Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Power of Putting it Off

Procrastination is something we are all prone to at one time or another. Case in point: I sat down to write this blog post thirty minutes ago. Before I finally got to writing, I first opened a bottle of wine, flipped through the latest issue of Monocle, and answered some emails.

In his review of the new book The Thief of Time – a collection of essays by writers, social scientists, and philosophers on the topic of procrastination – the New Yorker’s James Surowiecki explores some interesting aspects of this ubiquitous bad habit.

For instance, Surowiecki tells us that procrastination is “a powerful example of what the Greeks called akrasia—doing something against one’s own better judgment.”

In other words, procrastination is proof that our decisions are more emotional than they are rational. I often say that 80 percent of decisions are emotionally driven, and that’s exactly what happens when we put things off. We succumb to the emotional pull of delaying unpleasant activities like starting a new diet or visiting the dentist.

The Lovemarks approach actually uses this aspect of human decision-making to help create powerful, positive experiences. Clients too often retreat to campaigns that list the virtues of a product, and invite the consumer to perform cost-benefit analyses before making a purchase decision.

Inherent in the Lovemarks philosophy is the understanding that, even if the customer weighs the costs and benefits of a particular purchase – whether it’s a new car, a laptop computer or even a toothbrush – their decision will be driven by their gut. If this wasn’t the case, we’d never miss a dentist appointment or cheat on our diets.

It’s the reason that Lovemarks seeks to make products, brands, and services irresistible, not just irreplaceable. By making a product irresistible, you appeal to consumers on an emotional level. And, as Surowiecki’s article shows, reason leads to conclusions, but emotion leads to action.

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