07/19/12 | Uncategorized

StartupOnomics Brings Behavioral Design To Startups

Impacting (big) behavior change requires understanding how your customers think and make decisions.

By Kristen Berman (Co-Founder, StartupOnomics)

Ever had a conversation with a startup founder? More likely than not they have used the word “revolutionary”. The very nature of the word “revolutionary” implies that the current, status quo behavior must change. But let’s be honest, getting people to change their behavior is not easy.

You want me to save more money? Eat less? Track my running? Help to crowdfund a project? Impacting behavior change in a customer base is a very tall order for a large team, much less a resource-constrained small startup.

Good news though – it doesn’t have to be that hard. Many startup teams spin their wheels (and their resources) building feature after feature in hopes that ‘this next feature will be the one that works’. While this strategy may fill up your product’s feature chart, it likely won’t change your customer’s behavior or your revenue numbers.

The true requirement for impacting (big) behavior change is understanding how your customers think and make decisions. By unmasking the powerful tricks that our minds play on us, you can understand your customers’ day-to-day decision making. And then start to influence these decisions… for the better.

Here are 3 behavioral design principles for user behavior change:

  • Simplify Choice – We get overwhelmed when there are a lot of decisions to make. This can paralyze our decision making process. But by cutting down the number of choices you give your customers, you’re increasing the chance they will actually make one.
  • Know thy Default – We also tend to be lazy and don’t like change. (Not you of course). This means that if you want your users to do something, don’t make them work. As much as possible, make the ‘default’ option the one that you want them to do. Just know that once the decision is made, we very rarely go back and change it.
  • Anchor away – We need a starting point. “How much would you pay for this purse?” Will get a very different answer than “Would you pay $50 or $75 for this purse?” By providing a reference point, people will gravitate towards the number or idea. This is also why having a free product to start may not be the best strategy long term.

Want to Learn More?

A two-day intensive summit, StartupOnomics addresses the part of Silicon Valley culture that comes AFTER having the next big idea. How do you execute in a way that changes user behavior?*

The summit will coach founders of game-changing, revolutionary startups to apply the lessons learned from years of academic studies and experiments on human behavior. The end game is a product that customers adopt, use and love.

Dan Ariely, author of two New York Times bestsellers Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality will lead the summit, joined by the top academic behavioral economics minds in the US. Learn to design products that are able to change fundamental human behavior.

StartupOnomics has extended the deadline by 3 days for Women 2.0 readers, so apply by July 23 and mention Women 2.0 as the referrer.

*The startup community hasn’t yet figured this one out yet…despite having all the technology tools at our fingertips. We need the human factor.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Kristen Berman is head of International marketing at Lytro. She is also a co-founder of StartupOnomics with Dan Ariely. StartupOnomics touched over 60 startups last year and plans to do it again. She has a long fascination with behavioral economics and has channeled it to facilitate the mash up startups and academics in order to change big behavior. Follow her on Twitter at @bermster.

Anne-Gail Moreland

Anne-Gail Moreland

Anne-Gail Moreland, an intern with Women 2.0, was on the StartupBus. She studies neuroscience at Mount Holyoke College, where she is trying to merge a passion for tech and the brain into a new wave of cognition-based technology

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