For no particular reason I’ve found myself reading/watching/listening to a lot of things about the application of behavioural science to marketing. At college I studied educational psychology and found it fascinating how the human brain works. But after A levels I didn’t think much about psychology again…until now.

More and more everything seems to be coming back to the psychology behind why people make choices and why they buy certain products. I guess it stands to reason, since marketing is all about the art of influencing people to buy-in to what you have on offer.

For me, it’s making me think more about how to engage people on a deeper level. I’ve always hated the feature pitch because it leaves you asking ‘so what?’. Instead I’ve led with the benefits of a product/service, and how they speak to a particular problem you look to resolve. But leading with behavioural psychology should open up your audience’s subconscious, perhaps speaking to a pain they don’t even know they have.

Interesting stuff!

Anyhoo, I was listening to a webinar with Richard Shotton. If you haven’t come across him before you need to seek him out. He’s published a wonderful book called ‘The Choice Factory’ and he is speaking at the upcoming ‘Words at Work’ copywriting conference.

During this webinar, Richard talked about a thought-provoking technique called ‘The Pratfall Effect’. An Americanism, it means ‘a small blunder’, and is concerned with the idea that brands become more attractive when they admit a weakness.

To explain it, he shared the crude example of two cookies:

The Pratfall Effect 1

Even though they’re the same cookie, two-thirds of people said they’d prefer to eat the one on the left with the rough-looking edges – i.e. it’s the flaws that make us more appealing.

But why?

As the saying goes, ‘it’s too good to be true’. We instinctively don’t trust perfection and believe that there has to be a hidden fault.

Using the Pratfall Effect to your advantage

As a copywriter, you need to show people a tangible example of your honesty; admit a flaw and the audience is more likely to believe your claims, and ultimately, buy into your brand more.

Here is a great example from Richard:

The Pratfall Effect 2

Attending an awards masterclass a few months ago they said the same thing. People don’t want to hear about how perfect everything is because they know we live in the real world where something always goes wrong. What makes us human is our vulnerabilities. And what makes us engage is a need to help.

So what’s your flaw?

Considering I’ve carved my career in the IT industry, one of my biggest flaws (or at least one I’m prepared to admit to!) is that I’m not a techie. I must have written hundreds of articles about storage, data centres, cloud, end user computing…but I genuinely have no idea about how these things ‘technically’ work. But then, I think it’s better that I don’t. If I get bogged down in the technical detail, how am I ever going to sell your product/service into the C-Suite?

So hit me: what flaws do you / your company/brand have, which you’re prepared to admit to?


Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash