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27 Ways Creative Agencies Can Use Behavioral Science

minute read

I recently asked US and UK-based advertising professionals if/how they use Behavioral Science in their businesses. And the vast majority (53%) said “we see the potential but aren’t sure how to action it.”

To help creative agencies get started applying Behavioral Science, I put together these 27 thought-starter questions ( that don't ask you to change your normal process or timelines).

🧠 Client Brief:
✅ Have we defined the behavioral outcome we need this work to drive?
✅ Do we understand the context of this customer challenge?
✅ What psychological barriers or cognitive biases might be causing customers to act the way they’re acting?

🧠 Strategy:
✅ Have we discovered and defined the behaviors we need to change and how?
✅ Have we considered the context of this behavior challenge? (Try observational research if you don’t have much information.)
✅ What Behavioral Science principles could inform strategic ways in?

🧠 Creative Development:
✅ Once our concept is nailed, how can we flex it grab attention in the real world? Is our creative approach salient and easy to spot?
✅ Is this creative helping to build memories of our distinctive brand assets? Are our most emotional moments tied directly to the brand?
✅ How are we subtly guiding choice in the story we’re telling and way we present creative options?

🧠 Client Approvals:
✅ Have we been thoughtful about how we’re presenting creative choices to the client?
✅ How concretely are we presenting the work? Is it really clear how the creative will flex based on placement and context? Or are we asking clients to “think too much?”
✅ How are we subtly guiding choice in the story we’re telling and way we present creative options?

🧠 Testing:
✅ Are we prepared to test multiple approaches with our customer and context?
✅ Are we testing in a way that allows us to observe behaviors instead of asking customers what they want?
✅ Have we baked in enough time to test multiple creative executions to see how customers will react?

🧠 Post-Mortem
✅ What won and why? What principles made this approach successful and why? Has this approach succeeded enough times to become a guiding principle?
✅ What lost and why? What can we potentially avoid next time? Has this approach failed enough times in practice that it can become a principle of what to avoid?
✅ Did we define the customer’s challenge and their context correctly? What can we learn for the next campaign?

If you’re interested in the potential benefits of applied Behavioural Science, these questions are a good starting point. But there are many more places where Behavioral Science can add value without disrupting your normal briefing, creative development, and pitching process.

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