Nudging: An Effective Marketing Technique

Researchers have found that people don’t make big changes easily. Small, incremental changes are easier to make then big changes.

For example, electrical companies that want people to reduce their electrical consumption focus on having people upgrade the insulation in their house or purchase energy efficient appliances. These are big changes. They cost money and take more action than a small change. When researchers encouraged people to turn down their thermostat just one or two degrees in winter, many people complied and electrical consumption decreased. After all, making a small change is easier than making a large change.


In the book, Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein postulated that instead of banning junk food in school cafeterias and suffering the natural backlash of children finding that food elsewhere to consume, that schools should simply reduce the serving size of each piece of junk food. The children would not notice the difference, and their lives would get a little healthier.

The idea in Nudge is that instead of expecting people to make big changes, encourage small changes to move people toward the desired behavior. In one study, behavioral researchers added a red potato chip every 10 chips in a pack of stacked potato chips. The purpose of adding the red potato chip was to signal to the eater that they have completed a serving. The result was that this little alert actually cut down on the number of potato chips participants ate.

As an author, you can use the nudge technique with your audience. Don’t expect people to run out and purchase your book as soon as they hear about it. Instead, understand that your audience will need a series of nudges to push them in the direction of eventually making a purchase.

You can nudge your target audience by getting them to take little steps to becoming more engaged with you and your book. Nudges include:

  1. Asking your target audience to follow you on social media.
  2. Encouraging them to sign up for your email newsletter.
  3. Interesting your audience in becoming regular readers of your blog.
  4. Inspiring them to share your message with others through your helpful, engaging information.
  5. Drawing your target audience to take an additional step by providing them a free portion of your book to read, whetting their appetite for more.

Changing our behavior, deciding to do something new, does not happen overnight. That is why researchers find that people have to be exposed to a new product seven to twelve times before they act and purchase the product. Approach your book promotion activities with a nudge mentality, and you will encounter greater success in the long run.

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2 thoughts on “Nudging: An Effective Marketing Technique

  1. I like how this “nudging” approach squares with what I’ve been learning about the Buyer’s Journey. It’s a lot easier to focus on moving our target audience one step farther along that journey–say, from being newly aware of us to following us on social media–than to try catapulting them to a form of engagement–like purchasing a book series–they’re not ready for yet. Thanks for putting this into book marketing terms I could relate to.


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