• What is the biggest interference on human reasoning?

    According to Psychologist Raymond Nickerson, Confirmation bias is a major contender (Nickerson 1998, 175).

    So what is it, and how can we overcome it?

    What is confirmation bias?

    Imagine you saw two sets of data, one that confirms your beliefs, and one that goes against them.

    Which would you trust?

    Confirmation bias is the fact that we are more likely to trust that which confirms our existing beliefs.

    That causes problems. We ignore data that goes against our beliefs and worse still, it causes us to seek data that confirms our beliefs and not look for that which disagrees with them.

    And marketers use it against you too.

    How marketers use confirmation bias against you

    As Zig Ziglar said

    “People buy on emotion and justify on logic.”

    – Zig Ziglar

    When we come to choose between two options, we are looking for evidence to back up our beliefs and the option we want.

    And confirmation bias means we find it.

    Marketers just need to give us excuse structures we want to buy what we want.

    How can we overcome confirmation bias?

    Badly. That’s the honest answer.

    Confirmation bias affects all of us to some degree, the best we can do is try to fight it by

    • Being okay with being wrong
    • Testing your beliefs
    • Trying to disprove your beliefs

    When it comes to purchases, that means laying out the clear criteria for your purchase as well as red lines.

    • What MUST it have,
    • What would be nice to have
    • What won’t work

    These criteria can help guide our decisions. But confirmation bias will still affect us.


    Confirmation bias causes us to look for favour evidence we like.

    The best tool against it is to be humble and look for evidence to disprove our beliefs.

  • Anchoring is a well-known trick marketers use to convince people to buy. 
    But we can use it on ourselves to make better decisions. Here’s how. 

    What is anchoring?

    Anchoring is a cognitive bias where our perceptions change based on what we see something compared to — the anchor point.

    Marketers often anchor prices e.g.

    • $10 book or $99 course (expensive)
    • $1000 workshop or $99 online course (bargain!)

    So how can we use it?

    Create your own anchors to combat marketers

    Whenever you see an item with an anchor, write down alternative options to create new anchors. Why?

    Writing forces us to slow down and really consider the points. It puts a blocker on those impulsive thoughts and activates our slower thinking systems.

    Plus by adding a new anchor you can pull yourself in another direction.

    So now instead of the limited options the marketers wants to present you with, you have a whole new set.

    Make better decision by anchoring your options.

    So next time you see an offer compared with one other option, stop.

    Write down alternative options at different price points, ease of access, time required, etc. Then consider what you could do with the time, money, or hassle you’d save taking another option.

    Maybe the time that more expensive option would save you is of great benefit for you, but maybe you could use the money you’d say for another purchase that would benefit you even more.

  • Hello, My Name is Awesome Book Summary

    I’ve taken part in a few brand naming exercises over the last couple of years. Most of these were for products but the need for a good name was the same. While it’s easy to spot a good name in the wild, coming up with one is another matter.

    For years I had just assume that it was a matter of luck, thinking and waiting, but the action plan in the book Hello, my name is awesome makes this process more straight forward, even if it does still require a lot of time, energy and thought to come up with a good name.

    This books summary has my main takeaways and will provide you with a guideline that you can implement as well.

    Table of Contents

      How to create brand names that stick Actions steps to come up with a brand name

      There are really four steps to generate a brand or product name.

      1. Generate 12 words that describe or are related to your brand.
      2. Follow a nine step brainstorming (or expansion) of these words
      3. Synthesize your research into name ideas
      4. Use the SMILE and SCRATCH criteria to review the possible names you have

      Why this process works

      This process is based on the same mindset as that in A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young.

      You immerse yourself in a topic till you gain mind fog, you distract your mind from the task and let your subconscious chew on it, you wait for eureka and then refine the idea from there.

      The process in Hello, My Name Is Awesome just helps you drown yourself in the topic of a product name.

      The additional aspect I recommend from “A Technique for Producing Ideas” is to engage in an emotionally stimulating distraction when you feel overwhelmed by a topic.

      The list of 12

      To start, you need a list of 12 words that describe or are related to the brand. Look for a diverse list and avoid just stating synonyms; that will come later.

      The brainstorming process

      The brainstorming process is about turning that list of 12 into a list of 1200!

      You want to dive into a wide variety of different stimuli to find alternative ways of saying a word or how others have used the name in the past.

      The nine steps are

      1. Using a thesaurus for synonyms
      2. Using image search to see visual associations
      3. Using a Glossary to find related industry words
      4. Using Dictionaries to see idioms and expressions
      5. Using to find Cliche’s related to the term
      6. Using Google suggestions and related searches
      7. Using movie titles
      8. Using book titles
      9. Using song titles

      Book titles are particularly useful as they aren’t subject to copyright and so can be reused.

      Once you have completed this process for every word, you will have a long list of ideas and inspiration to draw upon. You may be starting to feel mental and topical fatigue. That’s a good sign that you have fill your brain with the topic.


