The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change by Charles Duhigg

Have you ever wondered how much of your life and your behavior is dominated by your habits?

It’s safe to say that many of the habits we learn are incredibly useful. Habits mean you can drive your car (once you’ve learned how) without much thought at all. The assocations we form can help keep us safe, for example – that touching a stove is dangerous because it’s hot.

On the other hand what about the habits that aren’t so useful? The food we eat (or don’t) ththe power of habite exercise we do (or don’t) and so on and so forth.

That’s where this insightful book enters the picture. How can we change the habits that we don’t like?

It turns out (as with most things) the first step is to uncover or recognise the habit. In other words – you have to want to change.

Get that part started and then read this book for some amazing stories and facts on how the brain works and how habits can be changed.

It all centres around this one theme: “habits can be changed, if we understand how they work.”

I read this book just out of pure self-interest, but as it turns out, it’s also incredibly relevant to marketers. The different marketing examples weaved throughout are brilliant; touching on AA (for alcholics), McDonalds and even the selling of toothpaste (creating the tingly feeling helped set up a habit).

“Every McDonald’s, for instance, looks the same—the company deliberately tries to standardize stores’ architecture and what employees say to customers, so everything is a consistent cue to trigger eating routines,” writes Charles.

Even the training of Michael Phelps into a champion through the use of habits is touched on.

Business wise, the book delves into ‘keystone habits’ and how businesses can use these to transform their practices and culture. For example focusing on safety as a key habit to trasnform (and then this leading to across the board changes).

6 quotes from the Power of Habit

(headings = mine, all quotes directly from the book)

1. Habits are everywhere
“One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.”

2. Habits = helpful
“Without habit loops, our brains would shut down, overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily life.”

3. It’s a three-step process
“This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.”

4. Sorry, you can’t delete a habit
“Habits never really disappear. They’re encoded into the structures of our brain, and that’s a huge advantage for us, because it would be awful if we had to relearn how to drive after every vacation.”

5. Instead of deleting you need to change it (or create a new one)
“Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.”

6. Because the golden rule is…
“You Can’t Extinguish a Bad Habit, You Can Only Change It.”

Happy reading,
C x

How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination by Sally Hogshead

If yofascinateu’ve ever had to do a personality test (Myers Briggs etc) then you’ll know that they can sometimes have unexpected consequences.

I’ve seen people fudge answers (I’m definitely C, but if I pick B that might look better to my boss). And generally berate themselves about their results, “I got A but I need to become more like B.”

It’s time to throw out the old for something new.

And that something new (in my opinion) is this new online test (and matching book) – the fascination advantage.

It’s designed by Sally Hogshead (advertising/marketing expert, among other talents) and she’s designed it as a personality test based on the seven different ways to fascinate.

The magic seven? Power, prestige, trust, alert, passion, innovation and mystique. (see web or book for more on each area) Read More

Buyology: How Everything We Believe About Why We Buy is Wrong by Martin Lindstrom

This book = an amazing blend of science and marketing.buyology

If you’ve ever wondered why you purchase some of the things you do (for me it’s the iphone) then you need to read this book.

Martin’s research centers on something called neuromarketing, which means he is doing brain scans (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to figure out if and why people actually do like/buy/try a product or service.

The reason? Martin says the most market research is ultimately flawed is because people are poor at reporting their own actions.

For example one of his studies was on reality tv. Asking people if they would watch it the show again proved a poor test, most said no. The scanning however, told a different story. He was able to accurately predict which of the reality shows would be a big success based on the scans.

Martin believes that traditional research methods like asking customers why they buy only gives you a tiny insight.

For example:
“Most of us can’t really say, I bought that Louis Vuitton bag because it appealed to my sense of vanity, and I want my friends to know I can afford a $500 purse, too.”

If you’re slightly paranoid and have a bit of a ‘big brother is watching’ type belief then I would NOT recommend this book! Some of this stuff is scary! Particularly from an ethical viewpoint, and, as with most tools, this brain-scanning type of research could definitely be used for good or evil!

One of my favourite parts of the book fcosues on branding and how much emotion plays a part in the choices we make. I think this chapter very close to the truest words I’ve seen on branding which is this: everything is perceptual.

“…when we brand things, our brains perceive them as more special and valuable than they really are.”

