Harvey and Hugo

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Phone: 01325 486 666
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What is nudge marketing?

Here at Harvey & Hugo, when we are planning content and marketing strategies, we look at things on a deeper level than just selling a product – it’s all about the nudge.

For example, a social media feed full of ‘salesy’ posts is just going to bore people. Instead, inspire them, excite them and make them subconsciously want to buy your product or service without actually telling them to.

Nudge marketing is all about the power of suggestion and became ‘a thing’ in the 1990s. David Cameron set up the Nudge Unit – a department within the government (which is now separate) designed to achieve maximum results with minimal budget. These tactics have since been adopted by marketers to harness their power and make clever use of even the most limited budgets.

There are nine types of nudge marketing which fit handily into the mnemonic: MINDSPACE.




People are heavily influenced by who they receive communications from, and by personalisation. For example, The Samaritans’ generic email address is jo@samaritans.org. It’s highly unlikely that Jo actually exists, but by making this address human instead of info@ or help@, people naturally feel more inclined to get in touch.



We are drawn to things that save us time and money – it’s a predictable neural shortcut. So limited time offers, and one-time only deals compel us to make a purchase when we might otherwise think about it for longer.



We are influenced heavily by what other people do. Ever noticed when you are on a website such as booking.com, it pops up with messages such as ‘a room in this hotel was booked six minutes ago’ or ‘ten people are looking at this hotel right now’ – you’re more inclined to book.

Using testimonials and reviews is a great way to take advantage of norms and make great content for social media, too.



Pre-set options are reassuring, such as the recommended settings on your laptop, or set packages and menus for parties and events. By removing complexity, businesses can make it more likely that customers will make a purchase, so for example have two or three pricing plans or proposals that are clear to read, as opposed to a far greater variety.



Research shows that we are drawn to what seems relevant to us. For example, it is widely accepted that Yorkshire accents make people feel as though they can trust the speaker, so internet provider PlusNet uses a Yorkshire voice in its adverts and for the recorded elements of its telephone system.

This is about knowing your audience and making them feel safe and comfortable, so they are inclined to make that all important purchase.



Our acts are often influenced by subconscious cues. There is something known as ‘The Wetherspoons Effect’, whereby the popular pub chain calls its outlets something that sounds relevant to the local area and then features old photographs of the town along with old fashioned décor; so for example, the Wetherspoons in Darlington is called The William Stead. This gives people a sense of nostalgia and belonging, making them more likely to frequent the pub.



Our emotions strongly affect our buying decisions – you only need to look at charity adverts to see this in action! By tugging on heart strings or using emotional selling propositions, businesses can awaken the emotional side of their customers’ brains and make purchases more likely.



People don’t like to let people down – when someone buys you a drink you are inclined to buy them one back, and if you go to a friend’s house for dinner at the end of the night you’ll invite them to yours in return as you leave.

A great example of this in the business world is reciprocal networking – inviting contacts to your event after attending theirs. It also ties in with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – businesses make commitments to certain causes and will then deliver on this, creating a feeling of good will around their brand.



Whether we like to admit it or not, we tend do what makes us feel good. Whether that’s promoting our support of charitable causes, volunteering or something else.

A great example of this in action is a study by The Nudge Unit which aimed to encourage customers to donate money to charity in their wills. Those in the ‘Social Passion Ask’ condition – asked ‘are there any causes you’re passionate about?’ – donated twice the amount of money than the control which simply asked people to donate.


There are certainly some great ways to nudge people, but how can you deliver on this tactically? Tune in next month and we’ll spill the beans!

Still feel bamboozled? Throw us a bone on 01325 486666 or visit www.harveyandhugo.com.


Related articles:

Five ways to deal with digital disruption

What’s happening online?



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