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So much to say and so little time

I have so much to say right now with everything going on in the world and the disinformation and cognitive propaganda machines in full swing. 

Unfortunately between working around 60 hours a week, studying for my postgrad in data-driven marketing and family life I am having very little time. 

My aim for this site is to use it as analytical tool that show, hack and expose the Cognitive Marketing & Communication machines of big business, politics and the media in order for us to tackle and be aware of these influences in our own lives and the lives of those around us. 

For now a great video to start thinking about these subjects is below. Happy watching. 

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Brexit supporters clash with police

I wonder how many #voteleave voters align themselves with this lot? Brexit supporters clash with police at Downing Street after march - The hateful racist speech of the EDL and UKIP are really showing their true colours? 

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/brexit-supporters-clash-with-police-at-march-with-five-arrested-on-day-brexit-supporters-clash-with-a4104911.html

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Something worth writing about it 

The web is full of content. Full of videos, memes and a lot of other crap. Constant tweets and likes, shares and burps all in your face. In the world of digital marketing we are told to “make a lot of noise” as much as you can so that you have a chance of getting heard.  

We are also being told to keep it short. Keep it snappy for the people on the move. The people with the short attention spans that only have micro moments to spare.   

I am taking part in the new postgrad in data-driven marketing at the institute of direct and digital marketing. And amongst the multitude of things I have learnt so far a few stood out. One was that direct mail was having a resurgence after some time the in wilderness because it was more of a sure-fire way of getting a direct message and result that surpasses all the digital noise. Direct mail is a lot harder to ignore at least. It’s often more targeted and personal.  

The another was that I should read Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing because it predicted data-driven segmented and targeted marketing 20 years earlier. That sounded like quite a claim but as someone that has been in the digital and SEO world for the best part of 20 years, who had seen Seth Godin’s books time and time again when looking for digital marketing advice and promptly ignored them, primarily as they looked as though they might be irritating and not relevant. This decision was based purely on the fact they looked were written by a guy with a bald head and silly brightly coloured glasses and I wanted cold hard facts on how to get the job done. Now in 2019 that sounds very judgemental, and it was, I am not proud of it but that was my quick thought process in making my decisions in my less woke years in the early two thousand. And yes I did just say less woke as though I am claiming I am woke, which I am not as I am not even sure I really know what it means or care to find out. 

So as Seth was being recommended by my lecturers as someone to read, I promptly bought the book in question. I also then, surprise surprise, started to get suggestions on YouTube for talks or interviews with Seth Godin. Odd as I had never watched any before.  

And although my normal late evening pass time is to watch some of the Intellectual Dark Web type video debates from people I seem to admire, loathe and agree with and wholeheartedly disagree with in equal measures within the space on a few words they utter. I decided this one evening, that I had had enough of listening to heated debates where one person tells the other why everything they have just said and ever uttered, ever thought and ever believed was just all garbage and I clicked on the video with an interview with Seth.  

And do you know what? Even though he was talking about business and marketing, which after doing it for the best part of my day it’s the last thing I want to engage with late at night, I found it refreshing. I like the guy. It made me pick up his book, bald head of not, and start reading. But more than that he has an interesting but kind and gentle approach to telling people to just get on with it. To just do something. That waiting for your day to come means it never will because you have already missed it when it was right in front of you right here, all along.  

I just watched another interview where they mentioned that one of the most important business decisions, he ever made was to post a blog every single day.  That the very act of doing so, of writing about what it is you are doing, writing about your thing, your craft helps you get better at it. And I like that. I am not sure I can write something every single day. But I can give it a try. And this is my first attempt.  

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In this book / blog site

The hopeful result from this blogging site/social community is a book. A digital and printed book that can sit on my virtual or real shelf with pride. The issue I have always had with writing a book about digital marketing (and that is not all this is but it is the underlying theme) is that by the time you finish the third or fourth chapter your content can be out of date.  

So as experiment I decided to take the 50,000 plus words, I have written on this subject to date and put them in digital form and by way of what makes it live to the site what doesn’t is a process of elimination. 

Obviously some content is better digitally and some is better in print. I always feel though that books should be in print, hopefully from recycled paper.  

The objective, reason and rationale behind writing this book/blog is to deliver content from industry that can be used and useful to those looking to make real changes in the world.  

That is to say I am hoping to part with some of my knowledge, whatever that is worth, from my 16+ (at the time of writing Dec 2018) years if digital, direct and data-driven behavioural marketing and communications to people who are looking to make a real change in the world.  

The aim, eventually, is for the site to have tool kits, videos, podcasts and more that can be used by charities, not for profits, activists and beyond in the pursuit of making the maximum impact for thier message in the world.  

