MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2023

Creating Content to Bust Biases and Convert with Kenda MacDonald

People don’t think critically.

Instead, their “mental Minions” apply shortcuts to their thinking—which lead to Minion-level mistakes in decision making!

This can have terrible consequences in your marketing and lead generation, says Kenda Macdonald. During her B2B Forum 2023 session, Kenda shared her knowledge of how buyers think—and how you can overcome their Minions in your marketing.

Kenda will share more buyer psychology and insights this November at her B2B Forum workshop. With dozens of speakers covering all things B2B marketing, B2B Forum is the conference for critically thinking marketers (like you!) to gain new skills and insights, refresh your love of marketing, and ignite your career.

But you have to be there. Tickets are limited and prices increase next month. Don’t wait. Review the program of inspirational keynotes and sessions, check out our generous cancellation policy, and get your MarketingProfs B2B Forum ticket while supplies last!


There was fantastic work done by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Everybody know these guys?

So they wrote a book called Thinking, Fast and Slow.

They are Nobel Prize winners in economics—despite being psychologists—because of the impact of understanding how “System One” and “System Two” work. They didn’t come up with those systems, but they showed how [the brain uses] cognitive biases.

The impact of that was so important on how we understand the flawed decision making process and how it applies to economics, that it fundamentally changed the way we look at economics and purchasing decisions, right?

And it’s still with us today.

So basically they said, “we’ve got two systems. We have System One. And we have System Two.”

So System One is super, super fast. And System Two is super slow. Hence calling their book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

I don’t like to use the classification of System One and System Two because it gets confusing and you go, “wait, is this System One or is it System Two?”

So I like to use the example of the Minions being System One, and Gru being System Two.

Has everyone seen Despicable Me? Oh yeah. Has everyone got kids, or is a nerd like me?

So effectively the premise of the movie is that basically Gru is this criminal mastermind and he has this little race of yellow people that he seems to have somehow enslaved… which I’m not sure is a good message to send to our children…

But effectively they run around and they do all of this stuff for him. He’s super clever and he has all of these plans, but he only has two hands (or in this picture, no hands).

So they run around and they make all of the things happen. But the entire movie is them royally screwing stuff up the whole way through.

This is our brain. If we think about the fact that the person we think of as ourselves is Gru, we are the person that feels like they’re in control.

In reality, the person that we are is just a whole host of these little guys. These are your rules and your mental shortcuts that are running around and executing stuff.

When we create content, we create content for this guy, expecting that our audience is going to be thinking and in control of everything.

When in reality these guys are the gatekeepers to attention!

They’re the ones who decide what we pay attention to and how we do things appropriately. So they filter stuff out.

And they get it wrong a lot of the time.

And so we should be creating content with these guys in mind. Because when we create for those guys, we eventually get this guy.

So we do things fundamentally wrong.

If you want a little bit of evidence in it, you can have fun looking up syllogisms because it’s not only a fantastic word to try and say a lot and very quickly, but it’s a cool thing that the brain does. 

We’re going to do this to your brains. Right now.

So I want you guys to think about going for a walk in a forest, right? Going for a walk somewhere, really lovely. And on the path in front of you is an injured bird. It is black. What is the noise that it makes?

Tell me the noise. There you go. Right? Did everyone think about a “caw?”

Did everybody think, crow-related?

Most of us thought of a caw, right? So most of us thought about a crow.

So what your brain just did now was, you just had belief-laden reasoning where our beliefs and our previous experiences took some information…

And made a giant leap in logic!

If I explain a little bit further and said it was probably near a hedge, and the bird has a yellow beak, most of you who will have been in Europe will know that that is a black bird. It’s not a crow.

So that little bit of extra context means that you now have a correct inhibitory bias effect, a different part of the brain firing. So what we just did is we made a jump in logic.

And that jump in logic is System One, the Minions getting involved and being like, “I’m going to help!”

And “helping” in a way that means that we made a mistake. Okay?

Very small mistake—but we do it all the time.

So we want to make sure that that doesn’t happen with our audience.

