Hands-down, big advertisers are the masters of behavioral change. Case in point – they are said to have doubled mid-century shampoo sales by simply printing “rinse, repeat” on the bottles.
Today, advertising involves vacuuming up the massive digital breadcrumbs people leave behind on every click, scan and keystroke, and crunching through mind-numbing algorithms to determine which ads to spew forth on your screen next. Yet, underlying all that tech is still the old-school advertiser’s formula that you can leverage on your next process change.
The secret formula? AIDA – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. If you want somebody to buy into your change, first make them aware of it, get them interested, and make them desire it to the point they take the action of “purchasing” it. How would that help you on a typical process improvement project?
Awareness: Starting in the planning stages you should be developing a communications plan that you execute through all the improvement steps. Do not wait until the end to “advertise” your project. People need to be exposed to your change multiple times before they really become aware of it.
Interest: When you build the business case for your process improvement, be sure to articulate your Vision (What’s in it for the user) and your Burning Platform (Bad things that happen if you don’t implement the change now). Use both of these in your communications to spark interest among your target audience.
Desire: Most purchasing decisions are said to be driven by emotion, even though we justify those decisions using logic. Granted, it’s hard to inject emotion into a new Invoicing process. But, if your new process will relieve pain that people are feeling, it’s easier to leverage that. Excitement is an emotion. At a minimum, ensure that all the people executing your communications exhibit the proper excitement. All else being equal, consumers tend to buy from people they like. Leverage that in terms of who you have doing the communicating for your project.
Action: Ask for the sale – this is your version of the “Buy Now” button. Ask your audience to engage in the new process – preferably in a non-threatening way. This may take the form of training, seeing a demo, participating in a pilot, attending a kickoff, etc. Even a micro-commitment such as signing a pledge or making an appointment to view a training video gets them started. Make it as easy as possible for people to follow the new process. (Simultaneously, make it hard for resistors to try to do things the old way.)