Instaread Summary of Invisible Influence The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger
Five out of five stars
After reading through this summary I found myself in conflict with the title of the book. For there is nothing new in this book about marketing strategies, these tactics have been entries in the playbook since marketing became an appeal to the masses. The issue I have is that none of the influencers cited in this book are really invisible.
There are ten key takeaways listed and only number ten contained a point that I found new or questionable. Number one is:
“Individual decisions are often influenced by a variety of subtle factors which people can see affecting others’ decisions but fail to see affecting their own.”
This is a point that is often made very early in very early marketing classes, the proverbial 101.
Key takeaway seven is:
“People will abandon pursuits or displayed items that associate them with an undesired identity, and they may choose things that intentionally exclude people with whom they do not want to be associated.”
This statement is right out of Sociology 101, the basic principles of how people self-select the groups they identify with.
Takeaway number ten is:
“The team that is losing early on in a competition is statistically very likely to come back and win as long as victory is close enough to seem achievable.”
As a mathematician/statistician I focused on the “statistically very likely” phrase, because it is vague and open to a wide spectrum of interpretations. My interest was increased when I read the explanation of the takeaway, specifically the sentence:
“Teams with losing scores early in a competition are more likely to win the game in the end, as long as the comeback does not require such an enormous improvement that it appears unattainable.”
I also have a significant interest in sports and this statement seems nonsensical in any sport where the scores are low. For example, the final score in many soccer games is 1-0, so the first team to score wins. Similarly, other low-scoring sports such as baseball and hockey give the first team to score a significant advantage. A statistic in baseball is available that proves my point and is from the Elias Sports Bureau.
“According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the team that scored first in 2009 won 66.4 percent of the games played. Since 2000, it falls into a 64-67 percent win ratio.”
My conclusion is that this statement is largely nonsensical, a marketing person failing in their attempt to use statistical arguments.
This summary does what it is intended to do, it gives the reader enough information about the book so that they can conclude that it really contains nothing new.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.