      The key part of synthesizing an idea is subconscious, but you should still start by consciously trying combinations of words and name ideas. You may find THE idea this way, but even if you do, let your subconscious have a go at crunching all the information you’ve filled it with and see if it can generate a better idea.

      Deliberately give your brain a break when you can’t think any more, but keep a note book with you. This break could be a shower, a long walk, a good film or a trip to an art gallery. relaxing and emotionally stimulating tasks work best.

      Once you’ve got a few idea down, it’s time to evaluate.

      The review process: Smile and scratch

      You’re review process has two steps.

      1. Smile – finding good names.
      2. Scratch – eliminating bad ones.

      SMILE: 5 Qualities of sticky names

      • Suggestive – It doesn’t describe, it evokes.
      • Meaningful – Something that will resonate with potential customers
      • Imagery – Something which is visually evocative
      • Legs – An idea which can be extended
      • Emotional – Something which moves people, reminds them of memories and associations.

      SCRATCH: Ideas to remove

      • Spelling – don’t use clever spellings, it confuses people
      • Copycat – don’t follow other companies, be original
      • Restrictive – It doesn’t allow for future growth
      • Annoying – Something that is forced or just doesn’t work.
      • Tame – Don’t go for a safe, boring and forgettable name
      • Curse of Knowledge – Don’t use a name that only makes sense to you and your inner group
      • Hard to pronounce – Make sure people can tell others what your name is

      Finding the domain

      Once you’ve gone through all this process, then you should look at domain names and usernames on social media platforms. This might seem like it’s too later and it might but the copycat step should help eliminate some problems by this point. If you find there’s another company with the same domain (and there’s a good chance of that now), you can either use a more unique TLD or add a verb to the start of your website domain, like which offers domain hosting.

      Grab a copy of Hello, My Name Is Awesome

      If you’d like to read the whole, short book, grab a copy bellow.

      Or you can check out other book summaries here.

    1. Marketing Made Simple Book Summary

      I was part of a marketing community where someone shared a confusing picture. Their diagram, representing their marketing funnel, was definitely not Marketing Made Simple. It sought to provide effective follow up to every action across every communication channel.

      I suspect that marketing campaign would probably be more effective than the one I will share from Donald Miller’s book, Marketing Made Simple. However, the marketing made simple book summary and marketing plan below is one that any business could implement AND it wouldn’t make a prospect feel herded down a path their don’t want to follow.

      Table of Contents

        Sketchnote summary of Marketing Made Simple

        A sketchnote summary of marketing made simple focusing on the five steps of a marketing plan.

        The No.1 problem with most marketing

        Most companies have messages like “Save time, save money”. The problem is, that could apply to ANYTHING.

        At my old job we literally used this as a test of a marketing message. Could we say it about some other computer software? If so, it was a bad message.

        The appeal of the “Save time, save money” message is from it appeal to our basic instincts – Time and money are limited and we need them to survive.

        While it is good to show how your product or service helps a person to survive, a message of “Save time, save money” blends in.
        When any company could say the same message, a customer can choose any company.

        You need to have a memorable message.

        Instead of a forgettable message, you need a clear message that sticks. It needs to be something that you everyone in your company can remember and say.
        Once you’ve got it, you use it everywhere and across your marketing to make sure it sticks.

        Three stages in a customer journey

        It’s obvious that not everyone is ready to buy from you when they first meet your company. Instead there are three stages in their journey (excluding when they don’t know you). (This is a simplified version of the classic “Stages of awareness“)


        When you first meet someone, there’s a lot you don’t know and a lot of questions that you’ll have. You want to learn the basics about them, get to know them a bit and find out more.

        Many prospects don’t go beyond this stage, they get confused or are distracted by the next curiosity. Have a clear, effective message helps.


        When a prospect has a moment of realization and discovery, they enter the enlightenment stage. This is where they know about you and have seen something valuable. They get how you are different and can help them with their issues.


        The final stage is when they agree to buy. To get to this point, they need to have passed through the previous two stages and be invited to go further.

        How the three stages related to marketing

        Curiosity – Explain who you are

        Once someone has encountered you, via ads or a social post, you need to explain who you are and what you do. You do this by inviting the prospect into a story where you position your company as the guide.

        This can happen in many places, but the main place is your website homepage.

        Enlightenment – give value / reveal insights

        The customer reaches enlightenment either by you explaining an insight or providing some value. This could be an understanding as to why they need your product or service, or how your product or service is unique and superior.

        This can happen through articles, podcast episodes and emails, but an easy way is with a lead generating PDF.

        Commitment – ask to buy

        To get a customer to agree to buy, we must ask them. This can happen on your website, in a social post and other places but the most effective is as part of an email marketing sequence.

        Execution – the key differentiator between successful and unsuccessful marketing

        The problem with many marketing plans isn’t the plans, but a failure to execute the plans. It is better to have a plan which you can execute rather than a brilliant plan which can’t be realized.

        The plan outlined in Marketing Made Simple may not be the most conclusive but when correctly implemented, it will be more effective than 90% of other companies marketing strategies.

