Do you know Mike?

Lisa Schmidt

Some business owners consider marketing just another business expense, but it is an art as well as math and science. Marketing blends information and knowledge from behavioral sciences with numbers associated to communication. When we know how to communicate, we can strategically motivate, modify or reinforce shopper or client perceptions, beliefs, attitudes and behavior.

As Mike’s consumer behavior is habitual, so too is the behavior of many business owners when it comes to marketing. So what can we do? Marketers should have three habit-related tools in their marketing tool-box:

Tool #1 – the habit breaker

To get Mike to break an existing purchase habit and start purchasing from you, it’s necessary to get him to stop buying the habitual brand and to try a new one. The best way to incentivize a shopper or client to try a different product or service is to give away a sample or have a contest to introduce the idea of your product with the idea that at least one winner will receive the product or service. You can also announce something new, give limited-time savings, and/or hold a grand opening or celebration.

Tool #2 – the habit called desire:

To get Mike to desire or acquire the habit of buying a new brand or trying a new establishment, it’s best to place a reminder in all marketing, especially advertising that early action creates greater satisfaction. Using an action verb in a tag is a key. Look through your VBJ – look for words like think, sign up, turn, go. Often we are compelled to simply describe. Use action instead to create desire.

Tool #3 – the habit reinforcer

To keep Mike as a habitual purchaser or client, it’s important to reinforce his behavior each time he uses your product or service. If there are long time periods in your business between product or service experiences, it is a great idea to remind them that you appreciate them as a customer. Advertising, thank you notes and telephone calls are important in long-decision cycled products or services.

Another area that should be considered when it comes to the customer’s attitude toward your product or service: external or environmental influences. We are all influenced by the community in which we live. Social class, leaders whose opinions we value and the groups we identify with not only affect our views, but our product and service decisions.

The interest in Mike’s behavior should come from the desire to find a more effective way to communicate. If one customer has more than 20 percent of your business, you may be in trouble if that customer goes out of business or decides to use a competitor. Find others, because the economy is uncertain and no one has a crystal ball.

In uncertain times, most people focus of how to save money, decrease costs or get more value for the dollar they spend. That said, your message to them must communicate how they can save money by using your product or service. And don’t forget to get to know your Mike!

Lisa Schmidt is a marketing communications strategist. She can be reached at or 360.635.7321.

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