I am starting small and my own marketing strategy is somewhat lacking because, again at time of writing, I am busy in the doing, the writing, and as of yet have not spent enough time in the strategic thinking space.  

The aim with this book is to provide you with the strategic insights you need to plan and get results. So, it will be a mix of strategy with generic evergreen copy around the doing.  

This means for me that the next steps are: 

  1. Define the business model and vision; even if it ends up aiming to be a not for profit or social enterprise (probably the latter) then this still needs to be done 
  2. Define the operational and marketing strategy as well as the core audience
  3. Set out a plan with some milestones throughout the next 12 months to five years to make sure I stick to the plan to deliver the vision  
  4. Enlist the support and help of those around me with the knowledge and skill set to get it done 
  5. Get busy creating and enjoying the process of doing so 

Christmas time is looming and whilst the goose, I won’t be eating, is getting fat I will have some time away from the day job to strategise and plan.

 

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Our aim is to provide free and easy access digital, direct and data-driven marketing insights, behavioural and social insights from industry to those looking to make a positive change in the world. Whether is be charities or not for profits, activists or social enterprises our aim is to help you to learn to tools, techniques, technologies and insights that will give you maximum impact. 

 

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How do we survive the Digital Ecosphere?

It is no secret that these days that we live in two worlds. One real and one digital. Millennials will never know any different, well not until all the robots take over. But the is the digital world taking control of our real world? Can we keep up? Can we cope? How do we stay safe and free in the digital ecosphere?

From social networks to mobile banking to printers that order their own ink and fridges that order the weeks shopping to online dating for married couples to cheat and making new friends with perfect strangers in chatrooms to the internet of things and big data. How do we navigate this vast array of digital interactions and make sure we keep our privacy, our dignity, our bank balance and ourselves and our families safe and unmanipulated?

With Hackers being employed on mass by rogue governments, to our own government spies spying on our every keystroke and listening in on our conversations when we are sat around watching our smart tvs with our friends. To social engineers, tricksters and fraudsters worming their way into our systems and infrastructures. From big data used in digital marketing and advertising. To mass media and fake news. How do we keep safe?

With all the digital noise how do you discern the good from the bad? The real to the fake? How do we know who our kids or loved ones are talking to online or via smartphone app after app? And even if they are safe how do we know what these digital companies are doing with our data? Who they are selling it to, whether or not they are keeping it safe.

How are we manipulated by social engineers that want access to our bank account or big business that uses social psychological profiling, big data and behavioural economics to predict and nudge our decisions to align with their goals?

So that is a lot of questions. But what are the answers? Sorry, that’s another question. This blog has not posed any answers only thoughts to ponder. Via this site we might hopefully find some answers and ways to decipher and survive this digital ecosystem in live in.

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The People of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have a right to decide on the final Brexit deal.

Whatever side of the debate you sit on, Leave or Remain, surely all would agree that the public has a right to vote on the final deal. We are more informed now than we were during the original vote and again whether we were for or against Brexit it was a democratic process.

I am not suggesting that we have a second referendum although I see the argument for that. But I do think we need a final say on how we exit the EU.

Will it be complicated? Yes. Will the general public understand all of the nuances of what they are voting for? Probably not. But it is up to the present government and their Behavioural Insights Team to design the choice architecture in such as way that it can be digested and understood by the masses.

Will they get it 100% right? Probably not. But that is where the opposition parties, academics, lawyers, communications and pollical analysts can add their analysis of the proposals.

The one thing that is clearly apparent is that the Brexit vote divided the country. It caused friction in communities and families and has even contributed to the normalisation of hate crimes and for racism to have a voice. As we see similarly happening around Europe and further across the pond in the US. And whilst we can look into how the segmentation of people in the digital world is leading to the segregation of peoples views and identity politics in the real world it doesn’t mean that we as people or our political leaders should play along with it.

One thing Thersa May and the conservatives can do to unite the country again, and set an example for the rest of the world is to say enough is enough, these are the proposals we have on the table and we want the people of the United Kingdom to be part of the final decision-making process.

As someone who spends a big part of their working life as a negotiator, I can understand their nervousness of putting all their cards on the table. Especially in such a high level and complex negotiation. But sometimes that can give you more power and more influence in the negotiation process. Sometimes the most power negotiations are those open and honest and from there everyone can move forward.

If Theresa May could stand firm with Brussels and say “this is the peoples choice” and “this is our negotiating position”, then that gives her and her team a solid grounding from which to work from.

So why have I written this blog today?