        The Five-step Marketing plan to make sales

        A 5 step marketing plan that works

        A simple five step marketing plan is all you need. It should include …

        1. a one liner
        2. wireframe a website
        3. a lead generating pdf
        4. a nurturing email email campaign
        5. A sales email campaign

        A one liner

        This is the short summary or elevator pitch for your business. It should be the answer to the question “what do you do?”
        The simple formula is

        1. State the problem
        2. Define the solution
        3. Share the results.
          This may be a paragraph long at first, but later you can condense it.

        A website that converts

        Most websites make the mistake of telling the company story or just DUMPING information on the customer.

        marketing made simple website mistakes

        Typical website mistakes

        • using insider language
        • Long headlines
        • It tells the company story not the customers
        • And they have a confusing and unappealing offer.

        A ingredients of a good website

        marketing made simple outline for a website that converts

        Instead, you want a website that will

        • pique your prospects curiosity,
        • give them a reason to go further in your marketing funnel (your lead generator)
        • and provide an easy way for them to buy your product or service.

        A converting website should include

        • A header section – with your one-liner
        • The stakes – what happens if you don’t buy
        • The value proposition – what they will get
        • the guide – the evidence that you can deliver
        • The plan – what the customer needs to do
        • An explanatory paragraph – great for SEO
        • (optional) a video – helps build connection
        • Price choices – An option for every budget
        • the junk draw – for all the important legal stuff

        A lead generating PDF

        Okay, you don’t need to have a lead generating PDF, but you do need to have a lead generator, and a PDF is a low-budget, easy to produce option.
        This PDF should be

        • worth about $10-20
        • relevant to your customers and your products – you want to “qualify” customers.
        • Short – so your customer can gain value FAST.
          You can, and should, experiment with different lead generating PDFs to see what resonates the most with your customers. You can also repackage PDFs in a different format (video guide/series etc) to attract different customer types.

        Alternative lead gens to a PDF

        People don’t sign up “to get the next newsletter”, that’s why we offered something of value in exchange their email address. But you don’t have to stick with a PDF, and one of these alternatives can stand out more.

        • A short video series
        • A drip email campaign
        • A physical product or free sample
        • an in-person event where you collect email address
        • a short challenge

        Whatever option you choose, make sure you give something valuable and the customer discovers your unique benefit by the end.

        A nurturing email campaign that build relationships

        Most customers aren’t ready to buy straight away. They…

        • May need to know you are the right company for them
        • Might not NEED your product or service right now
        • May need to wait till they have the cash
          A nurturing sequence helps customers build stronger connections with your brand so they like, know, trust you and reminds them about your offerings for when they are ready to buy.

        This sequence should include

        • valuable tips and insights
        • customer success stories
        • website Articles
        • videos
        • podcast episodes and interviews

        It’s a good idea to email at least once a week so you stay top of mind.
        If you publish a blog, podcast or videos, you can include those which will also increase the visibility of that material.

        Good emails…

        1. Are short
        2. Solve a problem
        3. Are helpful
        4. Provide value
        5. Include a CTA (even in nurture emails)
        6. Include a post script – repeat the main message & summarize your content

        What can you include in a nurturing email campaign?

        A sales email campaign that brings in cash

        In addition to your nurturing emails, you need sales emails.

        Which comes first the nurturing or the sales?

        Don advises starting with a sales campaign after someone downloads your lead gen. This makes sense for the customers who are ready now and looking to solve their problems soon. You don’t want to keep them waiting for your offer. (In truth, this is a small nurturing campaign).
        Once a prospect has completed the sales campaign, even if they have bought, you should add them to your nurture campaign.

        What goes in a Sales email campaign?

        Don lays out a simple six part sales email campaign

        1. Deliver your lead gen – GIVE the client what you said you would.
        2. State the problem and the solution – This email shows you understand their issues and how you are uniquely placed to solve it.
        3. Send a customer testimonial – This is your chance to share how a customer overcame the same problem. It helps the reader imagine themselves in the clients shoes as well as adds credibility.
        4. Overcome an objection – the best way to do this is with another case study or testimonial but one that addresses a fear. “We were worried that…(objection to buying) but in the end…”
        5. Paradigm shift. – This is another objection overcomer but in this case its about reframing the whole issue. A common one is price. “That’s a lot of money for X!” “It is a lot of money for X, but this is so much more than X, it’s…”
        6. Sales email – Just sell. Don’t make a pitch, just ask the customer to buy.

        The best marketing plan is the one you can implement

        There are definitely more complex and fine tuned marketing plans out there. You may even be able to successfully implement one and reap the benefits. BUT, many companies miss crucial steps and end up with an incompletely plan that is more flash than substance.

        The plan above is both achievable and agile so you can adjust when you notice aspects not working or need to bring a new product to market.

        Get a copy of Marketing Made Simple

        If you want to read the original book (instead of this marketing made simple book summary) a copy for yourself.

        You might also want to check out my book summary of Social Media Success for Every Brand which is a complement to this book.