Rory Sutherland presented an online talk titled The Objectivity Trap, sponsored by the B2B Institute on July 31, 2020. Rory Sutherland is Vice Chairman of Ogilvy UK.

Notes based on scribbles during the call, possibly inaccurate.

See links at end.

Behavioral science for B2B is underappreciated. You don’t become rational the moment you put on a suit.

If you view the London Underground Map as an accurate representation of London, you’ll ignore many parts of the city. There is opportunity in looking at parts that are not on everyone else’s map.

Marketers get lost looking at averages.

In B2B, the quality of your justification is more important than making a good decision. Blame aversion. 25% of all business activity is ass-covering disguised as rigor.

In medicine, you can be sued for doing nothing. You won’t be sued for referring someone to a specialist. Defensive medicine.

The metrics aren’t decided by you. They’re decided by the customer.  What matters changes by the whim of customers. Can’t rely on economic data. Also can’t rely on what customers tell you. [They may not know what really drives their decisions or they may post-rationalize it.]

What gets mismeasured gets mismanaged.  Creates blind spots.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” —Upton Sinclair quote

Principal limiting factor on growth and speed of adoption are psychological.

Procurement runs the numbers and then ask who they should choose.

Pitch the cost per unit rather than the aggregate.

In his 20s, Rory worked in direct response. When you tested, you would always get results that were unexpected.

There’s a trade-off between exploit and explore. Exploring is not a cost—the payback is just different.

Rory was asked for book recommendations.

Rory Sutherland is author of Alchemy. The US-edition subtitle is The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life. The punchier UK-edition subtitle is The Surprising Power of Ideas that Don’t Make Sense.  See my book review.

A paper titled “The Objectivity Trap: On the biases and misconceptions that cause us all to undervalue B2B marketing” can be downloaded (56-page PDF) from the B2B Institute.








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