Here’s a few more interesting snippets:

  • “Why? Because emotions are the way in which our brains encode things of value, and a brand that engages us emotionally—think Apple, Harley-Davidson, and L’Oréal, just for starters—will win every single time.”
    “But again, what’s beginning to show up in the fledgling world of brain scanning is the enormous influences our emotions have on every decision we make.”
  • “So buyers beware. Because the future of advertising isn’t smoke and mirrors—it’s mirror neurons. And they will prove even more powerful in driving our loyalty, our minds, our wallets, and our Buyology than even the marketers themselves could have anticipated.”
  • “In all my years helping companies develop and strengthen their brands, there’s one thing I’ve seen time and time again: rituals help us form emotional connections with brands and products.”
  • “But the question remains: Is it the sex that is selling or the controversy? Evidence points to the latter.”

And if you’re doing product placements then you need to read the chapter on American Idol 
(Martin studied the different sponsors of American Idol, including Ford and Coca-Cola and figured out what types of placements do and don’t work)

  • “So why was Coke’s strategy so successful, while Ford’s wasn’t? They both spent the same stupendous amount of money on their media campaigns.”
  • “To understand the results, think back to the way in which their advertising was integrated into the program. Coke permeated 60 percent of the show’s running time with its artfully placed cups, furniture evoking the shape of its bottles, and Coke-red walls. Ford, on the other hand, simply ran traditional commercials that didn’t intrude on the program at all.”
  • “In short, the results revealed that we have no memory of brands that don’t play an integral part in the storyline of a program.”
  • “What’s more, in order for product placements to work, the product has to make sense within the show’s narrative.”

Want more? Grab the book here.

Happy reading,
C x

How to Work a Room by Susan RoAne

With the rise of online shopping, online dating (tinder anyone?) and online connection (Facebook, Twitter)… I wonder if the art of face-to-face networking will become even more of a struggle for some?workaroom

This book deals with how to shine at those face-to-face networking events.

Perhaps you’ve had one that you need (or want) to go to for business? You want to go but you’re scared of that big room full of strangers. Next thing you know, you’re sweating, feeling sick and coming up with excuses not to attend.. Well here’s a few tips and tricks you can try.

My fav quote is wee aronymn that Susan uses called OAR> observe, ask, reveal.

She emphasises that along with asking questions (a common tip you’ll find in every communication book) is that you need to REVEAL something about yourself.

I think this is a big hurdle for many who struggle with connecting. As Susan rightly points out – if you just ask questions then it will come across as an interrogation rather than a conversation!

Many of the tips in this book were similar to what I’ve read elsehwere, so I’ve only mentioned a few favourites. If you like this sort of advice then another one to try out is Leil Lowndes book ‘How to Talk to Anyone’. Read More

Marketing In Less Than 1000 Words (Reactor15 Briefings) by Rob Burns

This was a quick and clever little read. A nice refresher on some key marketing principles and it’s FREE! (yes free). Marketing in Less than 1000

I love this minimalist approach – and in a similar fashion I’ll keep my favourite quotes nice and short!

4 tips from Marketing in Less than 1000 Words 

(headings = mine, quotes directly from the book)

1. A simple definition of marketing
“What is marketing? It’s the art of finding buyers for products and services at a profit.”

2. Solve your customers problems – better than anyone else
“How? Identify a buying audience with an itch that you can learn to scratch better than anyone else. Simply, solve problems at a profit. The greater the problem you can solve, the greater the potential profit.” Read More

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams

This guy has some pretty controversial advice!Scott-Adams1

I thought he probably went a bit general and tried to cover everything in this book, but there’s still some good advice in here.

The author also freely admits that a cartoonist is the last person you should take advice from! So I’ve taken his advice and ignored all the advice I didn’t agree with – and copied some of my favourite advice for you below.

The most interesting part of his story was that he completely lost the ability to speak to others due to a medical condition – and interspesed throughout the book is how he cured this. I was hoping for a sort of micrculous, figured-it-out-myself kind of story, but (spoiler alert) he ends up with some ground-breaking surgery.

Again this book is more general life advice, rather than marketing. But hey I only have one book blog so it goes here!

9 tips from Scott Adams

(headings = mine, quotes directly from the book) 

Invite failure
“The short answer is that over the years I have cultivated a unique relationship with failure. I invite it. I survive it. I appreciate it. And then I mug the shit out of it.” Read More