Unexpected Chains Of Events
The other day I had one of those nights where things end up much different than you planned. I figured it be a night when you start off thinking you are going to go out, grab a bite to eat, maybe watch a few play of the game on TV at your local sports bar over a beer or two and call it a night. Sometimes, despite not having any plans on a Saturday, it still feels good to hit the sack early on Friday.
But, thirteen hours after my night had started, things didn’t look like they were going to slow up any bit. In fact, they seemed like they were just getting started.
I used to work with this guy that kept a religious schedule when it came to sleeping. He would wake up early during the weekday, and he was a subscriber to the idea of never sleeping in, even one minute later than normal, on the weekends. He thought that would completely ruin his sleep pattern, and make it much more difficult to “catch up” if he cheated.
I suppose that makes sense, but all that willpower you can seemingly muster every morning when the alarm goes off just isn’t there on a Saturday. I mean what’s wrong with hitting the snooze a few times?
Keeping a strict, routine, predictable schedule is important to a lot of people. I know folks who have gone to the same restaurant for years and only order on or two things. To them ordering even a different dessert is a stretch. There is plenty of marketing data that clearly indicates, as we get older, they are much less flexible in their thinking. For companies that rely on brand loyalty, that is a good thing.
But for new companies, or companies that are trying to launch a new product that is targeted toward an older market, this can be quite a tough sell. The trick is to make it seem like by choosing the new product, they will be holding fast to their old beliefs and habits.
This isn’t as hard as it seems at first, as it all gets back to your ability to leverage criteria. Many people have a criterion of familiarity. All you need to do is convince them of all the things about this new product that they are already familiar with, and it will make the decision to switch products, or start using a new product that much easier.
There has been a lot of research done that whatever it is that we value in any particular thing is not only largely subjective, but internally generated as well. The actual object, obviously, is not internally generated, but the feelings and ideas and beliefs we have about the object are. Recent studies have shown brain scans which suggest that up to 40% of ALL of our perceptions of the world are internally generated. That is we perceive something with one or more of our senses, and our brains only detect enough of whatever it is to fire off an internal memory of that particular object. Then the internal memory is referenced as much as possible. Just like a huge memory cache, in order to save on neural processing speed.
We take our brains for granted, but twenty percent of our energy goes to keeping our brains active. That’s a lot of energy, so it makes sense to have some kind of built in system to maximize its efficiency.
So if you’d like to convince somebody that something that they’ve never seen before is actually quite familiar to them, you just need to figure out what their criteria are for that particular thing. It’s just matter of developing enough rapport to be able to elicit sufficient information regarding that internal representation, of whatever it is, and then showing them that the new object fits that representation just as well, or even better, than the old one.
When I used to sell cars, I was amazed at how well some of the salespeople would “switch” customers from the car they thought they wanted, to one that was available. And it wasn’t any kind of strong-arm persuasion tactic. I sat in, as a trainee, on some of these conversations between salesperson and customer. It was almost as if the salesperson was simply helping the customer come to the conclusion that the other car (the one they were “switched” to) was actually a much better choice for them. And they always allowed the customer to believe that it was all their decision, and the salesperson was just there to help them fill out the paperwork.
Personally, though, no matter how much I intellectually know that waking up at the same time every day makes much more sense, I still have developed sufficient willpower to go to sleep at the same time on a Friday night, let alone wake up at the same time on Saturday. Maybe I just need to persuade myself that waking up early on Saturday fulfills the same criteria as staying up late on Friday, so I can get some better sleep on the weekends.
But by the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, and I realized that I was going on more than twenty four hours without any sleep, the fact we were all at the amusement park with those foreign exchange students let met to pretty much give up on anything turning out normal that weekend. My two drinks and make it an early night had gone down in serious flames, and I had given in to the energy of the moment. And what happened after that was what really made me realize something needed to be done.
But that is for another story.
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