157 episodes

Consumers are weird. They don't do what they say they will do and don't act how we think they "should." Enter Melina Palmer, a sales conversion expert with a personal mission to make your business more effective and brain friendly. In this podcast, Melina will take the complex concepts of behavioral economics (the study and science of why people buy - or not) and provide simple, actionable tips you can apply right away in your business. Whether you're a small business or thriving corporation, Melina's tips can help your business increase sales and get more customers.

The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics Melina Palmer

    • Business
    • 4.7 • 125 Ratings

Consumers are weird. They don't do what they say they will do and don't act how we think they "should." Enter Melina Palmer, a sales conversion expert with a personal mission to make your business more effective and brain friendly. In this podcast, Melina will take the complex concepts of behavioral economics (the study and science of why people buy - or not) and provide simple, actionable tips you can apply right away in your business. Whether you're a small business or thriving corporation, Melina's tips can help your business increase sales and get more customers.

    Dr. Robert Cialdini and the (Now!) 7 Principles of Persuasion

    Dr. Robert Cialdini and the (Now!) 7 Principles of Persuasion

    Today I am beyond excited to have Bob Cialdini here to talk about the newly expanded version of his book Influence. There are 220 additional pages and a 7th principle of persuasion that has been added, which he explains in the conversation. 
    If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while or have a background in behavioral economics, behavioral science, or psychology, you have likely heard the name “Cialdini.” His work paved the way for so many careers and I’m pleased to report that he is just an incredibly nice person who is a delight to talk to. 
    During our conversation, you will notice that I ask questions from listeners just like you – how exciting is that? These questions were posed from within my free global community of behavioral economics and behavioral science enthusiasts, the BE Thoughtful Revolution, which you can join today, and maybe you’ll hear a future guest answer one of your questions during the show! 
    Show Notes: [00:08] In today’s episode I am so excited to be speaking with Dr. Robert Cialdini about the newly expanded version of his globally acclaimed book, Influence. [01:17] Cialdini’s work paved the way for so many careers [03:07] Bob shares more about who he is and what he does. He is a behavioral scientist with an emphasis on persuasion and social influence.  [05:52] He found a small footprint of principles that seemed to be employed in all the professions he studies and he decided to write a book on the topic.  [08:18] Bob shares the first six principles that he talks about in the book. The first is reciprocity—that people will give back to people that have given to them first.  [09:27] The second principle is liking—we like to say yes to those we know and like. We can identify genuine similarities that exist between us and then raise them to consciousness. We can also give genuine compliments.  [10:22] The third principle is social proof. When people are uncertain they don’t look inside themselves for answers so they look outside. One key place they look is to their peers.  [12:55] The fourth principle is authority.  Besides looking at peers the other principal source they look to for information is the voices of experts or authorities of the topic.  [13:41] The fifth principle is commitment and consistency. We all have a preference to be consistent with what we have already said and done especially in public.  [15:00] The sixth principle is scarcity. We want more of those things we have less of. We find those things that are scarce, rare, and dwindling in availability more attractive.  [15:47] After writing the first six principles, he started to recognize that there was one principle he had missed. The seventh principle is unity.  [18:55] Bob shares his story and lesson about the Cuban Missile Crisis.  [20:37] It turned out that Kennedy had an act of reciprocation in place and had not drawn a hard line as many thought.   [21:54] It was a reciprocal concession that helped end the Cuban Missile Crisis.  [23:48] It turns out if you look at loyalty and advocacy of your product and service it is not a problem-free experience they are looking for. Instead, it is a problem freed experience. Bob shares a problem that was resolved in favor of the customer.   [25:04] There are going to be mistakes and bobbles. If those people can then resolve the problems quickly that is what is perceived as a special kind of gift to the customer who then feels obligated to give something special in return.  [26:08] When there are mistakes, there should be budgets available to allow you to fix that mistake.  [28:07] If there is a problem, it is an opportunity to have this reciprocity benefit.  [29:13] Melina asks a listener question from Adnan: “How do your strategies of influence adapt to a digital world, for example, social media?” [31:05] The platforms and delivery s