Simply because I read a piece in the Independent that had a link to an article and a video to their “Final Say” campaign; link here https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/independent-sign-petition-final-say-brexit-deal-referendum-a8463961.html

The people of the United Kingdom should have a vote on the final deal that the Tories are putting in place. Whilst a second Brexit vote looks like an impossibility, people on either side of the debate should all be able to agree, now that the public is somewhat better informed than it was in 2016, that a vote on the type of deal we leave the EU with should surely be put to the people and not just left up to a government that does not represent the full spectrum of views of the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

If you are a citizen of the UK and you feel like you want to have a Final Say then please follow the below links and support in any way you can, either a signature, or join the protest, or contribute to the campaign, or if you can all three.

The below as taken from the Independents website

 

1) Sign The Independent’s Final Say petition for a referendum on the final Brexit deal at change.org/FinalSay

2) Register for the march in London on 20 October here: https://www.peoples-vote.uk/march

3) The People’s Vote campaign have organised the March For The Future - please help them meet the cost by donating here: https://www.peoples-vote.uk/crowdfunder

 

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Advocates for Change is now Live

One of the main purposes and desires for me with this site has always been to relaunch the Advocates for Change section previously found on insomiachat, on that site it was somewhat lost and the message I wanted to get across that as individuals and together we have the ability to make real changes in the world using digital and direct marketing communications together with behavioural insights.

I am glad to say this section of the site has now been made live and I have decided to change the name of the site.

The aim of the site remains the same. To provide people promoting special causes, charities, issues or areas of social change or people who just want to fight against globalisation by setting up their own small business or social enterprise and stepping out of the rat race, with the tools, techniques and latest best practice advice in the areas of digital and direct marketing and communications, to get their message heard and for it to be more persuasive.

I am also hoping through the communications and behavioural insights sections to show people how they can learn to better understand whats behind the communication of others to facilitate better conversations.

There is a lot that I have planned for this site, including in the future opening up the social community element and forums so that others can take part in becoming Behavioural and Social Change Architects for a better world.

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Consumer Control Myth or Reality?

Consumer and Voter Control is this just a Marketing Myth or a Hidden Reality?

As a digital consumer, we are constantly being asked to give our preferences. To accept terms, conditions and cookies all under the guise of improving our experience. Of delivering a more personalised web service and it works. To a point. If we set our preferences and start allowing cookies to monitor our every move and by engaging with some content more than others or filtering out what we don’t like we start to get a more and more of what we like, prefer and want rather than the bombardment of what we don’t.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way and often the “targeted” advertising r media experience could be no further away from the truth of “what you might like” than Elvis Costello is from walking on the moon. But of course, putting Elvis aside, you can sort this out with a few simple clicks, anti pokes and dislikes.  

We are told more and more that we are in control. We have a vast array of choice and a multiplicity of devices and platforms to engage with digital marketers fall foul of us at their peril. No more are we the captive audiences once swooned, beguiled and fornicated with by those barmey men and women of Madison Avenue. At least that is what we are told.

Switching back to my digital marketeer persona for a minute. I take and engage with endless marketing courses that spout the same truth. Courses that yearn for the enclosed areas of yesteryear where the customer was less informed, sat passively by as they were force-fed and garbage truck full of advertising junk food at every available opportunity.

These courses talk about consumer digital overload, being spoilt and bombarded with choice, so much so that more and more the discerning consumers are switching off and filtering out what they don’t want and deciding what they do.

Putting aside the arguments of this causing segmented silos in political and social debates, and being the cause of the most recent shock elections and votes in the UK and USA, as well as elsewhere in the globe for a minute. Yes, that is right I did just put aside it is one of the major contributing factors to the potential destabilisation of the western world.

Putting this aside, we are sold the concept of Consumer Control. Not only is the customer now just the king or queen but they are the judge, jury and executioner of the digital marketing campaigns of so many businesses and organisations.

So much so that as digital peddlers of spin we are told that we now need to be in the entertainment business and so we see so many of the desperate attempts to get peoples attention and make “digital noise”

People who were once shy retiring office marketing nerds (yes I mean me) are forced in front of a camera, or to the end of a microphone in the vain hope they might say something ever so slightly engaging.

But is this Consumer Control really exist. Or is it just another more clever marketing spin to take peoples to focus away from the fact that they are really the product being sold to the biggest marketer.

If we take into consideration the power of big data, marketing analytics, psychometric profiling used in behavioural economics and persuasion marketing. If we add in the ability to target consumers in real time with programmatic advertising based on not only what they are currently looking for but, with machine learning and AI insight, the ability to market something to you moments before you even know you need it based on hundreds if not thousands of bits of data, crunched, analysed and profiled by clever algorithms in code.

Putting aside every AI based disaster movie where every man, woman and child is depending on Will Smith of Vin Deisel to kick a metal tin can ass. Yes putting this aside too, for now.

