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Why aren’t people buying? Don’t succumb to “Me-Theory.”

.By Ron Evans

I remember working with an arts client a couple of years ago to set prices on classes they were offering. My client and I were sitting outside at a small coffeeshop table. He said “I think people aren’t taking these classes because they’re too expensive.”

“Ok” I said. “Let’s run with that theory. Why do you think people feel it is too expensive?”

He thought for a moment. “Well, if I was going to take this class, I would think it is too expensive.”

Little did he know that his answer would inspire a Monday Evening Insights years later. But his answer is a great example of “false-consensus bias” or the tendency to overestimate how much other people agree with us. A psychology colleague of mine simply calls this “me-theory” — a person’s perspective that “other people will make the same choices, behave the same way, and ultimately agree with… me.”

Without any other information to go on, my client decided that the reason people were not taking the classes was because they were too expensive, which supported his own feeling that the classes were too expensive. In reality, there were many potential reasons people were not taking the classes. Perhaps they were scheduled at a bad time. Maybe the syllabus was not a match to what people wanted to learn. Or a hundred other reasons.

In the end, we discovered that my client’s email marketing newsletters were being marked as junk. Once we fixed that, he saw a wave of class signups.

“Me-theory” must be combatted. We do this by creating hypotheses that are then proven or disproven via experimentation. When considering why people behave the way they do, asking yourself “what would I do” is a useful question to consider, but make sure it’s not the only piece of data on which you are making your decision.

Time for you to implement. It’s Ron’s Monday Mission™:

Consider this: What is one decision you have made recently that may have been influenced by “me-theory”? With this in mind, what other alternatives or courses of action present themselves that can be tested?

Have a great week,

Ron

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