RESPONSE Agency, Inc. Blog

Predictive Marketing Tip #6:
Don’t Let ’Em Know You’re Watching.
And if they must know, don’t let ’em know what you’re watching.

Many workplaces have an honor system where employees drop coins or currency into an “honor box” when they partake of snacks or coffee. If you have worked in such an office, you know that people often neglect to do so. Some out-and-out cheat, while many honest folks who find themselves short of change resolve with the best of intentions to “catch up” later, but often don’t. Payments skyrocket, however, when another person is present. In one experiment, simply pasting a photo of a pair of eyes (versus a photo of flowers) over the honor box increased payment 300 percent.

The point? Like it or not, our behavior changes when we know we’re being watched.

Which leads me to Tip #6: It is best if your test subjects do not know that they are test subjects, and, ideally, that you are testing at all. Otherwise, they may change their behavior and invalidate results.

Admittedly, that’s not always possible. In that case, mislead your subjects as to what you are trying to find out. For instance, to learn how people judge others by their attire, Dress for Success author John Molloy did not show photos of the same model in different suits and ask, “Which looks more professional?” He told subjects that he was testing them to see if they had ESP. The pairs of photos, he explained, were of identical twins. Then he asked subjects to “sense” what each “twin” did for a living. He found that people consistently associated certain styles and colors with various levels on the corporate ladder. (Besides yielding good advice as to how to dress for work, Molloy’s experiment casts doubt upon the entire notion of ESP. Rightly so.)

One more tip is coming.

—Steve Cuno

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