If we take on the fact that digital businesses have social media war rooms (yes they are engaging in battle to take your hard earned cash and waste your time) that contain data scientists, analysts, Don Draiperesque creatures, psychologists, behavioural and social scientist, anthropologists (in the most diverse) and occasionally the office window cleaner, then how much control do we really have.

If we are more analysed than w Freud's misogynistic addiction edifice would be inside Crackers smoke fused whiskey spitting secret interrogation cell at the heart of the FBI behavioural science unit. If then this analysis is poured into the beautiful minds of the big data teams and the creatives department to fuse together perfectly timed engaging advertising and marketing, what chance do we have?

In the 15 plus years, I have been involved with marketing I have seen it go from the creative art or advertising and marketing to the realm of scientist, mathematician and metrologist. For me, this has been an intriguing and enjoyable journey as I have always been both very creative and analytical. But when we consider those that are leaps ahead of the game. People like the Cambridge Analyticas that are using these techniques to sway elections we have to ask ourselves where do we draw the line.

Whilst the premise of consumer or voter control may be an overstatement it is surely an area as both digital behavioural marketers and consumers and voters in our own right, that we need to ask some questions.

The worry is that these technologies and industries become over-regulated by government laws and bureaucracies. The same government that set up Behavioural Insights teams as us to believe they don’t use this knowledge acquired in any form of propaganda or social engineering.

Over-regulating of the technologies or the platforms will just drive the problem underground. The dark web is already an area that is attracting more attention. But putting aside the dark web. The tactics used by some will never be fair but being made aware of them and highlighting them does more to equip and protect the public than banning them and sending them underground.

The very technologies that were designed to free us have been our tombs. The digital technologies industry needs to rethink the role of technology in the lives of its users and instead of just putting up firewalls we should innovate to improve the lives and free the technologically enslaved masses.

Is it really such a big deal?

You might think it is not such a big deal. What am I wittering on about? But you only have to look around the world today and you see being glued to their screens walking down the street, driving their car, on the train.

No one is interacting but if that weren’t bad enough the new generations just grow up to know this as reality. They don’t get to see what the world is like and how people can really interact.

They grow up in a segmented profiled bubble where they are fed one worldview which only reinforces their own biases and can be steered in any direction by the manipulations of the behavioural marketer.

Because of the neuroplasticity of the brain this segregated digital reality becomes their reality and this, in turn, affects their physiology, psychology, feelings and emotions that can become manipulated through the triggering of chemical reactions produced by what they see, hear and read. We are effectively letting strangers into our homes to market and influence ourselves and our families. Strangers that might not have good intentions. At best they want us to spend our hard earned money at worst they want a lot more than that.

Watch the below videos of the now disgraced Cambridge Analytica and ask yourself do you want these people influencing your children? This company might now be gone but their are many others like them.

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We can affect change in the world

The biggest myth that is drip-fed subconsciously to us from childhood up is that we have no power in the world. That we cannot affect change. We hear it all the time and have no doubt said it ourselves “what can I do about it I am just one person, who cares what I think?”

This is the lie that the masters of society and consumerism have fed us to enact a system of control on us. This is not some conspiracy theory. I am not talking about shadowy men in dark smoke-filled rooms plotting the downfall and enslavement of mankind as I am sure most of these “masters of our destiny” are unaware of complicity in the manufacturing of consent. Afterall they are but slaves to the system as we are.

These myths are rarely born out of a boardroom but are socially engineered over time societal institutions, rituals and acceptance of fitting into the norm.

But we can make a change. From the trivial things we do like the food choices and consumer choices, we make, who we vote for through to standing up against hate online on the street or with our local political representative.

The myth is that no one of us can make a difference. But just think if every one of us thought we could, then we could. Not to forget that so many individuals have changed the world.

Even if we start small and say, “what changes can I make in my personal life?”, “are the brands I support with my hard-earned money those that are ethical, fair to staff and environmentally friendly?” “what changes can I affect in my home, my local community and my place of work, study or association?”

We can then take it one step further and look at home we can become better campaigners online, on the street, in the home and in society for a positive change.

How can I learn the tools, tricks of the trade, technologies and techniques to better let my voice be heard and to influence the change in others?

Well, that’s where the Behavioural Change Network comes in. Its early days yet but the plan is to have this as a portal, community and resource for people looking to affect positive change.

There is lots of content to come. But we need your help to keep going. In the future, we may have some low-cost training products to help generate some money to keep this project going. But until that day and to ensure we can remain advert free and therefore unbiased by the opinion of our sponsors. For that reason, we ask that, only if you can truly afford it, you become a sponsor of the community.

Our aim is simply to teach all that wish to learn how they can become Architects of Behavioural and Social Change.   

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