“Human beings will ALWAYS copy what they perceive to be successful behavior.”

corporate culture

[Buy the print.]

This cartoon went out this morning in the Daily Cartoon. I originally drew it to celebrate the latest book of one of my favorite business thinkers, my friend, Mark Earls.

I can safely say that Mark is one of the VERY few marketing writers that really changed my life, back in the day. His first book, “Welcome to The Creative Age” deeply infomed The Hughtrain.

Mark was one of the top advertising planners in the UK, back in the 1990s when the British still had the best advertising in the world (thanks in no small part to the advertising planner system that they pretty much invented).

Mark has spent the last decade telling people all about Herd behavior, i.e. we’re primates, ergo like the apes, we’re hyper-social creatures, ergo most of our behavior is heavily group-foucused, in spite of our rugged-indvidualist pretentions.

In a nutshell, this means if you want me, a group-orinetated primate to buy your product, the best way to do that is not to sell to me, but to sell to my fellow-primate friends first.

i.e. Ideas, products and brands all spread through societies via copying other fellow-primates, not by being rationally sold to one primate at a time, again and again.

It also explains the FOMO phenomeon (“Fear Of Missing Out”), which makes us do everything from buying fancy houses and ctars we can’t afford, moving to jobs and cities that don’t suit us, and taking nonstop selfies of us leading “incredible” lives.

No, we’re not sheep; we’re primates. Yes, we are trying to keep up with the Jones’, wheter we like it or not. Human beings will ALWAYS copy what they perceive to be successful behavior. And when we can’t do so for whatever reason, it causes us great social anxiety.

And that, my friends, is how marketing (and corporate culture change) really works. So now you know.

[Bonus link: “Ten Questions For Mark Earls”: An interview I did with Mark Earls back in 2008, where he explains his ideas much better than I ever could.]


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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

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  • Seth Godin
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