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HomemibusinessThe Business of Behavioural Change

The Business of Behavioural Change

Driving consumer change may be a challenge, but it can be essential to achieving success. So where do you start?

Whether you’re an ophthalmologist, optometrist, administrator or advertiser, you’re in the business of changing behaviour. Your aim might be to convince a patient to comply with a new treatment regime, or to invest in more sophisticated lenses, perhaps you’re working with staff to improve practice efficiencies or reaching out to attract new customers. Whatever you’re doing, it’s only by driving change in behaviour that you will achieve success.

Sounds simple, but in reality, driving behaviour change can extremely complicated. It requires an expert understanding of what motivates the people you’re trying to influence, as well as a clear vision of the changes you’re trying to achieve and the reason for doing so – i.e. your business objective or goal.

While achieving behavioural change on a mass scale was once a big budget project, that’s no longer the case. Fortunately, over the past 20 years, advertising has been transformed by the internet, technology advancements, social media, data and smartphones. It’s become instant, interactive, fun and far more measurable than ever before. This is great news for eye health practices of all sizes, because in a fully interactive media landscape, you can influence and change behaviour more effectively and with less financial outlay. But where do you start?

there are many ways to change people’s behaviour and many behaviours to change

What Motivates a Consumer?

Erin Schiavone, senior communications analyst at Deloitte Digital, writes that the role of behaviour change practitioners is to figure out “what motivates their audiences” then to, “remove barriers to taking action and understand the emotional triggers that prompt change.”1

Of course this can be difficult because to a certain degree, consumers themselves don’t know why they want the things they want – their decision making is often driven by subconscious motivators they’re not even aware of.

However, it’s worth the effort because, as New York consumer behaviour and consumer psychology expert Michael Fishman writes, understanding these subconscious motivators is the key to developing a strong and loyal customer base.

“Consumer psychology is all about getting into that unconscious territory where people are being directed to make their purchases for reasons they’re not clear about,” he writes.2

Where to Start

Australia’s well known consumer psychologist Adam Ferrier (and author of The Advertising Effect: How to Change Behaviour) advises organisations to drive small, easy changes, that consumers are motivated to make. “Convincing people to make big changes in behaviour is possible, but it is hard to achieve, costs much more money and use more resources,” he says.3

That makes sense. Through practice marketing for example, you are more likely to have success in getting a patient or customer to come to your website in the first instance than make a dedicated trip to your practice (it’s easier). And you’re more likely to get a patient to come in for a free trial of a new contact lens than you are to sell them a box or two straight off the bat (it’s less of a financial risk for them). Backing those first sales up with calls or emails to ascertain satisfaction and prompting timely purchases of more contact lenses will help cement the relationship.

By simply making it fun and easy for someone to change their behaviour, you can also increase the opportunity to make something happen. Using interactive technology – either in store or online – that allows patients to try frames on via a scanned photo is one way to do this, and can be particularly useful for people who need to be wearing their glasses to see clearly. Creating a retail environment that appeals to your customer base – whether they’re hipsters, professionals or kids for instance – via music, furnishings and service style, can also help your customer feel comfortable when trying new frames that take them out of their personal comfort zone.

As marketing expert Marie Forleo says, “We often get disappointed by our experiences out in the world, whether it’s a yoga class or a restaurant, or a retail shop. But if people go over and beyond to really take care of you, those are the kinds of experiences people go out of the way to tell their friends about.”2

Of course it’s not possible to create the ideal retail environment for every customer, the trick is to identify those you most want to become part of your loyal fan base and then to go all out to satisfy them.

Define What You Want

While there are many ways to change people’s behaviour and many behaviours to change, it’s important to carefully define what you’re aiming to achieve before you start. It’s also essential to ensure your resources will be maximised and results optimised as a consequence of the changes achieved.

Some consumer behaviours that might appear easy to effect, may not be as beneficial to your business as others. As an example, encouraging your happy contact lens patients to tell their friends to drop into your practice may be easy, but how many people will it bring in… and will it achieve your growth targets? Reaching out to all spectacle and contact lens wearers in your demographic and geographic area with an offer to trial a new lens may be more difficult but will generate far greater results for your practice in the long run.

Adam Ferrier recommends plotting the behaviour you want to change on a behaviour framing grid to double check that it is achievable. Use the following reference points on your graph:

  1. Behaviours that are high in motivation and high in ease are likely to happen
  2. Behaviours that are high in motivation but low in ease might happen
  3. Behaviours that are low in motivation but high in ease might happen
  4. Behaviours that are low in motivation and low in ease are unlikely to happen.
1. www.deloittedigital.com/us/blog/how-behavior-change-communications-can-impact-your-marketing-strategy
2. www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2013/08/20/cracking-the-code-of-consumer-psychology/#4bf94a4cfe70
3. Ferrier, Adam. The Advertising Effect: How to Change Behaviour. Amazon.com