Shirin Oreizy | Supercharging Your Marketing with Behavioral Science

Shirin Oreizy 10:15

Yeah, absolutely. So we tend to use our expertise, and behavioral science is very much focused on helping clients with their marketing growth. So that’s kind of our sweet spot. So an example of it would be one of our clients, really, they’re actually based in the San Francisco Bay Area. And there’s a startup and they basically are trying to displace traditional realtors. So in a traditional realtor model, they come in and charge you 3% to, you know, buy or sell your home. With Lee, really, they bring in a lot of technology and automation, etc. And as a result, people can help save you about 2% on that transaction. So they charge like one one and a half percent. And the challenge that they came to us with was, how do we frame this benefit? These savings basically motivate more people to want to, you know, adopt this new technology solution, because it’s something that’s unfamiliar, people are much more familiar with a traditional wheelchair. And so, when we looked at it, and especially in the context of the Bay Area, that I know, you’re familiar with home prices are insane. And so that 2% cost saving, can be as much as $20,000, on an average home. And once we know that as humans, because we actually don’t deal with $20,000 transactions every day, it’s really hard for us to kind of conceptualize it. So the traditional economic way of framing the benefit would be to tell people you say, $1,000, you’re done. And I had our worldview like, no, that’s not gonna work. So we used a behavioral science concept, which is called framing. And the idea of framing is that people’s preferences change based on how you frame a solution. So a simple example of that is, if you walk into the grocery store, you see two pints of frozen yogurt, one says 20% fat, and the other says 80%, fat free, you’re gonna grab 80% fat free to the economist that makes no sense, those two things are exactly the same. That just showcases how I can in marketing frame something differently to change your preference. So we use that concept. And we knew that we had to change this frame of that $20,000 saving. And so what we ended up doing is we iterated a bit, and we thought, Okay, how do we make this feel like a hypnotic reframe, like something that you can get a benefit from right now? Can you tell people, hey, you can manage to go on a big fancy vacation? Or can we tell people, you can actually use something that’s more relevant to the home, which is like remodel your kitchen. And once we did that, we saw this nice big lift in terms of the conversion metrics and costs for downloads, like radically reduced, they were getting a lot more quality leads when they framed it to, hey, you can remodel your kitchen, and then we were like, Okay, so this concept is working. Let’s keep iterating on it. And then our next pass was, if you use it really, you can pay off your mortgage three years earlier. And that was, you know, even better as a frame. So that’s an example of using this insight of framing to rethink how you’re positioning your company or benefit to get more people to want to use it.

John Corcoran 13:47

Yeah. Now I know, research is important in the work that you do. Do you do research as a company? And if you do, how do you work that into the business model? What do you do? I know, you said you work with startups and smaller companies? How does research plan?

Shirin Oreizy 14:05

Yeah, great question. So think of it this way, behavioral science gives us this kind of library of like 300 different principles about how people make decisions. But we need to figure out which one’s going to be applicable for your situation. And so we’ve actually developed a proprietary research methodology we call the science of design, and it has a couple core components to it. But the idea is, first come in and do just a little science assessment of how it is that you’re currently communicating to your audience? So we look at your website, your landing pages, if you’re a b2b company, your sales presentations and you know if you have social ads, etc. and largely what we’re trying to do here is understand where the gaps from what we know about how people make decisions and what you have, and that gives us a bunch of best practices and things to do. And then typically, based on the challenge that we’re trying to solve, we then add on a layer of what we call qualitative research, which is basically go out there and talk to people. And so we interview people. And we use a lot of behavioral science to kind of D bias those conversations. So we’re not, you know, getting confirmation bias, you know, giving you something you think you want to hear. And largely, what we’re trying to understand there is like, okay, what’s the context of decision making? How are people talking about their pain points and challenges. And once we have that insight, we then can come up with different hypotheses. So from that library of 300 principles, we come back and say, like, Okay, look at how you communicate, we’ve talked to, you know, a bunch of your users and clients, here are three or four principles that we think might be at play for how to better motivate your audience. And so we then take it into quantitative research, which is seeing if that concept works at scale. So imagine if you’re a b2b company, we go find your target audience on LinkedIn, and we serve them up different ads with these different behavioral science principles. If you’re a b2c, we might serve up ads on social media, or email, etc. And then we’re measuring, you know, which principle is working better. And the idea here is that now it’s a scale, it’s, you know, 1000s of people. And so you have a base statistically significant result. And we can feel very confident. So that really example that I mentioned, it was run on social, and you know, 1000s of people. So we feel very confident that like, hey, this finding is true. And you can leverage it, and so forth. And then once we have that finding, what makes us a little bit unique is because we were born out of that digital design agency, we have a whole creative team. So we then take that insight, and then infuse it into designing your website, your landing pages, your signup, flow, etc. So we really kind of take that full lifecycle of making sure we take insights around how people are making decisions, and then make sure that you know, is put into your creative and how you’re talking to your audience.

John Corcoran 17:19

Now, I want to ask about from a business perspective, what it was like for you to pivot and change the focus of the business from a digital design agency to you fall in love with this behavioral science as an idea, but then you have to apply it to your own business, and figure out how you can sell it and probably you’re selling something kind of novel and new and different. So what was it like, especially in the early days of making those changes to the business?

Shirin Oreizy 17:47

Yeah, it was pretty tough. It took some time. So I think, in the very early days, we didn’t have the full research methodology, we basically were saying, hey, right, now you’re doing your digital design, and just add on your hiring folks, and they’re kind of doing whatever, you know, they think is best. And we’ll bring in some video science best practices. So you know, we’ll design your say website or whatnot, using the best practices. And then over time, we evolved to see, okay, we can have a more robust methodology where we can bring in these research components of qual and quantitative research. And, and then our next kind of iteration on it was, let’s focus on a customer segment that we think we can be more successful with. So instead of like this broad array of types of companies that we can help with, what are the characters, six companies where we can, you know, deliver these insights, you know, very effectively. And so, we noticed this trend with our startup clients, because they’re typically under the gun, to deliver metrics and growth metrics, and data driven and show to their board, why they need their next round of funding. And they typically, in the earlier stages, when they’re kind of series, a C, might not have a lot of this, you know, either research framework in place, or staff in place, etc. So we started noticing that there’s a lot more value that these clients are getting from this work. And that’s, you know, where we’ve been focused. So we primarily do a lot of work with startups and that kind of series, A to C range. We do a lot of work with FinTech clients, with b2b tech clients, and a couple of different other industries as well.

John Corcoran 19:48

So, in getting back to the question I asked earlier about, where do you draw the line between whether this is work we want to support or not, can you think of a time when you had a client come to you where you know, you’re like, we can’t do this.

Shirin Oreizy 20:04

Okay. I’m trying to think, okay, I’m not gonna name the company.

John Corcoran 20:11

No, no, no, that’s fine. But I’m more curious about what they did. What caused you to draw the line?

Shirin Oreizy 20:17

Yeah. So they, one of these companies, approached a pretty bigger, well known company, but they did vaping products, and they were trying to get a younger demographic of, you know, people in their teens and early 20s, to adopt vaping. And we were just concerned about the health aspect of that. Yeah. So we just, you know, it wasn’t never interesting, or we’ve been approached with, you know, companies that like, have food products that are not necessarily healthy for people to consume too much. So, something like that is, you know, yeah, and generally speaking, those scenarios, we just were pretty honest, were like, Hey, we just believe that we want to, you know, this work for industries that we have an alignment as far as mission. And I should add that we also have a social impact side to what we do, which is a fun part. So we do a lot of inkind work and things for mission driven companies and organizations that are trying to end homelessness, or land conservation, and things of that nature, ending sex trafficking, and so forth. So this is the side of our business where we, you know, try to support social impact organization. 

John Corcoran 21:50

Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Well, I’m gonna have to ask you about that afterwards, because we’ve been doing something similar as well. Yeah, yeah. Trying to try to build the same thing. Well, what about, you know, there’s been in Silicon Valley, there’s been increased awareness, there’s been movies like the the social dilemma that come out that talk increasingly about, you know, kind of digital addiction and these platforms that are trying to get our eyeballs. So it’s kind of crazy, in the sense a gray area or kind of increased awareness to the the negative or the side effects that can come from these increasingly online world that we live in. any of that, Has that ever come into any of the work that you do? Or is that ever been a concern? Or have there ever been, you know, kind of more gray area type of scenarios where someone approached you? And you’d be like, Hey, we just don’t feel comfortable doing this type of work?

Shirin Oreizy 22:44

Not so I mean, there’s definitely been times where we’ve been approached by industries that are clearly not our segment. We rarely work with those types of companies. But I actually, I do know, have friends in the space that have worked and done research projects around helping stop misinformation, like TikTok, et cetera. And they’ve been behavioral science teams that have, you know, we can’t stop TikTok, but let’s help stop, you know, missing misinformation, if you haven’t personally done any projects at our agency and those rounds, but I’m aware of

John Corcoran 23:25

Let’s talk about the culture inside your company, because I know you’ve also incorporated behavioral science and positive psychology work into building your team culture to talk a little bit about that.

