There is a great book published in 2000 by Jeffrey Pfeffer called The Knowing-Doing Gap which highlights the major challenge of shrinking the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it.
I was thinking about the knowing-doing gap this morning and one of the primary solutions to shrinking that gap: motivation. Most individuals know why and what to do; some know how to do it. But so few actually do. The reason? A lack of internal motivation required to fight through obstacles and actually do something that is somewhat difficult.
Think of all the good things we as humans don’t do in our personal lives: exercise, eat right, spend more time with our kids, be extra patient with a spouse. At work, many struggle to adhere to that new process the boss asked us to follow, or take an extra minute to make sure the customer is completely satisfied.
Desire. Motivation. It’s the secret sauce that turns a passive consumer into an active one and a disengaged team into a fired-up, butt-kicking ninja squad.
Much has been written about how motivation is developed and maintained. There is the famous Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (needs being the building blocks of motivation). There is Daniel Pink’s treatment called Drive, which champions a more evolved and optimistic understanding of human motivation involving “our innate need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and do better by ourselves and our world.” And there are those who argue over which model is most accurate.
I won’t get into the debate, but I did want to highlight that, at its core, the discipline of marketing is about sparking motivation. We can lay out the most sophisticated search engine and social media plan, but if your marketing lacks an understanding of customer motivations, you’ll fail.
Customers in consumer and B2B markets are overwhelmed, and we as marketers are asking them to change something. Change their minds, change their buying habits. And motivating change is insanely difficult. For the most part, only those customers who catch a meaningful spark of motivation will stop and consider something different, which is what your brand needs in order to grab a new customer (coincidentally, that difficulty in sparking change motivation is why it’s so much easier to grow from within existing customers vs. new ones).
Creating motivation is why the infusion of emotion is so critical in marketing. Consumer goods marketers are a bit more adept at this discipline of creating emotional motivation than their B2B counterparts, but I believe we could all understand this a little better.
Tapping the emotions of an individual – engaging their primary motivations – are key to getting them to pay attention and consider changing. Product features, case studies, testimonials are all important, but they are secondary to the primary role of marketing: to engage fundamental motivations that lead to change.
It’s why Axe tries to inflame the hormones of young men in their ads.
It’s why babies and animals are the stars of so many Super Bowl commercials.
It’s why insurance companies use fear (sometimes softened with humor) to get you to think of what might happen.
It’s why many companies are clarifying their corporate values and aligning with causes they believe matter to their most of their customers, sometimes losing customers along the way.
It’s why tapping into the real anxieties and self-image of women has Dove delivering a viral phenomenon.
What are the primary motivators of human beings and which ones does your brand engage directly? Understanding which emotional trigger to pull is central to aligning your brand and instigating motivation within target customers.
A note on humor: Humor is a tried and true creative tactic for getting people to pay attention. It’s great for building awareness, and in the right context can grow affinity. But I’m not so convinced that humor is the most effective tool for motivating a consumer or B2B customer to change deeply ingrained habits. Most of the time that requires tapping into an emotional trigger that is more sustainable and applicable to the hard work of change.
So what’s your personal motivation as a marketing or business leader? Why are you reading this blog post? Is it an unselfish desire to bring success to your team? Is it an innate desire to be the best you can be? Are you after a promotion?
At Mythology, we really enjoy working with senior executives and marketing teams who are fired up, who have an innate ambition to grow and succeed. After all, without that motivation, why bother with the difficult task of transforming how you do marketing with a more effective marketing system?
Reading The Knowing-Doing Gap was one of the motivations for launching Mythology. Through the application of the Ten Pillars of Meaningful Marketing, we seek to help organizations apply marketing best practices more intelligently and consistently in order to reach their goals. We don’t just want to help you know better marketing; we want to help you do it. Witnessing the excitement of team members who embrace an “A ha!” moment of strategic clarity and then seeing it work in the marketplace…Well, we get excited about that!
If you’re a motivated marketer, let’s talk. I’ll bet we get even more excited discussing the possibilities.