    • 49 min
    From Marketing Mess to Brand Success, with Scott Miller

    From Marketing Mess to Brand Success, with Scott Miller

    Today I am so excited to have Scott Miller back on the podcast to talk about marketing and branding, some of my favorite things! I really love the way Scott puts his books together, broken into 30 chapters with great, brain-friendly tips that you can begin implementing one day at a time. Essentially, the thought is that you can take a month and learn one lesson each day to uplevel in that particular area. 
    As you’ll hear more in the conversation, this is the second book in a planned series of 10; the first of which Scott discussed Management Mess to Leadership Success last time he was on the show. Today is about going from Marketing Mess to Brand Success, plus a funny story about a popular product that was originally called the “I-Suck” – can you guess what it is? Hear the answer and learn more about Scott and his work in the show. 
    Show Notes: [00:06] In today’s episode, I’m delighted to bring back Scott Miller of Franklin Covey. [01:17] Today is about going from a marketing mess to brand success.  [04:15] Scott shares more about who he is and what he does. He is a 25 year associate of the Franklin Covey Company.  [05:00] Today, we focus on Marketing Mess to Brand Success – the second of a ten-book series.  [05:56] If you have something to say, write a book. Your book has not been written until you have written your book.  [07:44] Scott’s books are very practical and they all follow the same format with 30 challenges. The chapters are very intentionally breezy and short.  [09:14] There is enormous power in teaching through your messes.  [10:38] Scott shares his favorite marketing messes from the book.  [12:51] A lesson he learned is that you can’t control all the outcomes of a marketing campaign. He shares some of the lessons he has learned in his book.  [14:49] Melina shares her own funny story from a marketing campaign she was part of.  [17:25] It’s The Customer, Stupid is the first challenge in his book. As a marketer, you have to be the voice of the customer.  [18:55] The best salesperson isn’t the person who has committed their third-quarter goal to memory, they’ve committed their client’s third-quarter goal to memory.  [20:07] We tend to market the way we like to be marketed to. Don’t always do what you like and know best. It may not always be the right vehicle.  [22:34] Marketers need to be close to the cash.  [23:27] A marketer’s number one job is to generate revenue-paying clients.  [26:38] There is a massive difference between facts and your feelings, emotions, and opinions.  [27:48] As marketers have you done your research? Do you know what circumstance your client is in or are you guessing? [29:38] What you say are the facts might just be your own biases creeping in because you are so passionate about your idea.  [30:22] 93% of organizations achieve success with an emergent strategy, not their deliberate strategy. They often have to pivot and search for new opportunities.  [32:02] It is important to speak your customers’ language.  [33:15] The biggest messaging mistake people make is that they tell their story. They don’t tell a story that their client can find themselves in.  [36:01] Never forget you have two buyers. You have an internal and external buyer.  [37:58] Marketing is very reactive. Branding is this touchstone and is proactive.  [39:35] You have to build a brand and earn a brand with some of the outcomes of your marketing efforts. You need to have a strong marketing strategy that helps you build revenue and a brand.  [40:07] Your brand is a result of this: did you make and keep a promise? Brands are hard to build.  [41:19] Scott shares his story about a brand being a memory with Ralph Lauren. [44:51] Melina shares her closing thoughts.  [45:47] Melina’s first book, What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You is officially available on

    • 47 min
    What is Behavioral Baking?

    What is Behavioral Baking?

    Today I am excited to share a favorite analogy I came up with while writing my book, What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You. It has also been awesome to see how well this is resonating with readers, at speaking engagements, and in the interviews I’ve done so far. It is one of those great comparisons that people just get. Which I love! 
    I know a lot of people have been asking questions like “How do I start applying behavioral economics in my business?” or “What is the best approach?” or “Where do I start?” 
    This idea of behavioral baking is my answer. Because it has resonated so well, I felt it needed its own dedicated episode, so here we are. 
    Show Notes: [00:06] Today’s episode is all about behavioral baking. [02:21] Once you have an understanding of some key concepts in behavioral economics, it is time to start combining them for application. [03:18] Understanding the ingredients is important as you get started. A very basic knowledge can get you ready for some easy recipes. You will probably start out with something simple like a boxed mix as you establish a comfort zone. [04:56] Each new step presents another opportunity to learn, but you will grow as you rise to each challenge.  [05:19] Lesson: even when you are trying to copy something, it is harder than it looks and will take a little practice to master that new technique. [05:52] The ingredients you learn about individually at first are the concepts. They are your butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. [07:28] You don’t need every single ingredient every single time, and you don’t need to be too heavy-handed with any ingredient. What you DO need to know before you jump in is…what are you making!? [08:04] This is the part where most businesses go wrong, not spending enough time really understanding the problem before jumping into solution mode. [10:23] An example where I used this in my corporate work. [11:53] Choices are relative and heavily context-dependent. [12:25] Working with the brain will make it easier to understand and solve problems in your business. But if you don’t take the time up front to understand what you are trying to accomplish, you will still be throwing noodles at the wall. [13:49] With the consequences so distant, it is easy to ignore and not change behavior. And still, your logical brain’s approach would likely be to go with logical arguments for why this matters. [15:50] Your brain is programmed to wonder what could be (optimism bias) and fear for what might happen if you choose to leave it there and it was a winner (loss aversion). [17:12] Change doesn’t have to be hard. Changing the natural rules of the subconscious brain that have been developing for generations is hard. Understanding them and working with those habits can make seemingly insurmountable changes become easy. [18:38] The result is often more important than the path to get there. [19:56] Understanding the result you want to help your customer, member, or client experience is so important. [20:29] Remember that your brain will want to educate and feel like throwing in some extra logic “couldn’t hurt,” but it absolutely can.  [22:02] Trying to force education can actually backfire and cause people to make worse decisions in multiple areas of life. Once their brain is calmer they may have the bandwidth to learn more and build on the foundation.  [24:03] Behavioral baking is a way of thinking that can help you use behavioral economics to get to that outcome. [26:25] I’ve been a big baker my whole life. Listeners have suggested it might be fun to have me share recipes from The Brainy Business and what I’m baking (to keep the behavioral baking concept going)...what do you think? Good idea or weird? Let me know using the links below. [27:21] The result is often more important than the path to get there. [30:19] Melina’s first book, What

