Getting People to Change Their Behavior

convince them to change their behavior

The goal of all marketers is to convince people to change their behavior. Try this product. Fill out a form. Don’t take a taxi; take an Uber. And, most recently, stay home, wash your hands, wear a mask.

As we’ve seen lately, even with a very compelling reason for people to change their behavior, getting them to do so, especially for any length of time, is hard. In fact, when you tell someone, “do this,” it is likely that the answer will be no, as anyone who is the parent of a teenager can attest. It’s human nature to push back against directives from other people. The most effective strategies involve convincing people it is their own idea to change their behavior.

Point Out Inconsistencies

Have you ever heard anyone say, “Do as I say, not as I do”? We often have double standards, where we judge other people for behavior we do ourselves.

For a healthy habit, for example, instead of trying to convince someone to do them it because “it’s good for you,” substitute a loved one and then enlarge the idea.

In a groundbreaking stop smoking campaign in Thailand, health officials had young children go up to an adult who was smoking and ask for a light. The adult would explain that the child shouldn’t smoke because it is unhealthy. Before the child walked away, he would give the smoker a flier that said “You worry about me … But why not about yourself?” with a toll-free quit line number. Calls to the number jumped 60% during this campaign.

Turn It Around

Rather than telling, try asking. People do not like feeling like they are being lectured, but a thoughtful question can get them thinking in a different way. For example, an agent selling life insurance can talk for an hour about how important it is to be covered. Or she could pose the question, “How would you support your family financially if the main wage earner suddenly passed away?” Now, the prospect is making internal calculations that are likely to shift the conversation from “if” to “how much coverage is needed.”

Break It Down

Sometimes, recommendations can seem too overwhelming. For example, financial planners typically recommend that everyone have at least 3-6 months worth of cash set aside in an emergency fund. But for people living paycheck to paycheck, that can seem like an impossible task. Instead, ask them to save all of their $1 bills each week and put that money in a separate account. Wells Fargo has a program that does just that called Way2Save. Every time an account holder uses her debit card for a purchase, $1 is transferred into her savings account. Over time, the small deposits will eventually build up into an adequate emergency fund.

Pro Creative crafts persuasive communication that can get prospects to change their behavior to fill out a form, set an appointment or make a purchase. Find out how we can help you increase leads and sales.

Here are some more tips from the Harvard Business Review.