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Greg Stielstra
Franklin, TN
Marketing communications & engagement professional with special expertise in behavioral economics
Interests: I work as the Director of Best Practice Design at Healthways, the leading well-being improvement company. I've spent 25+ years in marketing and public relations. I became a student of behavioral economics because it explained the actual consumer behavior I saw in the marketplace. I've worked in book publishing (Where, among other things, I was the marketing director for The Purpose Driven Life), led planning, buying and digital for Tennessee's largest ad agency, solved engagement challenges for health care and taught marketing at Vanderbilt University. I've also written two books: PyroMarketing (HarperCollins, 2005) and Faith-Based Marketing (Wiley, 2009). I love thinking more deeply about how people really behave and using those insights to solve marketing challenges. I also lead the Nashville Packer Backers Club, lift weights, climb mountains, write songs and enjoy life with my wife and family.
Recent Activity
I woke up at 2:30 the other morning with two words and a song idea in my head. I was troubled by NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem. I found their protest offensive, but also misguided because... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2017 at PyroMarketing
By choosing to protest racial inequality by disrespecting the national anthem and American flag, players put their fans in an impossible quandary. Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2017 at PyroMarketing
Stephen Covey said, "Begin with the end in mind." That's good advice. Whether plotting the path for a road trip or writing a marketing plan, it helps to focus on where you want to end up before deciding how best... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2016 at PyroMarketing
What's the value of a dollar? Well, that depends. The other day my wife, who is an artist, wanted a specific book with photos of flowers she could use a reference for her paintings. She told me with excitement that... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2016 at PyroMarketing
It probably seemed like a good idea: Display the Windows logo on the desktop when no application is running. You know, to get some free branding. Except that when the software that displays arriving and departing flights at Nashville International... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2015 at PyroMarketing
Which of the offers in the visual below is the better value? Which would you be more likely to buy? It's NOT a trick question. I know, it looks like they're the same, but you--and most everyone else--would find A... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2014 at PyroMarketing
Can you spot the mistake in this poster's headline? It's the word "Busy." The word "busy" in this context is a form of negative priming (a stimulus that influences people's near-term future thoughts and actions). It causes people to think... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2014 at PyroMarketing
OOPS! Many policies and incentives plans seem like good ideas on their face, but can have unintended consequences. Here's one lesson from hissssssssstory. When the British colonized India they sought to reduce the number of deadly cobras so they paid... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2014 at PyroMarketing
What's in a name? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Before giving something a label or a name, think about the behavior you want to elicit and then name it accordingly. Here’s an example. Both of the photos below... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2014 at PyroMarketing
The words we use to describe something powerfully influence how we think about them and, consequently, the place they occupy in our minds. It's called positioning. That mental position, in turn, can determine the value we assign to something. Too... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2014 at PyroMarketing
What do massages and behavioral economics have in common? I used one to get the other. Several months ago I gave my wife a gift certificate to a local spa for a manicure, a pedicure and a massage. She decided... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2014 at PyroMarketing
I spoke at SXSW this year, co-leading a Core Conversation session with Colt Whittall of Isobar. Amy Stielstra, my wife, was there too and helped by "scribing" our talk. If you missed it but want to experience it, or were... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2014 at PyroMarketing
The Quantified Human At SXSW I spoke with some people who predicted that technology will make it possible for people to quantify and track their behaviors, feelings, actions and more during every moment of the day and then to review... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2014 at PyroMarketing
Is there something you want but can't seem to accomplish? Behavioral economics can often provide effective solutions to the common problems, but discovering them requires us to view our problems differently. At an early morning meeting the other day a... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2013 at PyroMarketing
Remember Tickle Me Elmo? It was a stuffed toy that would giggle and vibrate when tickled by children. Released by Tyco Toys in 1996, it has a retail price of $29. But then the Christmas shopping season arrived and seemingly... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2013 at PyroMarketing
Why do people camp in front of stores or get up in the middle of the night to get the "best deals" on Black Friday? Why do they push and shove and trample each other to purchase products they could... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2013 at PyroMarketing
Why are the beams supporting this bridge narrower between the yellow arrows and wider between the red arrows? The beams between the red arrows are wider because that section of the bridge crosses a wider span between the supporting collumns.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2013 at PyroMarketing
I lay in bed one morning, considering whether to get up or snooze a bit longer. When I finally decided to get up, I had a startling realization. One foot was already on the floor. I was acting on my... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2013 at PyroMarketing
People have a long history of unintentionally poisoning themselves. Thalidomide was a popular drug used to treat morning sickness in pregnant women during the 1950's until we discovered it caused babies to be born without arms and legs. DDT was... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2013 at PyroMarketing
So, you think "you're all that." Welcome to the club. Almost everyone does. 87% of MBA students at Stanford rated their academic performance as above average. 68% of faculty at the University of Nebraska rated themselves in the top 25%... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2013 at PyroMarketing
Here are the places where I'll be speaking. If you attend one of these events, be sure to find me and say hi afterward. I'd love to meet you. April 9, 2013 - Dean Health Systems, Madison, WI - WholeMind... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2013 at PyroMarketing
If you’re reading this line, then the headline worked. It provided a social incentive to continue reading. More on social incentives later, but for now notice two things: First, that incentives work and second that if a headline can be... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2013 at PyroMarketing
Researching consumer preferences might be a complete waste. Most consumer research assumes that people have a stable set of preferences that govern their choices and that these can be discovered through surveys and focus groups. But, there is growing evidence... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2013 at PyroMarketing
Following the Principles of Persuasion Workshop, Dr. Robert Cialdini's team provided a recommended reading list for people interested in learning more about the psychology of persuasion. Though PyroMarketing is conspicuously absent, I thought I'd pass their list along anyway. :)... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2013 at PyroMarketing
On March 7 & 8 I realized a dream. I attended the two-day Principles of Persuasion Workshop with Dr. Robert Cialdini and Dr. Greg Neidert. It was two days of heaven for a behavioral economics nerd like me. The workshop... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2013 at PyroMarketing