How to Change Behaviour with Adam Ferrier

Adam Ferrier

with Adam Ferrier


In this week’s podcast, Troy speaks with Australia’s leading consumer psychologist, Adam Ferrier. A regular commentator on consumer behaviour on TV and author of “The Advertising Effect – How to Change Behaviour, ” Adam recently started an agency called Thinkerbell.

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Show Notes

After graduating from University with degrees in both commerce and clinical psychology, Adam began his career as a forensic psychologist in maximum security prisons, then before headed into the world of advertising.

He positioned himself as an expert by writing a book (“The Advertising Effect – How to Change Behaviour”) and landing some TV appearances. When Troy asked him if he needed to overcome any self-doubt in order to do this, Adam replied that surprisingly, he had no problems with it. He believes that being different is sometimes better than being right. And that people often want to hear a new or different opinion to break through all the noise out there. And luckily, Adam claims to have both an opinion and a voice!

Ten years ago, it dawned on him that both psychology and advertising are in the business of changing behaviour. He has fascinated by this and wanted to explore it further. Adam explains that he has a love/hate relationship with consumerism. He explains that advertising is good for the GDP, but on the other hand, it creates anxiety, depression and false promises. The idea of becoming a consumer psychologist meant that “…the more I talk, the more I can inform people on how marketing and advertising works, how they try to change your behaviour and what you can do about it.”

How to Influence People’s Behaviour
Troy asked Adam for some tips on how we can start influencing potential customers’ behaviour. They briefly touched on Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion and Adam said that it doesn’t matter who you follow, the important thing is to set yourself a foundation of how humans work, then build into that. If you like a framework, stick to it.

Adam has found that the two key factors in consumer behaviour change are:

  1. Motivation
  2. Ease

If you graph these components on an X and Y axes, you can see that the higher the motivation and higher the ease, the more likely people are going to do what you want them to do.

As a marketer, it’s difficult to increase someone’s ‘motivation,’ so the aim is to increase the consumer’s ‘ease’ of choosing you over a competitor. The exception to this would be aiming to increase ‘motivation’ by creating something desirable enough that there aren’t any competitors.

Adam and Troy discuss the “Share a Coke” campaign as a perfect example of the above strategy. It’s the campaign where Coke asks you to buy a Coke for a friend. This was one of the most successful campaigns Coke has ever rolled out. Adam attributes it’s success to the fact that Coke is asking people to do them a favour – enlisting the principle of reciprocity. Consumers get a sense of ownership and are rationalising Coke as being worthy of buying for a friend.

At the 15 minute mark of the interview, the boys discuss the Australian Jeep campaign – another hugely successful marketing campaign that Adam was involved in developing. The premise of the campaign was to make an extraordinary purchase sound ordinary.

Interestingly, although this has been the most successful social campaign in Australia, no money was spent on social media advertising at all! (See the shownotes for links to the ads.)

Back to Adam’s tips for how a brand can influence consumer behaviour…

Firstly, Adam says to ignore the consumer and think about what you want to stand for. Build your assets and communicate what it is you want your company to stand for – your proposition and goals. You need this to be crystal clear.

Once you understand this and are fully consistent with your suite of assets, only now should you start to think about how you are going to market your product or change behaviour. To do this, you need to ask the following questions:

  • What’s my business goal?
  • Whose behaviour do I have to change to reach my goal?
  • What are the barriers between motivation and ease to achieve these goals?

Finally, you can work on developing your strategies from these answers.

On Thinkerbell…

Thinkerbell’s proposition is: Measured magic – scientific enquiry meets hard-core creativity.
Adam loves ideas and creativity and finds the whole advertising world fascinating. He gets so much satisfaction from building an agency from the ground up – developing the name, the logo, finding a suite of clients, etc. He thrives in mess, chaos and being unstructured (which kind of goes hand in hand with starting a business!) and believes that when starting a business, it comes back to being clear about what you stand for “…then so much of your decision making is taken care of.”

Tune into the 26:30 mark of the interview where Adam gives some sage advice on owning and embracing your weaknesses. “Don’t try too hard to get it all perfect.”

This was such a fascinating interview! If you want to hear more about Adam’s experience you can listen to his podcast interview with Troy’s wife Amy of the “We All Wear it Differently” podcast.

Be sure to leave us a comment and let us know your take on the conversation. Time to go elevate!

Gold Nugget Takeaway

2 Key Factors to Influencing Consumer Behaviour:

1. Motivation
2. Ease

The higher the ease and motivation, the higher the result of behaviour change.

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Troy Dean

I am the Founder of Agency Mavericks. The reason I get out of bed every day is because I love helping people to grow their web design or digital marketing businesses. I do this through coaching, creating courses, speaking, consulting and heading up our awesome community.

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