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Think Of A Nudge Policy

Political phrase de jour, nudge policies, took up residence in this week’s chattering class tv.  The theory is that (by implication, centre-left) governments have for years wasted their time telling people what to do.  Instead, they’re better nudging people in the required direction.  A recent success along such lines trumpets the smoking ban in pubs and restuarants in England, purporting to save the health service squillions among many benefits.  

Nudge policies are gaining airtime as UK Opposition leader Cameron agrees with how US Presidential candidate Obama wishes to try and reduce the social trauma of absent black fathers.

For definitive explanation, the way ‘nudging’ is being described by various commentators encompasses anywhere between a polite discouragement to continue with a certain behaviour, through to positive incentives to re-inforce the desired path, with the critical detail being that the old-style behaviour is not explicitly outlawed.

Everyone in sales recognises that if you ‘tell’ someone to buy, they probably won’t, yet we all have moments of madness when we regress back to playground tactics to try and get our way.

The reminder of a nudge policy is the antidote.  Take the example in selling of creating urgency.  The single most common such tactic I’ve personally seen in this case is the time conditional discount.  Yet doesn’t that amount to ‘tell’?  How can this be altered towards a ‘nudge’?  You could do it in such a way that the actual cash the incentive offered would cost is the same to you as the discount (and you could argue the opportunity cost is dwarfed), but the prospect would never need to know.  A nudge could be help like earlier delivery, implementation resource available sooner (and at a cheaper rate) or cash flow ease with a credit window, for example.

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