What Makes Behavior Happen?

When designing a campaign, it’s useful to understand what makes someone tick. What is driving their actions? What is the combination of forces that is pushing them to do a certain thing? 

Behavior change is at the core of every marketing, communications, or branding campaign. On the surface, this seems fairly straightforward, but making it happen is much more challenging. That is why we begin by examining the competitive landscape and evaluating the behavioral drivers employed. Understanding this is critical to creating a campaign that has the strongest overall influence.

A successful campaign elicits an action or reaction from the target audience, but individuals continuously encounter other efforts to influence them and change their behavior.  Some of these attempts may even directly contradict your message, while some are entirely independent. 

This landscape of overlapping and contradictory influences is called competitive behavior change.  At its core, this is the understanding of what causes someone to choose one action in favor of another, and gives you a powerful advantage over your clientele and your competition.

We tailor our strategies according to the hierarchy and interaction between seven (7) behavioral drivers, each of which will be discussed in greater detail in this blog series.

These drivers are ranked by their ability to influence behavior (i.e.: everything else being equal, a higher-level driver will evoke behavior more strongly than a lower-level one, and in the case of multiple influences, the higher-level driver will win out). 

The 7 behavioral drivers are:

  1. Stimulus-Response: Reflexes or reactions, subject to very little personal control.
  2. Inertia: The tendency to keep doing whatever you're already doing, referred to colloquially as "the low cost of doing nothing." 
  3. Loss Aversion: The reluctance of to part with something that is already yours. 
  4. Reinforcement: Receiving something positive as a consequence of performing a particular action. 
  5. Punishment: The inverse of reinforcement: a negative consequence from engaging in a particular action. 
  6. Valuation: The emotional response we feel about a task, object, or person. 
  7. Calculation:  The objective, factual interpretation that we make about a situation or object. 

Drivers seldom occur in isolation and it is possible to overcome a higher-level driver with multiple lower-level drivers.  Given a choice, an individual will choose the strongest balance of drivers.

Over the next seven (7) blog entries, we'll examine each of these individual drivers in detail, discuss examples, and show you how they can be used to maximize your campaigns.

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