You’ve come to a crossroads … a watershed moment where you decide that it’s best to change up your marketing. Maybe you plan to employ a new strategy.
Maybe you want to try a new delivery vehicle for your message, and have decided to move from a passive medium like newspaper to an intrusive medium like radio.
But what’s the best way to tackle such a change?
Tom Wanek, here, and you’re watching Wizard Marketing TV, where business owners learn persuasive tools and techniques to spark miraculous growth.
Be sure to watch this episode, and I’ll explain how to ensure a smooth transition when making big, sweeping changes to your brand.
In his New York Times best-seller, Predictably Irrational, psychologist, Dan Ariely, recounts his experience as a burn patient.
Each day, hospital nurses removed Ariely’s bandages—which covered 70% of his body—ripping them off to “minimize” the pain.
Ariely began to wonder if this method was best. He argued with his nurses … pleaded with them that removing the bandages more slowly would be less painful.
Still, the nurses insisted that faster was better.
That experience haunted Ariely. Later, as a psychology student, he conducted several research studies to test his theory that slower was better.
What did Ariely learn?
He was right, and the nurses were wrong. See, pain is a factor of intensity—not duration. Ariely’s pain wouldn’t have been nearly as intense had his nurses removed his bandages with slow and gentle movements.
You’ve been told that the best way to remove a bandaid is to do so quickly, right? Just man-up and “rip the damn thing off.”
Marketers often take this same “tear it off” approach when making major marketing and advertising decisions. I see it all the time.
When switching mediums, some advertisers do so abruptly—yanking all their advertising dollars out of one medium and placing it into another.
But how about transitioning when the stakes are even higher?
Maybe you’re considering moving your company from direct response marketing—where you ask customers for an immediate sale—to a long-term branding strategy where the goal is win you customer’s heart long before she needs your product.
Again, the knee-jerk reaction is to make this change quickly like tearing off a band-aid. No need to suffer. Let’s just get it over with.
But just as Dan Ariely experienced, this approach actually causes more pain—not less.
Just ask Ron Johnson, former CEO of JCPenney.
Johnson was hired in November, 2011 to rescue the drowning retailer. This was a big, bold move for JCPenney.
See, Johnson was the guy behind Apple’s successful retail stores, as well as the merchandising efforts that elevated Target’s image beyond that of just an upscale K-Mart.
Johnson was a “retail” rock star.
So now, he was given the enormous task of de-frumping JCPenney.
Johnson kick things off with bold and sweeping changes. He changed the store’s logo, culture, merchandise, layout and decor, employee pay structure—and most ambitious of all—its pricing.
Make no mistake, this was a total re-branding effort. From sole to crown, JCPenney would be transformed … overnight.
Yes, Johnson tore the band-aid off. But customers and shareholders simply could not stomach the pain. Sales fell 28% during Johnson’s troubled tenure. And on April 8th, 2013, he received his walking papers.
While there were many missteps responsible for Johnson’s failed attempt to transform JCPenney, perhaps the biggest of all was trying to swallow the whole damn thing all at once instead of breaking the transformation down into chewable chunks.
It’s often best to tackle change slowly … allowing you, your staff and your customers time to breathe … time to gather momentum.
Otherwise you run the risk of becoming frustrated, or worse, throwing in the towel before you see any results.
For example, when moving from one advertising medium to another, it’s often a good idea to gradually step down your commitment.
Maintain a small presence in the medium your moving FROM—at least until you begin harvesting the seeds planted in your new advertising medium.
Likewise, you’re gonna need whole lotta of faith, patience and perseverance when switching from event-driven marketing to a long-term branding campaign.
Avoid changing your marketing “religion” all at once.
Use a passive medium like newspaper to advertise your sales events while you continue to leverage your broadcast ads to build long-term brand awareness.
Remember, it’s best to take things slow and steady. Too many companies try and tackle big transitions like these all at once, only to reverse course later because the pain became far too great … far too intense.
So again, tear the band-aid off slowly … get it? Got it? Good.
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