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YOU DO WHAT OTHERS DO

Most of us harness peer pressure in our messages to drive sales actions. Customer references, “9 out of 10 prefer…” … are good examples. But what about driving other actions. In the latest HBR, Noah Goldstien points to some great examples  of how to do this.

First, how could hotels get more folks to reuse the towels rather than requesting new ones? They adjusted the message we all see today to one, truthfully stating, that the majority of other hotel guests reused their towels. Participation went up 26%.

But it doesn’t always work this way. Robert Cialdini found signs at Arizona’s Petrified Forest National park highlighting that others had stolen petrified wood not only proved less effective but resulted in more theft than when there were no signs at all.

And, in another study – when California households were told they were using more electricity than their neighbors they reduced consumption. But, when they were told they were using less, they increased consumption.

The messaging lessons:

  1. people respond to messages that point to the behavior of others
  2. the more similar the people, the more potent the effect
  3. show approval of positive behavior (when California households got a smiley face for low electricity usage they continued with their winning ways…)
  4. test messages for responses and tune
  5. measure message outcomes vs. resonance (I might be aware of the need to reuse towels but be doing nothing about it)

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