Yesterday, I joined 1600 marketing types at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto at The Art of Marketing Conference. We listened to bestselling authors talk about their marketing theories and themes.  The highlight for me was Dan Heath, author of Made to Stick and new book, Switch: How to Change Things when Change is Hard. He reminded me of how important it is to understand the psychology of change in order to build a connection with customers.

Dan’s theory is that getting people to change the way they do something, is really hard work. That is why getting people to change they way do something and start doing it differently with your product or service is much more than a “sales and markeing” effort. Think about the first time you used a cell phone versus a pay phone or you stopped printing a newsletter and sent it out through email.

To get someone to change you must:

  1. Direct the person
  2. Motivate the person
  3. Shape the path

Reasons people don’t change:

  1. They don’t know what to do differently
  2. They don’t want to
  3. They say things are blocking my path to change

As marketers, we often jump to the solution in our marketing. Instead of discussing the problem that someone is having and defining why it happens, we jump in with “features and functions” to demonstrate our product. Example: “Our software product can track, measure, report, polish, soak and bake.”  These are all great attributes but if I am a first time user of your product, as a marketer, how are you going to:

  • Help me identify my problem?
  • Motivate me to consider doing differently what I do today?
  • Clear a path to doing it by providing information that helps me understand how I am going to get from point A to point B.

Heath’s advice: In order to start the change process, forget the problems and find the bright spots and start with “what’s working right now?”

So here is my nibble for the week:

Take a moment and think about your best customer. Make a list of all of the things they are doing with your product or service.

  • What happens in their business when they use it?
  • What did it change in their business?
  • What did you do to make it easy to adopt it?

According to Heath, the best way to evoke change is to emulate yourself at your best moment. Best way to improve your marketing and engage with your customer is to emulate the before and after of your very best customer.

Things people forget about change:

  1. Knowledge is rarely enough to spark change.
  2. Knowledge rarely leads to change.
  3. Logic does not provide motivation.

Change Process:


Lastly, and this is the hard part for many companies, it will take five to seven attempts before you begin to succeed. Persistence is key in the change process, so sending one direct mail piece or making one phone call isn’t enough to evoke a prospect to switch to your solution. You not only need to understand how to direct, motivate and clear the path, you also need to do it over and over again. Change is hard!