    • 31 min
    Failure is an Opportunity not Ending, with Madeline Quinlan

    Failure is an Opportunity not Ending, with Madeline Quinlan

    Today I am honored to be joined by Madeline (Maddie) Quinlan, co-founder of Salient. Just like last week’s guest, Nuala Walsh, you’ve heard Maddie’s voice when she was part of the contingent who came on to discuss the Global Association of Applied Behavioral Scientists, or GAABS, when it first launched in the fall of 2020. 
    In addition to being head of membership and a co-founder of GAABS, in her role as a director of Salient, Maddie works as a behavioral scientist and has expertise spanning private, public, and not-for-profit organizations. She focuses primarily on the areas of finance, energy, and risk management. I also love that her bio states that she believes in “relentless betterment and radical authenticity” – great word choice!
    Show Notes: [00:06] In today’s episode, I’m very delighted to introduce you to Maddie Quinlan, co-founder of Salient. [01:01] In addition to being head of membership and a co-founder of GAABS, in her role as a director of Salient, Maddie works as a behavioral scientist and has expertise spanning private, public, and not-for-profit organizations. [03:11] Maddie shares more about who she is and what she does. She has been working exclusively as a behavioral scientist for the last three years and prior to that, she worked a lot in finance.  [04:26] She shares more about her leap from finance to behavioral science.  [06:07] She ended up leaving her job in finance to go from Canada to England to obtain her master’s degree in behavioral science from the London School of Economics.  [06:46] Melina shares her (very similar!) story about the moment she knew her destiny was in behavioral economics.  [08:52] Maddie met her business partner through the program in London and they started Salient in the middle of doing their dissertations.  [11:38] If you are really pursuing something that rings true to you or something that you are incredibly passionate about...something that really embodies who you are...it becomes so much more. When you live and work that way, you end up attracting others with the same perspective and interests. Then, you can all work together to elevate that common passion over time. You find your tribe.  [12:24] Any individual behavioral scientist can still move things, but if we all band together then that is where really fundamental and impactful change can happen.  [13:59] Salient was created to bridge the gap from the academic side and practical application side and be able to take them to different sectors.  [15:32] In the world of behavioral science and behavior change, we know that some things work and we know that a lot of things don’t. [16:59] She shares one of her favorite projects in the pension space.  [17:33] If you want somebody to do something you must make it easy.  [18:57] What people think and say they want is very different from how they actually behave and show up.  [21:12] Context definitely matters when deciding if you start with questions or just jump into testing. In an ideal world you can do some qualitative testing to inform your more large and widespread quantitative work.  [22:12] They suggest piloting a lot. It is beneficial for clients, project owners, and behavioral scientists.  [25:10] Just because something didn’t happen the way you wanted it to, doesn’t mean that it is bad. It can be a good opportunity to dig in a little bit further.  [25:27] The biggest mistake businesses make when they go to apply behavioral science or behavioral economics is they start working on the wrong problem and jump straight into “solving” mode.  [27:10] The insights on what doesn’t work are just as valuable as what does.  [28:39] In her dissertation study, they found that the meditation group had a measurably higher rate of temporal (time) discounting than the control and the jazz condition. People were actually more likely t

