- Fri, January 20 2012
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
One of the biggest barriers to getting people to take a protective action is their own sense of invulnerability. While people may perceive a risk, they don’t think they’ll ever be a victim. They are Superman and Wonder Woman. Others are stupid to text and drive, but they can handle it. Disability insurance? Eh, probably not needed. Bicycle helmets? Important for everyone else!
So in a recent blog post neuromarketer Roger Dooley posed the question, what do you do to market protective measures to the many people who think they are invulnerable?
He found the answer in a hospital, where health care professionals don’t always wash their hands. Penn psychologist Adam Grant did an experiment with two messages placed next to a hand cleaning station. One sign read, “Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases,” while another said “Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.”
Guess what? The superhuman health professionals didn’t pay much mind to the first sign - because they won’t get sick! - but they were more inclined to act when thinking of other, vulnerable people. In fact, the second sign increased the use of soap and sanitizing gel by 33%!
So for Superman and Wonder Woman, we need to point out the risks not to them, but to others, says Dooley.
How does this apply to us? I’ll bet many of you are trying to get people to take protective measures - vaccinating a baby, stopping smoking, fastening a seatbelt, doing family planning, etc. Instead of beating people over the head with the message that they really need to worry, try talking about how a lack of action could affect their family, friends and community members.
I think back to a project in which I had to help inspire Baby Boomers to create a living will. No one wants to contemplate their own demise. So we encouraged the Boomers to talk to their family members about the importance of advance care planning - and to fill out a living will themselves in order to get their parents and other relatives to do the same. It was far more effective than simply telling them to take the action because of their own vulnerability.
The bottom line? Don’t try to scare a person who feels like a superhuman into a state of vulnerability. Ask them to take an action for others. Being superhumans, they will want to rescue the rest of us!