The Minions rule everything. But they also ruin everything. They make mistakes all the time. And there are a lot of different biases that happen.

This is a fantastic piece of work done by Buster Benson, who just has the coolest name ever.

And basically what he did is, he took all of the cognitive biases that we have validation for and a reasonable amount of experience in, and separated them out into four different areas in which cognitive bias is going to happen.

This is a fantastic way for us to understand, as marketers, when is cognitive bias really going to hit us? Not focusing on the individual biases, but focusing on the groupings.

And the reason for that being that biases cascade off of one another, and when biases cascade off of one another, we cannot control them…

These guys don’t happen in isolation. They all happen together, and they can cause other biases to happen.

So rather than trying to mitigate—or utilize—one of these, we should be focusing on the category and making sure that we are de-biasing for that category. And that’s much easier for us to do as well.

So biases are going to be happening. There are over 120 validated biases, and that number grows all the time.

And they will ruin your conversions. Let’s have a look at some of them.

So, confirmation bias. I love this.

I love this cartoon. I’ll let you all read it, but it’s hilarious. Yeah, isn’t that what we all do?

We literally find the first bit of information that we’re like, “yeah, that’s it. That’s what I want.”

So this is us doing that process of encoding the information that we already have in memory and retaining that, rather than taking on new information.

Confirmation bias is dangerous. Confirmation bias is used very frequently in politics to cause massive divergences in audiences and polarization in audiences. Confirmation bias is really bad for your business because we’re always told in marketing that we need to be different.

If you are too different, you don’t fit confirmation bias anymore, and the Minions just filter you out. Great. Good job.

So what do we do about that?

The only way that we can get around confirmation bias is to get people involved in critical thinking.

So if you know that confirmation bias, if you are saying something that goes against industry trends or against stuff, and you have to get people thinking about, “okay, what’s the actual valid reasons behind this?”

You have to get the brain working. You have to get it using calories. It doesn’t want to do that. 

So in order to overcome confirmation bias, you have to get people into the process of critically thinking and evaluating stuff. 

One of the easiest ways to do this is to get people to fill out their own table and evaluate things. You give them enough information that they can make the evaluation.

So when you’re in lower sales stages, you help people fill out a quotation form, or something like that, that they can then take to sales to get an appropriate quote.

It gets them critically thinking.

Whatever you can do to encourage critical thinking will help people overcome confirmation bias. 

Then we get anecdotal fallacy.

An anecdotal fallacy is, “my sister’s cousin said this, therefore I’m going with this option.”

Anecdotal fallacy can be really, really dangerous when we’re trying to get people to critically weigh up different options because of the fact that they’ve already decided on something else. 

Now, this is because we understand things through stories. We understand something through a story, and we contextualize through stories. 

So when someone can adhere and go, “okay, that person was safe because that thing happened”—and we’ve passed stories on for thousands of years, that’s how we’ve passed information on—the brain goes, “that’s more important than something I’ve read somewhere else.” Okay?

So, social proof. Testimonials. Please put a face in your testimonials and make sure that you are talking appropriately through the medium of stories. So help people contextualize things.

Then we have loss aversion. We’ve all done this, right?

Spent more on something just because I’ve got free shipping. I hate paying for shipping. I will not pay the cheaper thing. If I’m paying for shipping, I will always go for the other one. I’m not paying for shipping. No.

So loss aversion affects us in lots of other ways as well.

The actual act of feeling loss in something is felt more than the pleasure of gaining something. Okay?

We feel more emotion at the aspect of losing out than we actually feel pleasure at gaining that exact same thing.

So when loss aversion happens in marketing, they might be looking at your competitors products and services and seeing a big list of stuff…

And then they look at yours and they don’t see a similar list.

And they feel like they’re losing out before they’ve even purchased.

So loss aversion can be a really nasty one for sort of kicking your conversion out, right at the end.

Published July 10, 2024

B2B Forum is packed with marketing insights, strategies, and tactics taken from the real world experience of over forty industry experts, packaged into context you can actually put to use.

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