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Meet the Trainer...Richard Shotton, Founder of Astroten

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 2 October 2019
Updated: Friday 27 September 2019

Richard Shotton

What does Richard Shotton at Astroten do?

I’m the founder of Astroten, a consultancy that helps marketers apply behavioural science to their challenges. Over the last year I’ve worked with companies like Google, O2, Brewdog and the Co-op, helping them apply the findings from this discipline to their work.

What route did you take to this role, i.e. what did you study in college, experience on the way?

I studied geography at Oxford University and then joined the industry as a media planner in 2000. After that I moved into research before, finally, specialising in applying behavioural science to marketing. 

How important do you think continued upskilling and continuous professional development is to marketing?

In the film Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s character says “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies.” The same could be said of a career, you’ve got to keep moving forward and learning new things or you stagnate.  

What benefits can attendees hope to obtain from attending training programmes?

Behavioural science is the study of how people actually behave, rather than how they claim to behave. So, if you know about the findings you can shape your marketing to work with human nature rather than against it. 

We’ll focus on the insights from the discipline that are most relevant to marketing and introduce a straight-forward framework that makes applying behavioural science simple. 

Attendees will leave the course knowledgeable about the topic and able to harness it in their next campaign

What do you consider as the key criteria for training to be effective?

Effective training needs to be practical, interactive and fun.

What do you believe are the challenges facing marketers today?

Many of the challenges in marketing are the same as they have always been. Questions like: 

How do you get noticed? Or How do you make your brand more appealing than your competitors? Behavioural science provides some fundamental insights into those perennial questions. 

What trends are shaping marketing briefs in 2019 and 2020?

People’s motivations are remarkably consistent from one year to the next. Bill Bernbach, the greatest creative director of the 20th Century, said:
It took millions of years for man’s instincts to develop. It will take millions more for them to even vary. It is fashionable to talk about changing man. A communicator must be concerned with unchanging man, with his obsessive drive to survive, to be admired, to succeed, to love, to take care of his own.

Our industry spends too long worrying about the latest new thing and not enough on the fundamentals of human behaviour.

What are the current challenges and opportunities that marketers face in terms of marketing effectiveness? 

Many of the insights on briefs rely too heavily on claimed data, that is what people say motivates them. 

One of the key themes of behavioural science is that these claims can often be misleading. 

So, an effective brief needs to have a healthy scepticism about customers’ claimed motivations and instead dig deeper to unearth the genuine drivers. 

And finally to whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

Rory Sutherland and Dave Trott are two of the most interesting marketing thinkers of the moment. I’m always keen on hearing on what they have to say.

Richard Shotton is the lead on the Marketing Institute’s CMO masterclass, Using Behavioural Science to Solve Business Challenges, taking place on 14th November 2019. More details on


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