OPINION6 September 2017

A different order

x Sponsored content on Research Live and in Impact magazine is editorially independent.
Find out more about advertising and sponsorship.

Behavioural economics Impact Opinion UK

Measurement is often seen as an obligation rather than an opportunity but with a few important changes it can be used to inform decisions in advance, rather than defend them in retrospect, says Rory Sutherland.

Balance_crop

While I was growing up, my father ran a series of small businesses. No-one in my family had ever worked in a large organisation – they were mostly farmers, rural GPs or suchlike. So, during my first few years at Ogilvy, I assumed big businesses operated much like small ones, only on a larger scale. This, I quickly learned, is far from the case.

In my first month as a trainee, I spent two weeks in the creative department of what was then called Ogilvy & Mather Direct. One of my tasks, working under an experienced American copywriter, was to write a solicitation letter, cross-selling a fairly obscure financial product. Call it beginner’s luck, but the letter was quite a success; the response rate was twice that of the control and the ROI was 5:1 in the first six months alone (it was a fairly profitable product).

“Wow, ” I said. “Let’s mail some more people ...