No sound marketing plan, social policy programme or communications brief should duck the question of what it is you want people to do. This doesn’t diminish the importance of eliciting feelings, making people understand or telling them things they didn’t know before—but the end game is action.
Influencing and ultimately affecting what people do is all that counts and is the only real measure of marketing return on investment.
So there’s the rub. People just get on with their overly busy lives and any case for change hits a wall of inertia. If we walk the dog, don’t we always walk the same way round the pond? Getting in the car, turning on the ignition and then connecting our seatbelt is one smooth barely conscious process—but it wasn’t always so. Those habits were acquired and embedded in the past.
It is possible to change behaviour. Is it easy to change behaviour? Absolutely not.
1. Though behaviour change is a recurring theme in the current era, its counterbalance is the energy expended in retaining customers, building loyalty and avoiding churn – so, for many companies, behaviour reinforcement is as important as, if not more important than, behaviour change.
2. Changing behaviour is a means of shifting people from your competitor’s brand to your brand, whereas behaviour reinforcement is how you then keep them.
3. This concept is also relevant in social marketing, where the emphasis is on reinforcing positive behaviour change for the good of the individual and of society.
4. The TRA Behaviour Change five-point model identifies the role of research and insights in five key areas:
Drivers of behaviour
Restraints to change
Identification of change activators
Exertion of influence over actuation
Behaviour change reinforcement.
5. Measuring behaviour change can be simple where ease of change is low. Where there is greater effort or resistance, more creative means are required to establish progress along a pathway of change.