    • 48 min
    Only 1% of People Blow the Whistle at Work—How to Fix That, with Nuala Walsh

    Only 1% of People Blow the Whistle at Work—How to Fix That, with Nuala Walsh

    You have heard her voice before as she was part of the contingent that came on to discuss The Global Association of Applied Behavioural Scientists or GAABS when it first launched in the fall of 2020. In addition to her work to get that started, she is the founder of a consultancy called MindEquity, which specializes in reputation communications, conduct, culture, and behaviour change.

    • 41 min
    A Surprise Guest...

    A Surprise Guest...

    Today there is a very special interview taking place on the show, in that the person being interviewed is…me! And, no, it isn’t me asking myself questions. I guess that is kind of like every solo episode I’ve done or much weirder where I would speak about myself in the third person. 
    The interviewer today is Michael Bartlett. He is the Director of Experience Innovation at JMARK and also trains people to pass the Certified Customer Experience Exam (CCXP). We got connected because he is hooked on books. As an avid book junkie, he reviews many of them on his YouTube channel, called the "CCXP Exam Simulator."
    As he was prepping to do a review of my new book, What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You, for his YouTube channel, he asked if I had considered having someone turn the tables a bit to interview me here on The Brainy Business. I said why not! As I’ve always found it much easier to answer questions about myself and an experience, than to just talk about it. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!
    I hope you love everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or other compensation. Show Notes: [00:38] Today there is a very special interview taking place on the show, in that the person being interviewed is…me! [01:03] The interviewer is Michael Bartlett. He is the Director of Experience Innovation at JMARK and also trains people to pass the Certified Customer Experience Exam (CCXP). [04:24] If you want to understand customers you have to understand how their minds work.  [04:52] Melina shares her journey and interest in behavioral economics.  [07:28] Fun fact: She is a classically trained opera singer and enjoys singing – this led to a big realization about a tendency toward perfectionism in life and business.  [09:58] It can really be one piece that is throwing everything else off just a little bit.  [11:47] Our brains will limit us and feel like you pushed too far. Your body can keep going but your mind feels like you should stop.  [12:34] How our brain can hold us back psychologically in sports also translates into business.  [12:46] Michael shares about his journey.  [14:13] Melina shares how and why The Brainy Business came about. She was writing blogs for entrepreneurs and editing books as a side hustle.  [16:32] When they moved, she had a unique opportunity to really just focus on school for her master’s degree and building a new type of business around behavioral economics.  [19:04] On May 19, 2018, after encouragement from a mastermind, Melina started to rebrand her company and launched the podcast with its first three episodes on July 6, 2018.  [20:13] Melina always knew she would have a book.  [21:53] She ended up finalizing her publisher in late May 2020 and the full manuscript was due at the end of August – a summer of writing!  [23:30] When reading the book, you can focus on the areas that really interest you or learn more about a particular subject. She also includes corresponding podcast episodes.  [25:03] She had an idea of some topics that needed to be in the book. She created it similar to a “choose your own adventure” book in the way that you can follow the parts that interest you most. Interconnectivity is so critical to how the brain works and that was important to reflect in the book’s format.  [26:06] She gives her readers the opportunity to make connections to jump around in a controlled environment. She is creating a course that will be available to purchase and go along with the book and go even deeper.  [28:24] At the end of the book, Melina gives a really good example

    • 45 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
125 Ratings

125 Ratings

malfoxley ,

Great show!

Melina, host of the Brainy Business podcast, highlights all aspects of behavioral economics and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!

3 buoys ,

Outstanding Resource

Thank you Melinda for this great resource! I am a cognitive life coach (so work w the brain) and love love love how you dig into business in a way that resonates with me. We met at biz chix in Nov 2019 and chatted podcasts. Thank you for mentioning yours as it’s become one of my weekly go-tos! Susie Pettit

RainOrganica ,

Behavioral Economics in depth

Marketplace Money's interviews with the Freakonomics team has nothing on The Brainy Business podcast. Melina takes the time to thoroughly research topics and draws in interesting data beyond just the behavioral side of things. She takes the time to examine how we're made, literally, and how that impacts our psychology and buying choices.

The Brainy Business isn't just for entrepreneurs. With so many episodes regarding making and breaking habits and how we each are influenced as consumers, this is necessary listening for all humans.

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