Life can be complicated. So many decisions. Too many choices. Its amazing we can cope. One of the things we do to help us, is to take shortcuts – psychological shortcuts. For instance, when buying a bottle of wine for a dinner party I am more likely to select the more expensive bottle in my range. I am happy to accept, in an area where my knowledge is limited, that there is a price-quality relationship. Whether this is the reality it doesn’t really matter, the fact that it makes me comfortable with my decision is the point.
I was recently in the Barossa Valley with four of my girlfriends, all of whom I have known since I was 6 years old. Straight away we start taking shortcuts with each other. By that I mean we slot straight back into the roles we played when we were at school because that’s exactly what our expectations of each other are.
Our roles are:
- Gemma who is our joker – the story of how she won the trophy on this trip is best left to another blog
- Susan the caregiver – who makes sure we are comfortable, fed and watered and she always jumps in the shower last
- Shane the class monitor – draws the boundaries and makes sure we don’t get into too much trouble
- Nicole the entertainer – takes every opportunity to get up on stage, regardless of whether there’s a stage there or not
- And me the tight rope walker – balancing along the fine line of staying just inside the rules
Not only did we use shortcuts on each other but the Barossa tourist trade used them on us. Susan, our caregiver, had done all the research and worked out the restaurants we should eat at and the vineyards we should visit. On our first night we ordered the maxi taxi to take us to the restaurant she had selected. The trip took about 20 minutes so we talked to the driver and told him about our plans for the next day and the restaurant the next night. He was very helpful and suggested some other places we should visit and reinforced our decision to visit the restaurant we had chosen that night.
The next day we visited the Farmer’s Market and stocked up on heaps of great food (I also had my photo taken with Maggie Beer, thanks to Nicole the entertainer intervening on my behalf) and had a picnic lunch with a few bottles of vino! So we decided to change our plans for dinner and go to a relatively new restaurant called Murdocks. It’s a great Tapas restaurant in a fab new building with large glass windows overlooking the vineyard.
Like the night before, the maxi taxi with the same driver came to pick us up. However we noticed a cooling in his attitude when we told him we had changed our plans and weren’t going to the restaurant we had previously said we would. When we told him where we were going he certainly gave us the feeling we had made a bad choice. Luckily we had stopped off at the restaurant to check it out and make our booking earlier in the day so we were very confident on our choice and refused to be swayed.
After a fantastic dinner, being the last ones left in the restaurant, we spoke to the chef and told him about our taxi driver. It was only then that it dawned on us that we had been taking psychological shortcuts. We had allowed the taxi driver in his position of ‘authority’ ie. his knowledge of the Barossa, to persuade us to visit and purchase at a number of places during our stay. We also started to realize the likely scenario that he was receiving payment for his referrals. We were all a bit miffed actually. We had been quite happy to accept his advice up until the point it became obvious that he wasn’t unbiased.
Well crafted content that uses shortcuts to decision making will persuade customers and prospects to act in a way that can benefit your business. But a note of caution – if you are going to use authority to persuade them, make sure you are unbiased or at least declare your interest upfront. If you don’t, you’re likely to get found out and suffer a backlash.
In the Barossa, we did the only thing we could do – found another maxi taxi driver and asserted our own authority.
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