Sunday, December 2, 2012

So You Think You Know The 80–20 Rule?

man frustratedDo you want to motivate others to change behavior? Are you frustrated that your children, students, employees … aren’t moved to action by your crystal clear messages. Perhaps there is a lesson in the following 80-20 story found in “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard”, by Chip and Dan Heath:

A local car wash ran a promotion featuring loyalty cards. Every time customers bought a car wash, they got a stamp on their cards, and when they filled up their cards with eight stamps, they got a free wash.

Another set of  customers at the same car wash got a slightly different loyalty card. They needed to collect ten stamps (rather than eight) to get a free car wash—but they were given a “head start.” When they received their cards, two stamps had already been added.

carwash

The “goal” was the same for both sets of customers: Buy eight car additional car washes, get a reward. But the psychology was different: In one case, you’re 20 percent of the way toward a goal., and in the other case, you’re starting from scratch. A few months later, only 19 percent of the eight-stamp customers had earned a free wash, versus 34 percent of the head-start group. (And the head-start group earned the free wash faster.)

At the conclusion of your lectures do the recipients have a clear understanding of where they need to go? Absolutely! Now for the important question. How often do they get there? Not as often as I’d like. If the target of your message does not feel like he or she is part of the way there at the conclusion of your discussion then perhaps that is one of the problems. In the story above, having customers feel like they were 20% of the way to the desired destination, resulted in 80% more of them getting there (and doing so more quickly).

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