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Behind the wheel with choice drivers

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I saw a speaker at a recent event who discussed the five things that drive choice:

  1. Conscious choice
  2. Habit
  3. Pressure
  4. Default
  5. Impulse

The speaker used this framework to talk about time management; but I thought about them with regard to marketing – and more specifically, messaging and deployment frequency.

Our approach is typically to nail down our key audience, the action we want them to take and what they need to believe to take that action.

But this talk I attended lead me to consider adding another layer – what type of choice driver do we need to influence?

If breaking a habit is our goal, for example, then our messaging must address how changing an entrenched habit can make a person’s life better. The speaker said it takes 21 days to change a habit, so a campaign that seeks to change a habit needs to last this long with a frequency of at least 3 across 3 weeks. So, for instance, let’s say I’m marketing a new grocery store chain that’s come into a market against a giant who’s had 75% market share for 20 years. I’ve got to change a large swatch of consumers’ habits. My message has got to give them a pretty darned good reason to change a behavior they’ve engaged in since they were children, right? How will Betty’s life be better if she switches to the new grocer?

On the other hand, if a person’s choice is driven by impulse, the frequency and messaging must be much more intense and energetic. For example, if we’re selling lottery tickets (we can all admit that’s mostly an impulse buy, right?) and our target is driving to work, we’ve got to be on the radio right at the moment, or shortly before, they pass a C-store. If we only run one spot per week on one station across 3 weeks, the chances are pretty slim we’re going to hit that person at the exact right/impulsive moment. Our frequency has got to be more in the neighborhood of 10-12 across 3 weeks. And, our message must be read with urgency and excitement since impulse is largely driven on adrenaline.

See what I mean?!?

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