Shortening the distance between “intention” and “action.”


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In marketing and advertising, it isn’t that hard to get your audience to like you.

It isn’t hard to get them to agree with your reasoned argument.

It isn’t hard to lead them all the way to the water’s edge. To get them to acknowledge what they should do.

The hard part is getting them to drink. To act. Specifically, if it means somehow changing their behavior.

Trying to get prospects to change their behavior based on logical arguments is an uphill climb that makes Sisyphus’s job a walk in the park.

An example of how difficult it is to get consumers to change behavior based on logical arguments is the “green movement.” While an overwhelming majority (70%) of American consumers agree that “buying green” is important, only 19% list it as their primary criteria for their purchases. The other 50%+ are in essense saying “Yeah, we know we buying green is important, we know we should do it, but you know, I’m still buying that new SUV.”

If measured logic and the “sober adult talk” won’t entice consumers to change their behavior, what will?

One place to look for possible answers to this question is in the field of Behavioral Economics, which studies the effects of social, cognitive and emotional factors on economic decisions (wow, that’s a mouthful). In short, that means you’ll have way more luck motivating consumers to act by redesigning the experience around the way they already act rather than rely on rational arguments. This approach will bear way more fruit than trying to change behaviors.

You need to make it almost intuitive for them to act. An example: putting the veggies within easy reach increases the chances your diet will succeed. Not because you’ll prefer broccoli over glazed donuts. But because it’s the easy solution. You’re able to act before your “lizard brain” has the opportunity to talk you out of it.

The challenge for marketers is figuring out how to make conditions right so prospects will make that behavior change without really thinking about it. To entice action before the instinctive, non-thinking part of your brain (which hates change and loves patterns and predictability) has a chance to talk you out of it.

The real-time interactivity of today’s online tools and social platforms can be powerful tools in shortening the distance between “intention” and “action.” A great example is the idea of “text to contribute,” where after getting “agreement” from the prospect, you give him an easy, almost effortless way to follow though (“Donate $10 by texting ‘RedCross’ to 4343”). Way more effective than hoping he’ll copy down a phone number or URL from a TV spot and follow up on it when his program ends.

Changing behaviors, even subtly, is a delicate balance indeed. You want prospects to consciously agree. Then instinctively act.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


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