Speaker Spotlight: Applying Behaviour Science to Marketing With Phill Agnew

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This month saw the return of Marketing Talk, a community for marketers of all levels who want to hone their skills, up their knowledge, and meet other like minded professionals.

To kick-off its relaunch, we were delighted to hear from Phill Agnew (Senior Product Marketer at Hotjar) on how to apply consumer psychology and behavioural science at a strategic and tactical level with your product marketing.

He shared how one line of text can dramatically change a product marketing campaign, the reasons why several product launches fail, and why he told 10,000 people his podcast was crap. (In case you missed it, you can watch his talk here.)

We caught up with Phill to learn more…


Phill Agnew

Phill Agnew

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the work you do?

đź‘‹ Hey! I’m Phill. I’m a marketer who spent years frustrated about how difficult it was to get consistent results in marketing. All too often my work would fall flat, my emails would be left unopened, my blog posts unread. After speaking to fellow marketers, I noticed how many of us have this problem. We’re constantly testing tactics but consistent results never seem possible.

Then I discovered behavioural science. It’s the study of how and why people make decisions. It has its base in psychology and economics but the principles from behavioural science apply brilliantly to marketing. It helps me (and other marketers) learn why people make decisions and how to influence them.

Inspired by this discipline, I now host Nudge, the UK’s biggest behavioural science podcast with over 200,000 downloads. Every other week, I interview authors, experts and pioneers in behavioural science and look at how to apply those principles to marketing. If you’re keen to learn the science behind great marketing then this show is for you.

For my day job, I work as a senior product marketer helping SaaS brands grow.

How about a moment that helped define your career?

My first job was as a community manager. I had to manage my company’s social media accounts and contribute to the blog. After about 8 months on the job, I had this realisation. I was trying to write a blog header, but no good ideas were coming to mind. I realised, up until now I was guessing what could work. Sure I had data telling me what blogs had previously performed well. And yes, I knew lists and “10 things X” style blogs do great. But I didn’t know why people were drawn to those blogs. I didn’t know why people did anything.

It was at that point that I realised I hadn’t come close to mastering marketing. Up until then, I was simply guessing what worked. And since then I made a promise to study the science behind marketing and apply that to every decision. That drove me to study behavioural science, start the Nudge podcast, and ultimately become a better marketer.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

You have more time than you think.

What was the inspiration for your recent talk?

I had been reading about something called the pratfall effect. It’s this study that showed job candidates would be more likely to get a job if they highlighted a weakness.

It got me thinking, I wonder if brands would be more successful if they flaunted their flaws.

So, I ran a test. I spent $200 on Reddit ads. One ad stated 5 reasons to listen to the Nudge podcast. The other stated 5 reasons why you SHOULDN’T listen to the show. It literally told people not to listen. To my surprise, that ad was more effective. In the talk, I explain.

What’s your big tech prediction for 2022?

The Metaverse will probably flop.

And finally, Silicon Brighton wouldn’t be here without people like you giving back to the community, so… what does the word community mean to you?

Having folks you can ask for support. And folks who you can help.


You can follow Phill on Twitter and LinkedIn, and watch his talk on our YouTube channel in case you missed it or want to watch it again.

Working hand-in-hand with Brighton’s tech community, we run a range of free meetup groups that cover a broad spectrum of specialist areas; from marketing to programming, product design to data. Check out what’s coming up here and join our community of like-minded individuals in the local tech scene!

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