The goal of marketing is to bring about change. If we’re trying to create a movement, to raise money for a non-profit organization, to sell a product, to change lifestyles, to create a community, these are all marketing activities that exist to change the way which people act.
The project usually starts with clarity. The cause is right, the harm is real, the product is better. The work is worth it, there is an urgent need for change, it is real.
But sometimes the original arguments, as valid as they are, don’t work. In fact, they rarely do. Not all people line up to donate, train, or register early on. You can put the energy into making your speech heard, but the former often fall flat. It is only when the arguments become clearer or change that they begin to resonate.
And yet, we can stick to a certain orthodoxy. An early argument can become the only argument. The story the band has been telling from the start is the right one, and anything else is a disappointing compromise, even if it does lead to the action you were looking for in the first place.
In general, there are three things that cause people to change their actions:
- Status roles
Status roles involve whether this action will move someone up or down in the rating of their peers or competitors.
Membership is linked to status, but more specific. It’s “people like us do things like that.” In the words of the Rolling Stones: He can’t be a man because he doesn’t smoke, the same cigarettes as me.
And convenience is the hallmark of a semi-lazy decision – it’s just easier.
Using these three drivers, you can watch helmets spread in the NHL, electric cars in California, or Nike sneakers everywhere. We can see it in the decline of smoking in some communities, or in the rise of a popular style of music.
The initiators of these ideas and others didn’t start with status, affiliation, or convenience, but that’s what ended up working.