The Myth of the Rational Consumer
You may think your clients make rational decisions; show them how you solve their problem and they immediately decide to buy! If only the rational consumer existed!
The Rational Consumer
Right-wing economists who believe economics is a science, developed an imaginary construct, the rational consumer. Assume thousands of consumers all behave in their own best interests and you can model the economy.
The political implications are catastrophic. Some politicians genuinely believe the economy works in this way. More than that they claim their madcap schemes are the will of the rational consumer.
Experienced marketers are aware the rational consumer is a myth. Most people do not act in their own self-interest because they do not know what their self-interest is.
Why do people not act in their self-interest? They have in effect two brains. Their emotional brain is fast and overwhelming. Their rational brain is slow and logical. Often they act on their emotional brain before their rational brain kicks in.
This is not to say the emotional brain is necessarily wrong. Marketers sometimes encounter buyer’s remorse, where following a good purchase the rational brain kicks in and finds reasons to regret the purchase.
Good marketers engage with both brains, using the urgency of the emotional brain and the logic of the rational so their client feels comfortable with their purchase. Motivate your client to take full advantage of their purchase. This is especially important for coaches.
- How does your behaviour vary from the profit-maximising rational behaviour classical economists insist upon. This may help you understand the reasons for your clients’ behaviour.
- How much choice do you offer your prospects? Remember too much choice can be counter-productive.
- How do you position your offers to guide prospects to your best offer?
Slow Down Your Thinking
There is value in thinking about your own thinking. Too often we rush to a decision without giving it proper thought.
Take time when you make an important decision. It is easy to get stuck in a narrow definition of the problem. Try to see the problem in its wider context. The problem as it initially presents itself is transformed when viewed from another perspective. Consider using a coach or mentor to help with decisions.
You sometimes find another perspective by taking time out and allowing your mind scope to reflect. Walking is an opportunity to do this and a good night’s sleep is also effective. Even turning to another problem allows your mind space to find another perspective.
Beware of Premature Solutions
Beware of the solution that presents itself as a problem. A prospect who presents with a request for help with their website is presenting a solution. They may be right and have already done the thinking for themselves. Still, it is worth finding out: what is the problem the website solves? Once you know what the problem is, you can assess the proposed solution. Sometimes a well-defined problem goes most of the way to solving it.
This is a really important point. The costs of solutions masquerading as problems is immense. An example of this, now in vogue is Brexit. There is no agreement about what the problem is that Brexit is meant to solve. Is it immigration or sovereignty? Both these problems are poorly defined. Worse the real problem may have nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with how we make decisions in the UK. A referendum takes power away from representative government. It disables opposition, which means the government is no longer held to account or able to receive feedback on its legislation.
Always find out what the problem is first! Sometimes clients resist this and insist on their solution. If you can help them understand their problem, they are likely to see their problem in an entirely different light.
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