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It's been a long time coming


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How marketing can help generate action and deliver change on social issues: an amalgamation of a few presentations I've done recently.

(If you would like me to present this or similar to your organisation, please feel free to get in contact)

Published in: Business, Technology

It's been a long time coming

  1. 1. IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME COMING how to generate action and deliver change on social issues (Jon Howard: Quiet Storm)
  2. 2. What can get unexpected people taking to the streets?
  3. 3. Inspiration from multiple sources (not speaking with an agenda…or a book!)
  4. 4. …and personal experience
  5. 5. The question to answer: how to overcome this…
  6. 6. Or perhaps more perplexingly (and annoyingly)… …but end up not acting on, or even contradicting, these beliefs? What about when people do claim to believe something… What strategies are there for plugging this ‘Value-Action Gap’?
  7. 7. Theme to develop: what if we turn convention on its head, and explore changing behaviour directly rather than via first changing beliefs?
  8. 8. Where we will end up: Top 12 tips for delivering change 1. Have vision 2. Be impactful 3. Avoid worthiness 4. Be positive 5. Define action 6. Give reasons 7. Seem achievable 8. Make it easy 9. Imply scale 10. Deliver results 11. Reward support 12. Create ritual But first some theory…
  9. 9. Bad news: just giving people the facts is rarely enough No matter how compelling we think our evidence is, other things always get in the way
  10. 10. The brain favours established, easy to follow paths…reinforcing those same beliefs and behaviours Neurologically… Autopilot kicks in: use of habit & shortcuts
  11. 11. The brain favours actions with positive outcomes that release a ‘feel good’ hit Whereas stress and expected negative outcomes suppress this chemical release Chemically…
  12. 12. Compounded by herd behaviour: doing what everyone else does is both easy and feels good Socially…
  13. 13. “sounds great, where do I sign up”
  14. 14. Often, we’re not even aware that behaviour needs to change
  15. 15. Emotionally potent shock tactics can make an issue salient But salience is no guarantee of change, and can reinforce negative behaviour
  16. 16. Using challenging messages on negative or distressing social issues, especially where ‘I’ am part of the ‘problem’, can lead to fatigue and even rejection Challenge what seems normative behaviour, making me feel bad, and I will push back
  17. 17. Where beliefs and behaviour fight each other, we tend to modify beliefs to reflect (‘wrong’) behaviour… Psychologically = cognitive dissonance …then look for ‘proof’ to justify this behaviour and ‘new’ beliefs
  18. 18. An unwillingness or inability to change that we then presuppose of others as well “they’ve only got themselves to blame”
  19. 19. And even when you do believe (in theory)… …sometimes there are just too many barriers to action
  20. 20. So an ‘issue’ which is clear and public… And which people seem to ‘get’… 78% think chickens are kept in poor conditions 72% say think ‘welfare’ when buying chicken 83% expect retailers to ensure welfare standards (RSPCA research)
  21. 21. “Consumers deliberately reject information on animal welfare due to the emotional response it provokes, making it difficult to raise awareness of the issue” (RSPCA) But though apparently on-side, most would rather keep their heads in the sand to avoid a complex ‘feel bad’ issue
  22. 22. Why it’s hard to argue people into change Too expensive Too big Too ugly
  23. 23. In fact, where choice is difficult we’d sometimes not have to make it
  24. 24. But where choice does exist, it’s hard to change attitudes even when insignificant (we tend to prefer what we bought last)
  25. 25. Focusing on beliefs means (at best) maximising those (genuinely) predisposed rather than delivering widespread change
  26. 26. Although the radical can be normalised and change can happen even on the most intractable issues It can just take time, unfortunately, which we don’t always have
  27. 27. For the same reason, we can’t rely on politicians and legislation either Policy change takes time, and usually follows broader social beliefs (the end game not the start point)
  28. 28. But “what difference can I make?” But “what’s in it for me?” But “what do you actually want me to do?” Question: is there a way to short circuit the stages of prevarication people typically go through?
  29. 29. But “what’s in it for me?” “I do feel sorry for the polar bears”
  30. 30. But “what difference can I make?” “There’s a river in my street”
  31. 31. “I really want to help” But “what do you actually want me to do?”
  32. 32. 80% of factors influencing pro-environmental behaviour have nothing to do with knowledge or awareness And the irony…?
  33. 33. Ancient wisdom… “tell me and I forget show me and I remember involve me and I understand” (Confucius)
  34. 34. Which points to an alternative approach: don’t try to convert thru argument, but get people doing something without noticing (especially if ‘doing good’ rather than ‘stopping bad’) Harness the power of cognitive dissonance: or change behaviour and beliefs will follow
  35. 35. “You are all going to die horribly” Ineffectiveness showed even fear can’t overcome fixed behaviour
  36. 36. Whereas handing out free condoms was effective as it worked with behaviour Always better to go with the flow
  37. 37. When you had to travel, recycling was often too much hassle even for believers
  38. 38. Doorstep collection means even cynics become do-ers as it’s too easy to avoid Especially when the neighbours are joining in as well
  39. 39. Conventionally: “it’s terrible” “it’s huge” “you are part of the problem” = a ‘feel bad’ black hole (so why bother?) Or on an even bigger scale, Third World poverty…
  40. 40. How Live Aid changed (and fed) the World: not a guilt trip but a charity revolution A big, famous idea not just a cause Fun, positive, involving Definitely something in it for me Small, easy ways to make a difference Everyone’s doing it (can’t miss out)
  41. 41. But significant increase if say “this is what other guests do” The power of ‘everyone else’…
  42. 42. Back to where we began… But how do we put these into action? 1. Have vision 2. Be impactful 3. Avoid worthiness 4. Be positive 5. Define action 6. Give reasons 7. Seem achievable 8. Make it easy 9. Imply scale 10. Deliver results 11. Reward support 12. Create ritual
  43. 43. 1. Have a clear simple vision The badge you want people to wear, and banner you want them to march under
  44. 44. 2. Make sure people know Invisibility changes nothing for anyone
  45. 45. 3. Don’t turn off people with your worthiness No issue worth fighting for should be boring!
  46. 46. 4. Anchor everything in positive emotions If people ‘feel good’ not ‘feel bad’ they are more likely to get on board
  47. 47. 5. Tell people clearly what you want from them The power of “do this…now” (even the scam merchants recognise it!)
  48. 48. 6. Give a ‘reason why’ action is needed Still need the facts that (post) justify action, and form foundations of new beliefs
  49. 49. 7. Have outcomes that seem achievable This is how you make a difference
  50. 50. 8. Make it (seem) natural and easy to do Use simple actions, sign posts and short cuts to maximise involvement
  51. 51. Exploit the power of social presence, proof…and pressure 9. Imply ‘everyone’ is doing ‘it’
  52. 52. 10. Make sure to deliver on your promises Disillusionment is the quickest way to kill a movement
  53. 53. Even if that is just gratitude, answer the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question 11. Give something back
  54. 54. Ritual marries action and belief, making it harder to stop than to keep on going 12. Ritualise new behaviour
  55. 55. Steps to changing the world 1. Have vision 2. Be impactful 3. Avoid worthiness 4. Be positive 5. Define action 6. Give reasons 7. Seem achievable 8. Make it easy 9. Imply scale 10. Deliver results 11. Reward support 12. Create ritual
  56. 56. …and even if an issue they don’t especially believe in, their united self interest might change the world Bring people together in simple, feel good activities they don’t want to miss out on…
  57. 57. The beginning!