Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Shaping Decisions

What kind of information do we seek?

In order to make a decision we process information from a variety of sources.   Not a terribly earth shattering idea in that statement.  But can we create a framework that helps navigate a world where consumers process a wide variety of information feeds (and I'm being general as opposed to focusing on RSS and the like) in a decidedly non-linear fashion. 

Given that information is processed to come to a decision, opinion, or a better understanding then the question becomes what kinds of information do we leverage in each situation?  Are there situations where different types of information play a more important role?   If we can categorize information and map it to personal objectives then we have a better chance of developing successful marketing programs.   

As a thought starter, there might be four types of information that shape a decision.
  1. Promotional: product, price and place.  The focus is on incentive.
  2. Emotional: brand.  The focus is on aspirations.
  3. Informational: rational and comparative.  The focus is on reference and supporting evidence.
  4. Communal: shared, user generated, social.   The focus is on recommendations. 
The weight an individual gives to a particular type of information could vary depending on intent, need state and prior experience. 
  • Intent: buy, seek, share, discover, discuss
  • Need: latent, chronic or acute as driven by timing and intensity of problem resolution
  • Experience: collective perception from use or exposure. 
If I need a new hot water heater then recommendations and incentives might make the most sense right now.   On the other hand, if I'm browsing for a new car then a combination of aspirations and factoids might be more appropriate to narrow down the options.  

As marketers, how do we ensure the experience is consistent across content types?   How do we orchestrate the process and exude some influence?