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  • October 21, 2011

3 Steps to Making Change Happen

People don't change, right?

This fundamental assumption is often what stops potentially great marketers from seeing success. How could we ever convince anyone to change their entrenched habits?

Well, the way we think about change may be what's holding us back, Chip Heath, co-author of the best-selling book "Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard", said during his keynote address at Eloqua Experience 2011.

Here are the things we know about change: it's hard, people hate it and they resist it. But, Heath said, our conventional wisdom about change might be off.

Ketchup, he noted, was once America's top condiment. Now it's salsa. {C} "What brand manager 15 years ago would have taken the job of changing America’s most beloved condiment to something that burns your mouth when you eat it," he asked the audience.changing-buyer-behavior

changing-behaviorFor that matter, who would get married when it involves such fundamental changes to our lifestyles and decision-making processes? But Heath performed a Google image search for the term "Wedding" and found it difficult to find photos that didn't show people embracing such change happily.

It's not that change, whether it's in ourselves or by influencing buyers, is impossible, Heath noted. It's that our approach to change is often involves imposing forces in our own brains.

{C} "Part of us really wants that better beach body come summer, but a part of us really wants the Oreo cookie when we open the cupboard," Heath said. To effect change we need to align the analytical and desire-driven aspects in our thought process.

Step One
The first step in that is training our analytical side to solve problems by focusing on what's going right and not on what's going wrong. "It’s worth asking what’s going right right now and how do we scale it," Heath said. In other words, if our marketing programs are lagging in this sluggish economy, find the bright spots. "All of you have products that aren't selling right now," he added. "But you have products that are selling." It's better to spend more time analyzing success than failures.Switch-Heath

Step Two
The second step is to find the feeling that will make people want to change. We typically think spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations demonstrating inefficiencies or successes will motivate people to change. In reality, we need to tap into a feeling that makes people want to change.

The typical way we think about change in large businesses is people analyze the problem, think about it and then implement change, Heath said. But really how we get people to change is to make them see something, which makes them feel something, which makes them want to change.

Step Three
The third step is avoiding the fundamental attribution behavior. Our tendency is to focus on people's personality rather than the situation they are in. When Amazon.com patented the 1-Click Purchase button, they weren't changing buyers' personalities, they were changing the situation, Heath noted. {C} "To change behavior you don’t have to change people’s personalities," he added. "You need to change the environment."

Those three-steps add up to recipe we can use to create change in our lives, in our workplace and in our marketing: 1.Focus on what's going right and how you can do more of it, 2. find a visceral way to show the need to change, and 3. remove the obstacles to change.

What do you think? Have you had to push for change in your organization or among your buyers? How did you do it?

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