Shirin Oreizy 23:35

Yeah, so the culture is, is something that’s very near and dear to my heart. I think it was largely because I personally, when I was in tech, didn’t feel like working at a very large company didn’t, there were elements of the culture that I thought were missing. So based on the coursework that I’ve done on positive psychology, which is largely understanding, you know, how do you take people that are largely fine and happy and make them happier and more satisfied with their life and their career, etc? And then also what we know from behavioral science around? How do you get people to adopt better behaviors and so forth around, you know, their financial well being around their health, etc. So we, you know, designed several different components to our culture to really help our team, I’d say, hopefully manifest the best version of ourselves, both personally, what’s important to them in terms of their life, and also professionally and so we use a lot of accountability systems. So typically at the start of each year, we do vision boarding exercises. People start manifesting what they want to create for the year in terms of, you know, what’s important to them. And we also do like a dream assignment where we have people really think about where they want to be in their career. We’re three to five years from now out, and then how can we support them in, you know, achieving that dream state. And we finally bring in tons of pure accountability. Because if there’s one thing we know from behavioral science is that it’s one thing to think of something, it’s a whole different thing to actually do that behavior. And so we have slack boards, where people share photos of what they’re doing, and their exercise habits. We meet quarterly monthly to go through our vision boards, etc. When COVID hit, we were obviously, you know, they worried for the financial well being of our team. And so we did a whole quarter where we helped everybody by learning more about their just understanding their finances and how they can, you know, go to their different stages of financial wellbeing, starting from you know, getting out of debt to RBC, Bing. And so we try to do our best to manifest some of the stuff in our culture, too.

John Corcoran 26:10

That’s cool. We’re running a little short on time. But I do want to ask you. I know, you know, we met through Entrepreneurs’ Organization you’ve participated in, in different entrepreneurial groups? I’m not familiar with the Conscious Leadership Group. Yep. Which is one you participate in now. What is that? And what role has it played in your business?

Shirin Oreizy 26:31

Yeah, absolutely. So I joined the Conscious Leadership Group (CLG), about two years ago. And I have to say, It’s been one of the best decisions, like I say, top five to 10 best decisions of my life, and not just as an entrepreneur, but overall and large. The concept of CLG, or Conscious Leadership Group, is how can you live a much more conscious life, right, by learning about, you know, what’s causing situations that do not work in your favor? And what are some of the, you know, different commitments? So we have, like 15 commitments, that are really trying to help us assess how we, as leaders, show up in our businesses, how do we show up in terms of grappling with our, you know, teams, or executive teams, our clients, etc, and really trying to understand the story that we bring ourselves and how that’s serving or not serving us. So it’s been a phenomenal group, and it’s really helped me uncover a lot of my own personal patterns of how I don’t always manifest the best things, and how I can kind of rethink that. So I say, I think it’d be great for folks to check it out. It’s called the Conscious Leadership Group. I know that they’re setting up forums coming up for the fall, I believe, and they’re based just literally nationwide. 

John Corcoran 28:16

Excellent, excellent. All right. Last question. I’m a big fan of gratitude. So if you look around at your peers and your contemporaries, others in your industry, or other peers and contemporaries that, in other behavioral science groups, you know, and other companies, who do you respect or admire?

Shirin Oreizy 28:34

And so I probably have to choose Dan Ariely is a really well known behavioral scientist and New York Times bestselling author and obviously a professor. And what I like about him is that he literally has behavioral science to bring behavioral science into the world, and make it much more accessible and less academic, and much more easy for just regular laymen to understand the concepts. And he also has a bunch of different labs, that they’re really helping figure out how to apply this stuff to help people live a bit better, healthier lives, more financially, help support the financial well being of people and so forth. So I think I’d probably go with that.

John Corcoran 29:21

Yeah, Predictably Irrational, I think is one of his books. He teaches at Duke, correct? Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Excellent. Excellent selection. All right, Shirin, it’s such a pleasure having you. Where can people go to learn more about you, connect with you, ask you additional questions as they have them?

Shirin Oreizy 29:36

Absolutely. So I got two places. One is our website, which is So You can learn more about our work and we have tons of free resources. We just launched our Science of Design webinar series, so you can find that there. And then obviously, LinkedIn, just feel free to find my name and let me know that you’ve heard about me at Rise25 and I’d love to connect with you.

John Corcoran 30:03

Awesome friend. Thanks so much, Shirin. Thank you.

Outro 30:05

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