On our last blog we wrote about moving people through the stages of change. Fun stuff. we also said that you can’t move people from “not interested” to “I’ll consider it” to “I will research it” to “I will try it” to “I do it regularly” with one banner ad or news story or commercial. It takes an integrated approach.
There is one exception: a crisis. It’s the only way to QUICKLY change behavior. Now, you can’t go out and create a crisis. That would be wrong(ish). But you can anticipate a crisis and have messages and materials ready. When we worked with Georgia Commute Options—trying to convince people to ride transit, carpool or work from home— we had pieces ready for when gas prices spiked. Like this one:

We created a radio spot with sweet kids talking about their asthma ready to run when there was a bad air day. Granted, you can’t predict major disasters, but you can look into likely scenarios that will catch people when they are ready to change.
How else can you move people along?
Of all the influence levers we use to change behavior, this one’s our favorite:
Appeal to an Identity– An identity is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. There are a few pillars that make up everyone’s identity that work universally in the right situations. One of these is Competency. We all believe that we are better than average in various parts of our lives. Most people believe they are smart, kind, good people, good at their jobs and so on. For example, study after study shows that the majority of people believe they are above average drivers, which is impossible.

I’m an excellent driver.

Car marketing is a great example of using identity to promote a product. People don’t buy Volvo’s because Volvo’s are safer, though they say they do. They buy Volvo’s because they are good parents (my family is safer because of my decision) or because they are smarter (I am more enlightened and understand that safety is the most important feature). Another example is Volkswagen, which has stayed true to their “People’s car” image. If you own a Volkswagen you are practical, quirky and smarter that those “other people” who drive less practical cars.

Other car manufacturers use a different pillar of identity: Worthiness. BMWs “Sheer driving pleasure.” Or “Porsche. There is no substitute.” both communicate, “You deserve this.”
How does this work if you market a travel destination or healthcare service or university? The simplest and most self-serving answer is to talk to someone who knows how to.
Those people might also talk to you about other positioning methods used to move people along and they include:
1) Show them how success looks 2) Leverage Normative Values 3) Make them insiders 4) Start with a Simple Step 5) Inspire them 6) Tap into existing habits
The best creative people know their craft inside and out and our craft is getting people to change the way they think, feel and act. If that means we have to create a crisis, well we won’t do that, but we will do this other stuff.