So how does your business stack up in the “halo” stakes?
No idea what I am babbling on about? Good. Maybe it will snap you out of the “I know everything” mental birdcage that makes you miss seeing the bleeding obvious.
Actually – all of us have a mental box like that. We miss the obvious. The more we see it – the sooner it becomes almost invisible.
In this article you will get an insight that may make the difference between your business thriving in a tough economy – and “failing to thrive”. So read it to the end.
One of my favourite books is called “Thinking Fast & Slow” by Daniel Kahneman. It is the second hardest book to read that I own – but each time I clunk through a page I get an uppercut from the obvious in hindsight.
That was where the idea of this business halo was whelped. You might already know about the “halo” effect in team recruitment – their is a bias towards the people you see first, or for a single time. (And you know that is why you ALWAYS use the “Rule of 3” before you hire anyone, right?)
So from Kahneman an activity that will save me typing, and that will snap open your obvious blindness to what your business presents to people who visit it.
Two people are presented to you with the following descriptions, and your task is to comment on their personalities. What do you think of Alan and Ben?
Alan: intelligent – industrious – impulsive – critical – stubborn – envious
Ben: envious – stubborn – critical – impulsive – industrious – intelligent
Because you are affected by bias – yep – like all of us – it is likely that you viewed Alan far more favourably than Ben. The traits listed at the start of the list affect the meaning of the traits listed later.
For example – “stubborn” and “critical” traits are improved by having “intelligent” preceding them. The stubbornness of an intelligent person is seen a reasonably justified, and may even evoke respect. But intelligence in an envious or stubborn person makes him more dangerous! (p82)
When I first read the lists of Alan and Ben – I did not see that the traits were the same – only reversed in order. When I did see it – a whole choir of Obvious Angels swooped down and slapped me until the massive implications of this bias started to overflow from my ears.
But let’s just cover a couple of the important business (read sales rocket boosting power) elements!
The sequence in which we observe characteristics (or a person or place) is often determined by chance. Sequence matters – the halo effect increases the weighting of the first impressions. Read that again. Weighting is greater in the first part of the sequence. Not only that – this effect is driven by our unconscious biases – that we are completely unaware of for 99% of the time.
Are you with me yet? Come on – think!
As I arrive at the front of YOUR business premises – which might be offices, or retail or a hot dog stand – the sequence of the flow of observations in play. If I trip over a box of cigarette butts next to a grubby bench, then step into your business over a broken tile or a ratty “We-come” mat – then guess what observations get the HEAVY weighting?
If I then see your wall full of awards for being supremely clever – then I probably conclude that you are just a grub who “got lucky”.
But if your physical welcome zone is like the portal to Disney World, and then I see your awards, or pictures of you with respected figures, or some other “priming” items – then I am in a different place.
And you already realize that my exposure to your business began well before I turned up in your carpark. It applies to your website if that is where I found you. Was it still from 2008 when you had your cousins kid-brother whip up a basic site that has not been touched since? Is your website mobile device friendly – this means it can be read on a phone or ipad thingie – or does it turn to 1 mm high text on an empty screen?
Here is the lesson for this case. “PRIMING”. Every single thing that we see, do or experience “primes” us for something that is next in the sequence. EVERY thing. And the priming either adds or subtracts value to your business presence – there are no “neutrals”.
Here is your action step for this week:
Put on your “I see the bleeding obvious” hat – and approach YOUR business and list everything you see in the order you see them. Then put a + or – next to each item. Does what you see “prime” you to be more positive or more negative toward the next thing that you will see as you enter.
Hopefully that will create a little gap in your obvious blindness – you will start to see what others see. And THEN it can get interesting – because you then have the power to manipulate the sequences that drive other peoples unconscious biases. Cool! Use “halo” power only for good, ok?
But that is content for another post. Be sure to subscribe, and comment below, and if you are not on my Newsletter you are again missing the bleeding obvious. Get the “bleeding obvious hat” out and slap yourself with it until you finish subscribing.
Ps – oh yeah – THREE steps:
1. Look everywhere for the bias effects that our brains give to items we observe EARLY in a sequence. Notice them. Review them – brainstorm with yourself for how you could alter the sequence if you chose.
2. Revisit EVERY item that might be early in the sequence of new people discovering your business. From cleaning your service vehicles inside and out, to the presentation of your team (you see your supervisor at the pub wearing his company uniform that is a mess, and he is swearing badly), to your digital and printed assets, to your processes and procedures (what you say when you answer the phone, and even whether you “dump” the handset when you end a call – this makes a very rude CLUNK in the ear of the other person and DOES affect their observations. Check your “on hold” noises. Check all your advertisements. You get the idea.
3. Take a decent amount of time and add some positive priming events or items to the most comment sequence that your prospects and clients are exposed to. Eg put some testimonials on your “on hold”, make your vehicle drivers become overly friendly in traffic (wave, let them enter the lane), put some positioning items at the entrance to your premises – be manipulative here – they will not notice consciously.
Townsville based James Hooper: The term “rainmaker” is becoming regularly used in business context as someone whose role is to ‘make rain’ or ‘create growth’ in your business. In some senses the term ‘business coach’ is limiting as it is primarily about optimizing the effectiveness of the owner/operator. Sometimes the leverage is in the business systems rather than in the operator – and focus on that produces the preferred outcomes.
Business is a game, a puzzle, a tool to get you what you want in life. Call me for a second opinion (other than yours) on how to make your business give you what you want it to.