Advertising and communications agencies are agents of change.  As should be Marketing personnel.  We try to get potential customers to think of the products or services we are selling in new and different ways.  To do it, we have to upset the equilibrium that already exists and people don’t generally like that equilibrium upset.

Someone once said everyone thinks changes is great, but just not for them.  We also see a lot of NIMBY (Not in my back yard) attitude where people endorse change, just not for them or near them.

Recently I was reminded of how strong this feeling is when I visited an island.  It is a well-known one (I will leave it anonymous, but it looks like this) and has a year round population of about 15,000.  Seasonally it goes up to 100,000.  So, economic opportunities are quite limited on the island.  You would expect that the youth would have to leave to gain better opportunities.

We were at the reunion of a high school class and I asked one of the people how many of the grads had left the island.  The fellow said half of the class left upon graduation.  But then half of those returned to the island.  So in total, 75% of the grads ended up back on the same island with limited prospects.

This is quite typical.  People would rather stay comfortable on their islands and not take advantage of opportunities.  Island life is safer.  Not so risky.  As a point of reference, the Travellers Club was founded in London in 1819 with a qualification to have travelled only 500 miles from London.  Not so far by today’s standards but there were still few who qualified as a traveller.

This “stay where you are mentality” relates directly to advertising and marketing efforts if we want to change attitudes and behaviours.

While we all make choices, few of us are risk takers.  That is why few are innovators.  They try stuff, and if it works, then early adopters follow along and then the rest of us.

Marketers have to understand how hard it is to get people to try their products.  If you build a better mousetrap, they will not beat a road to your door.  They will sit at home and complain about the mice.

So marketers have to risk getting out of their comfort zone and take risks to gain trial.

And consider that you can make very aggressive offers. If your product has a short purchase cycle, once you change their habits, if your product is good, it will become an island your customers will live on for quite a while.

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