When was the last time you actually changed your mind? The hardest thing a brand can do is convince. To go against what people already believe and to ask them to believe something different. That’s why it makes so much sense to tell a story customers are inclined to believe.
Abandoning a story people know is very hard
Actually, that’s not just true for brands, it’s applicable to anything or anyone. In the scheme of natural human interactions, conversion is relatively rare. To succeed at convincing, you need to overcome all the natural resistance that comes with encountering something new. Essentially, you need to break down all the inclination that has already amassed for an idea or a storyline.
You need to destroy the loyalty that already exists for what people have and replace its equity. That’s amazingly difficult. As Seth Godin once observed, “If the story of your marketing requires the prospect to abandon a previously believed story, you have a lot of work to do.”
It’s too easy to change to things that don’t change
Redirection is simpler. You change soaps, airlines, shirt brands … Particularly if soap, airlines and shirt brands don’t mean that much to you. Changing from a brand that says and does one thing to another brand that seems to say and do the same thing under a different name is easy. That’s why and how things commoditise. When we see no difference between them, when changing makes no difference for us, because it doesn’t represent a change to our core belief system, we can do it without hesitation. Add in a good price, and we’re gone.
Changing vs confirming
The irony is that as consumers, we all say we welcome change. We don’t really. What we really welcome is improvements, additions or extensions. And we have strong preferences and priorities. Some things, packaged in some ways, appeal to us more than others – but most likely if those elements conform with our worldview.
A dispositionalist would explain this by saying that as humans we are significantly, if not completely, influenced by the cache of beliefs that we run behind the scenes and that subconsciously decide huge amounts of what we agree with and disagree with every day.
The easiest thing a brand can do is confirm – to give us more, by way of physical product or perspectives, of what we already know and agree with. Loyalty jumps when brands tell their customers, show them, present them with something they had always wanted to hear, see or think about. When Steve Jobs told Apple fans the world was entering a post-PC age, it was an idea that was readily and speedily embraced, because it confirmed what Apple fans believe, or would like to believe, anyway.
Is it time to change your story?
Marketing may help decide preference but it cannot alter fundamental inclination. If changes in your business or the market require you to shift your narrative, it’s critical that you tell a story customers are inclined to believe. A strategic session is a great place to rapidly assess what your customers are inclined to believe now, and where and how you can adjust those fundamental truths in ways they will welcome.