Confirmation Bias – Marketing Powered by Belief

Fuel Your Marketing with the Power of Belief

Tap into what your best customers believe to drive dramatic marketing results for your business.

What I’m about to share with you is quite possibly the hardest of my marketing rules to master. But when you do, it will have a dramatic impact on your marketing efforts. It’s called The Rule of Belief, and it’s based on a phenomenon of human behavior called confirmation bias.

About Confirmation Bias

We all like to believe that we are rational people. We also like to believe that we base our beliefs and opinions on objective facts. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, it works the other way around.

We all harbor strongly held beliefs and we look for facts that help support our beliefs. We also conveniently ignore facts that undermine our beliefs.

Facebook offers a great example of confirmation bias in action. An international research study demonstrated how Facebook amplified confirmation bias. It did so by enabling like-minded groups of users to rapidly find each other and create “echo chambers.” In these echo chambers data supporting their beliefs spread rapidly. Conflicting data offered by users with differing beliefs, on the other hand, was suppressed.

How Confirmation Bias and Belief Affect Marketing

The power of belief and its impact on marketing are profound and undeniable. In their landmark book Positioning, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout share an interesting example about rental car company Avis.

In the 1970’s, Avis was a distant number two in the rental car market behind market leader Hertz. Avis wanted to be number one, so they conducted market research with some of their most loyal customers.

Avis found that these customers preferred them over Hertz because they believed that Avis was the number two rental car company. And because they were number two, it seemed like Avis employees worked harder for their business and treated them better.

Based on their research, Avis ran a famous T.V. campaign called We Try Harder. In these commercials they provided exaggerated and funny examples of their employees going the extra mile to make their customers happy.

In essence, Avis was marketing what their best customers already believed about them and a funny thing happened. Avis shot to number one in the rental car market.

The story doesn’t end there. Once Avis became number one, they decided to switch out their campaign. They started proclaiming themselves as the number one rental car company. Guess what happened? Within a year of launching the campaign, they fell to third place.

Avis’ story illustrates the power of belief and the risk of ignoring what your customers already believe about you, your products, and your market. When your marketing messages line up with belief, it’s like having the wind in your sails. When your marketing messages fly in the face of belief, it’s like an anchor around your neck.

Tapping into Belief

Lining up your marketing with the prevailing beliefs of your customers is a powerful force multiplier for your business. And it all starts with listening to your customers, understanding what they believe, and then using that to craft powerful and compelling messages.

So what are you waiting for? Reach out to some of your best customers today and do your best to discover the beliefs that they share about your brand and your market. Then use what you learn to fuel your marketing messages.

By the way, if you need help with this process please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. I’ve helped a lot of companies just like yours tap into the power of belief to drive dramatic results for their business.


confirmation bias in digital marketing

Dave Geada
CEO, Big Purple Fish

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