June 22, 2022

Start With Easy: Unlocking Opportunity With Behavior Design

Orange neon sign that spells out the word change

Devon Cross, Matthew Griffith, Jay Paramsothy

Impactful customer experiences are based on the principles of behavioral economics – a field of study we’ve been into for many years! (Check out our POV “Predictably Irrational” for an in-depth dive; but if you’re looking for a quick read, you’re in the right place.)

The standard pharma-marketing paradigm is to present information to motivate our audiences. We arrange the features and benefits of a product and hope that people will change how they think, and therefore, behave – all to the benefit of the brand.

However (as we see if we look at how science has been communicated throughout the pandemic, in particular), that simple path of “present information -> change mind -> change behavior” isn’t always followed.

Why not? Behavioral economics has the answer. It’s is predicated on the idea that our brains will usually default to the path of least resistance. Humans are wired for efficiency!

So how do we get better at changing behavior, then, if it’s not about getting better at presenting information so that we can motivate audiences to action?

It’s about “starting with easy.” You must make it simple for someone to take immediate action and embrace a new behavior.

What does this look like in practice? We all wish we had an “easy button” in life, but we don’t always stop to unpack what it really means. “Easy” is about finding a behavior that’s easy to remember, easy to choose, and easy to engage. Here are some examples, which we call “The Easy Ticket: Our 21 Fast Persuaders”:

Easy to remember:

  • Do it now
  • Scheduled
  • Characters
  • Celebrities
  • Vivid visuals
  • Distinctive melodies
  • Emotions

Easy to choose:

  • Simplicity
  • Comparisons
  • “Wow” reasons to believe
  • Social proof
  • Authority
  • Free
  • Defaults

Easy to engage:

  • Easy starts
  • Reserved for them
  • Personalized
  • Immediate rewards
  • Social rewards
  • Fun rewards
  • Fresh start

Another tool we use is the Fogg Behavior Model, which was designed by Stanford University professor BJ Fogg, the author of Tiny Habits, and explains how to design easy behaviors that will work by pinpointing when behavior happens.

You’ll do something when (1) you want to enough, (2) you’re sufficiently able, and (3) you’re properly prompted. Put another way, for a Behavior to occur, three things have to happen at the same time: Motivation, Ability, and Prompts. B=MAP. This means that the average brain will want to do what’s simple before it will want to do something that’s harder, even if it’s better.

Simply put: Easy beats better.

Here’s a real-life example. More Americans walk into Walmarts in one week than walk into hospitals in a whole year. This makes them a wonderful place where people could get necessary healthcare. So Walmart wanted to improve the usage of its online flu-shot scheduling tool. They used the B=MAP model to identify an easy trigger and, as a result, ran a campaign encouraging shoppers to send one friend one link to schedule a shot one time. This resulted a 30% gain in flu shots (and an MM&M award for the campaign).

This example shows us that behavior change isn’t necessarily about changing minds. It can be about getting someone to add one tiny behavior to their lives just once. And that can be more than enough.

Our strategists offer Behavior Design Workshops to craft “crispy” behaviors that drive behavior changes toward brand goals. Talk to your team to schedule yours!