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The Lily Pad Lesson: 4 ways to overcome apathy

Category: Blog & News

Without doubt, the problem I spend most time on with clients is how to overcome customer, staff and supplier apathy.

What to do when people just can't be bothered? How do you make them care? Do you need to?

So I've recorded what I call my "Lily Pad lesson" for you, in which I cover four ways to address apathy:
1.Motivate them -> but this is problematic
2.Reward their short-term bias
3. Use the "move away from" approach
4. Shape the environment -> the best in my experience


You might also find interesting:

  • The Lily Pad lesson builds on a previous clip on how to get people to take action, relating specifically to their "Capacity".
  • For more on what I mean by Apathy, check out my Behaviour Change Model.


Today I thought I would share with you what I call the lily pad lesson. What is the lily pad lesson? Four techniques to overcome I think what is the biggest hurdle when you're trying to get people to take action. Apathy.
They can't be bothered. What do you do about it? Let's hop to it.
Let's say our task is to get our frog here from lily pad A across to lily pad B. The strategy most marketers and business people use is to motivate them. If we make B look like the best lily pad in the world how can they stop? They will want to move to B. This is the best in the market! They'll never find a better offer! So let's go! This doesn't always work though, and this is why. We assume that once we motivate the frog they'll just leap straight over to B. The problem is motivation is not a stable state. What I mean by that is it often dips. Your customer, or the frog, will run out of puff so something that seemed like a good idea when you were talking with them suddenly, you know, yeah I can't really be bothered continuing. I found a better offer...You get the idea. In which case they either end up in the drink or they stay with lily pad A.
So the first strategy of course, let's motivate them about how good B is, but it's not always effective. Let's look at strategy number two.
With strategy number two we try and account for the decline in motivation by instead building in short term rewards along the way so that the motivation continues and is enough to get them from lily pad A to lily pad B. What do I mean? That means things like short term rewards, for instance. We're giving them a boost in between so that whilst their motivation starts to dip they've got another spark, another boost, to get them over the line and continue. For instance that might be sending customers that have left items in their shopping cart when motivation's declined a special offer so that they may resume that transaction.
So that's strategy number two; using short-term bias to drive results, making sure that we're paying attention to the invariable dip in their motivation.
So far our approach for getting our frog here from lily pad A to lily pad B is to be focusing on how good B is and supporting with motivation. What we can also do is make lily pad A undesirable so the frog will want to get away from A.
This is a "move away from" strategy using loss aversion, so what's the downside of A? Here we're focusing our customer on what's bad with the existing situation. If we talk about how unpalatable it is they'll be self motivated and want to move to B because they'll notice that living on lily pad A just isn't worth it anymore. I definitely should move to B.
The fourth and final strategy when we're trying to get our frog from lily pad A to lily pad B focuses on how we shape the environment. Now in our first couple of options we talked about maximizing motivation and supporting them with intermittent rewards. In option three we're talking about making A an inhospitable place, making the downsides obvious, but what we can also do is eliminate effort. Make it easy for the frog to move to lily pad B.
Rather than having to jump all that way it's actually very easy. In a banking environment for instance, if we're trying to get customers to move from their existing bank to our new bank, that would be something like "we'll take care of all of your direct debits so you don't have to do that".
Eliminate effort so it's much easier for your customer to move lily pads.
That was option four and in my experience the most effective strategy.