recall a negative news item about Bush, and you'll struggle to come up with more than a handful. Even if you're politically savvy, they're just harder to recall. They might include taking office by dragging the election through the courts. They probably include starting the Iran and Afghanistan conflicts. More memorable for us all, there was presiding over the financial collapse in 2008.
Pretty serious stuff by all accounts.
But, in a straw poll this week, most people said Trump is the worst president, not by a thin margin, but by more than 4:1.
History will decide who is the biggest villain, but for now, why does Trump stand out by such a big margin?
Well, lets kick logic to the kerb on this one and take a look at human nature instead. Most illogical conclusions that we jump to come down to a few million years of adaptation and survival. Our evolution served us well in our caves, but we aren't doing so well today. Under the media and advertising barrage that our punishes our brains by every day, we need new strategies.
Back when we were carrying clubs, and when sabre toothed tigers were a dangerous delicacy, we got expert at focussing on things. If you look at a caveman's skull they tend to have bigger eye-sockets and swell more at the back of the head where all the visual processing goes on.
Being able to focus on a rustle in the grass, and work out if it was just the wind, or a predator in hiding, was a pretty useful skill to have. We excelled at focussing on what was in front of us.
Memory wasn't so important. We had a handful of foods that we needed to remember were important. The way back to our cave, but nothing like the amount of knowledge we try to carry round in our heads today.
What was in front of us was important. Things we had forgotten and had to make an effort to recall were less important.
We still carry this bias today. It's called the Availibility Bias.
Simply, we attach more importance to things which are easier to remember.
Try this quick test.
Which are there more of ?
1) Words beginning with the letter K.
2) Words which have the letter K as the third letter.
Ok, well here's what happens when you ask large number of people that same question.
It's easier to remember words that start with K (kangaroo, kale, kill), than it is to remember words with K as the 3rd letter (ask, acknowledge, ark). Off the top of our heads, we assume there must be more words starting with K, when in fact there are 3x more that have K as the third letter.
It's easy to remember something, so we assume it's more important and give it more weight.
So, how can we take advantage of this as marketers?
Well, as any good copywriter knows, it's really hard to get people to change actions or attitudes. What you can do though, is get them to FOCUS on something intensively until they act.
That weight loss we've been avoiding thinking about. That insurance that's almost lapsed. The burglar alarm that hasn't been tested in months.
The very act of getting someone to focus on a thing and remember it more easily, makes us likely to think it's important to us.
So, here are three things you can test that are likely to take advantage of this bias. These techniques can get your prospects to remember your product, or at least the problem it solves, more clearly. And if they can recall it clearly they'll assume it's important, and make them more likely to act on it.
1) Placing testimonials ahead of claims in your landing pages.
Testimonials can be something of an afterthought. Putting some up-front, rather than at the end of your message gives the reader an example they can think of, when they decide whether your claim is believable.
2) Using newsworthy events which support the fear of the problem exists in your marketing.
Is there something in the news that can cajole your prospect in to action, or at least start them thinking about the problem? Be ready to jump on it, share the news and keep their issue front of mind.
3) Promoting stories which support your claims ahead of your own ads.
This is a variation on an advertorial. Instead of talking about your product, find a story that you can re-run immediately before presenting your solution. The marketing message that follows will fall on well primed minds.
This is just one of over 180 biases and weaknesses in how our brains process information and make decisions.
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