Trying to force people to consume when they don’t want to is not a good growth strategy. Instead, innovate to remove the barriers to action.
Be wary of the mantra: If we build it, they will come.
Have you ever felt pushed or trying to be influenced to do something, and the more they insist, the more you resist or entirely ignore it? Your reaction could be for many reasons. Maybe you are not interested because you had more pressing problems, you are solving the issue in another way, or because it is not that important to you. Are you being seen?
As marketers, strategies, and designers, we have to learn to see. Learning to see involves empathy and respect for the people we seek to serve. Learn to see their dreams, desires, and the culture they belong to or want to be part of.
Our job is to help them get where they want to go next.
In our eagerness to solve a problem and go to market, we tend to ignore two crucial assumptions and four barriers that can derail us from helping the people we seek to serve.
- The first mistake is to assume that someone that does not consume wants to consume. Maybe the people you are serving are not interested, or your offer does apply to them in their current circumstances. It is a nice have but not a priority for them.
- The second mistake is assuming that people that don’t consume our product are not consuming any products. Maybe they have found a way to work around what they want to get done. Have you ever used a knife as a screwdriver?
Innovate and Remove Four barriers to Action:
A third mistake is not understanding the barriers to consumption. If they are interested in the offer and are using a way to a surrogate to help them, then the question is, why are they not consuming?
Do they have the ability to do so?
Recently I was working with a non-profit organization that serves first-generation Latino parents. LEAF helps them understand how to navigate the US school system. Coaching and workshops were in-person meetings. And then, Covid changed everything. And we had to pivot to an online session. The interest was still there, but no one was signing up and showing up. Although parents knew how to use their smartphones, they didn’t know how to subscribe and access the online meeting platform. So, LEAF focused on educating parents on registering for workshops, seminars, and using the online meeting platform.
They have the desire, but is the product or service accessible?
In 1993, I was working in a startup marketing agency. Little Caesars Pizza was losing market share to its competitors. The franchisee group approached us to help them with the Hispanic consumer. Hispanics love to eat pizza, and first-generation Latinos ate pizza as a celebration and a get-together party. But the celebratory occasion needed to happen at a seating down restaurant. And Little Caesars has no chairs or tables. It is a food pick up parlor. We needed to help Latinos change their perspective that a celebration could take place anywhere, and Littel Ceasar could be with them.
Do people have the financial assets to be able to afford the services?
Part of Latino students learning to navigate the US school system is taking the SAT and ACT, but how can they do that when parents have limited resources and are concern about more pressing things? LEAF partnered with the SAT Board to provide vouchers to low-income Latino parents enabling young students to take the test.
Is it too cumbersome or time-consuming?
During the H1N1 crisis, we worked to increase vaccination among Latinos and African Americans. The population at risk was ambivalent about getting vaccinated and didn’t have the time to go to a determined place when they work two jobs and needed to take care of the family. Thus, we brought the vaccine to them. We set at a tent in a convenient community location and partnered with a pharmacy to provide the vaccines.
If the people you serve have a desire for your offering and are non-consuming, don’t try to persuade them. Work on removing the consumption barriers. Don’t force, innovate.