What does it take to bring about behavior shifts?
Just because you place an ad doesn’t mean it will ignite behavior change. There is an assumption that if brands can get audience attention, give a piece of information, and associate the brand with emotions, marketers will inspire behavior change.
If marketers only focus on persuading to change an audience beliefs and preferences, how easy do you think it will be for them to change?
How can you ensure your marketing inspires people to change behavior?
Instead of trying to persuade your audience to change their believes or values, you meet them where they are by addressing knowledge gaps, social norms, and environment, you might have a change to ignite behavior change.
Think about that for a second. Audiences look at content through their own lens of personal experiences, knowledge, values, attitudes, beliefs, and motivations. And not everyone will be using a product for the same reasons. We need to think how a product, message, and the behavior change you are promoting fits into their lives.
Storytelling with cultural insight, not generalization, leads to influencing behavior and better experience. It’s the difference between designing a relevant marketing campaign and a generic one.
Telling stories that resonate and personalize your message for your audience is important, but how do you do this? Here are three elements that might help.
Does your audience know about the behavior, do they understand, and do they think it is relevant to them? You might be presenting a solution to a problem; however, your audience might not be there with you. She might have a basic knowledge and understanding or none at all of the issue and risk you are presenting. A mistake is to assume, that your audience knows what you know, and wants what you want. Different audiences might have different knowledge base and if they don’t see a need or how it fits into their lives, they will not perceive your message relevant.
To optimize your goals, meet your audience where they are. Think that different behavior objectives might be necessary for different groups of people.
Match the creative and message to your customer needs and understand your audience’s intent. Marketers need to understand exactly how people feel about an issue, use a product, what values, habits, aspirations or motivations will drive change.
Will doing this new behavior be acceptable? Will it fit with their actual or aspirational self-image? Does it fit with how they relate to others or want to?
Behavior change is a function of social context. People want to live up to what is expected of them. Culture, family, community, and peer influence are powerful forces in behavior.
To build a story that creates cultural tension, make the new behavior desirable. You can take your consumers down a different path of resistance by stringing together the audience value and aspiration with the intended behavior. The objective is to make the new behavior acceptable and visible if possible.
Once people have made a change, what can we do to help them keep doing it?
People want to be part of something. Create an environment where your audience feels supported, can get and provide feedback, and is reminded to make the new behavior a habit. A simple way of doing this is creating a social medial group on Facebook, WhatsApp, or any other social media platform where they feel comfortable sharing and engaging.
Marketers can be powerful agents for change when they understand people’s knowledge gaps, their audience social context, and the intent of why they use products or do what they what they do. They can even be more powerful and more helpful when they can reach diverse groups of people with stories that are relevant to each audience group.