How Does Your Audience Act? (Episode 4 of Mindset)

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When Steve Jobs gave us smartphones he tapped into something huge. Not the the world of angry birds or candy crush. He tapped into the power of behavior. He saw us with a phone in one pocket, MP3 player in another and a blackberry in another. He knew he wouldn’t have to change the behavior of a group of fanatics to sell his product. He didn’t have to re-educate anyone that what they were doing was wrong or needed to change. He just made what we were  already doing, easier to do.

This is huge. Knowing  how your fanatics act is a key to building your influence. You need to know if you are going to have to intercept what they already do and divert that behavior, or make what they do easier.  Does your song show up when they search itunes, or do they have to go to your website to hear it? Are they already browsing websites for music or will you have to talk them into acting that way, in order to hear you? Here is a tip, changing behavior is soooo hard, expensive and takes a long, long time, while making an existing behavior easier, is well, easy.

How long did it take you or your friends to start using smart phones? For me it was about a year from when I saw my friend Nates phone for the first time, until I got my own.

But I was already carrying a phone, using a GPS in my car and checking the weather in the morning. The phone just made something I was already doing, easier. Now, (if you’re old enough) how long did it take most of your friends to start using email? When email came out most people weren’t using computers all day. For me to go to a computer, sign up for an account, learn how it worked, find out if the other person had email and then send it, it was easier, for me, to just send a letter. It took me about 10 years to convert to email, because I had to change my behavior to make it happen, where in the case of the smart phone, I just had to change the device.

So how an audience acts, thinks or believes is so important if youre starting something new, but its also important to keep an eye on after you’ve begun.

(Listen to the show here.)

Heres why. 

When Krispey Kreme studied their audience they began to find a group of people disenfranchised with carbs, heart dieasease and obesity Their reaction was close stores. They didn’t give their faithful fanatics an option. They said, “we sell sugar and carbs and if you don’t like it, you can leave.” And so they did. But, at the same time as the mass exodus from Krispey Kreme, General Mills, who also sold sugar and carbs in the form of breakfast cereal saw the backlash from Atkins (another product serving a group of fanatics) and they acquiesced. They started making their cereal from whole grain and today General Mills still sells mountains of cereal, while Krispey Kreme has almost vanished.

Keep your finger on the pulse of your fanatics, never give up on your purpose, but be ready to adjust to serve the people who love you.

So, are the people who’ve you chosen to serve completely changing their behavior to use your thing, or are you just re-routing them to something better? Is your message, “I’m worth going out of the way for,” or is it, “I’m better than what you are already doing, and I already fit into your life?” Both are okay, but re-training people is really hard and really expensive.

Selling a new brand of liquor to alcoholics, who are already buying liquor is easy. It’s just a matter of product placement, pricing, labeling etc. The alcoholic is already looking for a drink. But, training them to choose a new drink that they will have to chew, and is shelved in the refrigerator of the supermarket is really hard.

And they do have a drink you have to chew called a cement mixer and it’s disgusting.

Once you know how your audience will intercept your offering, you have to understand how that offering will diffuse through the population, which leads us to The Law of Diffusion of Innovation. This explains how new ideas spread thorogh a population and tells us only 16% of the population wakes up looking for something new. This 16% is made of innovators and early adopters. These people want new, shiny and different. The problem is that after they discover you, you aren’t new anymore, so they aren’t interested.

Your idea has to spread to the next 34% who are called the early majority, but they don’t want new, they want tried and trusted. Which means you either have to change your marketing and just the right time, or bake something into your offering that both groups want.

 

As Nolan Bushnell drove into Silicone Valley, he told his wife that he planned to own a company within two years. Even thought he wan’t sure what that company would be, or how his experience as a carney (You know, step right up, toss a ring a win a pony type of carney)  would help.

But, with $500 he began.

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He hired a man named Al Alcorn to make an M.V.P., or  minimum viable product that would help launch him into business. It was supposed to be a throw away item that the team could make fast and easy, just to get started. When the product was finished, Nolan introduced it in two places. One was to the buyers at Balleys. He hoped to jump into the middle of the pond and swim, rather than wade out slowly, and with Balley’s distribution, they could make Nolans dream come true.

But, Balleys wasn’t interested. The new product didn’t fit the model of what they knew to work. They had a formula and Nolan and Al had broken the formula. So, rejected Nolan began his flight home, to explain to the team that his meeting hadn’t gone well.

But on the way home he got a phone call from Al, explaining that the new product had another problem.

Because the other place they had introduced the product was in a bar down the street, and the problem was that the game was so popular, patrons had over-filled the coin box. The game wouldn’t play because it was too full of money! As it turns out, Balleys was wrong about the formula. They just knew that, in the world of coin operated games there had to be a one-player option of a game, for the two-player version to work. When Nolan pitched the game Pong to them, without the one-player option, they laughed.

But the innovators and early adopters at the bar didn’t. They loved Pong and helped launch Nolan Bushnell little $500 company, Atari into the stratosphere. It’s hard to believe that the company that started the home-gaming revolution, hired and trained a young Steve Jobs and changed the childhood of millions of kids, was laughed at by one of the biggest gaming companies of the time.

The mistake Nolan made was trying to skip the first 16% of the population. They are the people who tell the early majority that it’s okay to play a two-player game without a one-player option, they are the ones who show the masses that a digital game with two lines and ball is fun and they are the people who tell the world that a pizza place, with a rat for a mascot is a good place to eat.

When Chuck E. Cheese started, the owner wanted a mascot. So he bought what he thought was a coyote costume. After his team had  animated it, they explained to him that it was a rat! That didn’t stop the franchise from launching in a small warehouse to the public. They didn’t begin to franchise until after the first 16% became fans. They didn’t make the same mistake Atari had by trying to skip the innovators and early adopters.

Maybe that’s because the creator of Chuck E. Cheese is,

Nolan Bushnell.

Thats right, the same guy that gave us Space Invaders built the place, “where a kid can be a kid.” But, with Chuck E. Cheese he didn’t try to skip the super important, first 16% of the population, like he did with Pong.

And by the way, if Nolan Bushnell can change the world twice, you can do it once!

Start!!

You can’t skip the early adopters and innovators in this curve because the early majority is waiting for the early adopters to prove your product to them. But you have to bake in the newness of the offering, and the proven trustiness from the beginning. If you start out with only new and innovative, it won’t make it past the first 16% of the population. If you go with trusted and proven, the innovators and early adopters won’t like it. It needs both, like this pod course.

I’ve done something new by creating a “pod course.” I talk about new businesses and people you have never heard of. This isn’t an accident. This is for you innovators and early adopters. This is the new and shiny part of my creation.

But, I also discuss companies like Atari, Apple and Nike. Proven and tested topics for the early majority to love.

Baked into this creation are the seeds of diffusion.

Your thing will spread, as long as you know what these different groups are looking for, and give it to them.

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