The pizza tracker principle: Why we must be accountable for what we ask customers to do

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Claire Knapp is a Senior Planner at HAVAS LYNX. Claire undertakes strategic and tactical planning to help develop brand strategies; creating bespoke and tailored campaigns that match the needs and profiles of the audience and strategic objectives of the brand.

No one likes waiting. We are a culture driven by instant gratification through impulsive behaviour. Why would I wait for two doughnuts when I can have one right now?

We could blame digital — it has never been quicker or easier to get answers, food, clothes, messages, accommodation, love…the list is endless. But really, even before digital, no one liked waiting.

But, every day we do wait. And the important point to note is that we wait more patiently, when we know what we are waiting for. If I tell you to stand in a queue for three hours, you are unlikely to. If I tell you there is £1m in it for you, I imagine that queue becomes considerably more tempting.

Constantly and with little thought, we make the decision to wait or not, based on a fine balance between the length of the wait and the reward at the end. If for some reason, I do not have access to know either one of these factors, suddenly I become far less inclined to wait.

This concept of length of wait and reward translates quite cleanly into two parts: what do you want me to do and why should I do it? I will not change my behaviour unless you tell me how you want me to change and most importantly, why I should change at all.

Previously, in my blog on changing behaviours I delve slightly more into the knack of creating positive behaviour changes. But just for now, I would like to focus in on how this principle applies to brands and marketing.

To go back to the title: ‘pizza tracker principle’. It stems from Dominos — they break down the steps of creating a pizza and visually display it to the customer. In doing so, they make the pain of waiting much more bearable — I know what I am waiting for, I understand how long I will need to wait and I am clear on how far through that wait I am.

The idea of demonstrating progress is frequently implemented into digital initiatives, particularly apps. When something is loading you will usually see a percentage tracker or an explanation of what is loading. This is basic UX.Yet, when it comes to marketing, too often we fail to explain ourselves to customers. We must be descriptive and accountable for what we ask of people. We cannot expect our customers to wait, act, behave differently unless we clearly explain why we are asking them to do it.

Right at the beginning of developing a brand strategy we often use behaviour maps to pair the needs of a brand to the needs of a customer. If you’re not familiar with behaviour maps, start by looking at what the customers current beliefs or behaviours are (customer-focused) and map each one of these through to the desired behaviours and beliefs (brand-focused). Communication or customer objectives are the actions and changes we require the customer to undergo in order to reach our desired outputs.

But how often do we sit down and think about why should the customer change their behaviour, what effort does it require from them and what reward do they earn in exchange? And how clear are we on each of those factors. Unless we deliver an alluring value proposition clearly laid out for our customers we cannot be surprised when they do not jump at the chance of breaking or forming habits.

So how do we develop more enticing behaviour change for our customers? Well, let’s start by looking at what shapes our actions and beliefs to begin with. For Plato, behaviour is driven by three key sources: desire, emotion and knowledge. I am more than willing to agree with any student of Socrates, so let us examine these a little further.

“Human behavior flows from three main sources:
desire, emotion, and knowledge.” 
Plato

Desire

We are all driven by desire, be it inside or outside of a professional setting, our wants are often our biggest motivators. Sometimes these desires are painfully personal to individual customers and sometimes there is commonality.

Ask yourself how do your customers want to be perceived by their peers? What is their ambition? What is the thing they want the most? Look for overlap and themes of drivers. Segment your customers into these different themes of motivation (this will likely produce a different segmentation of customers than you began with).

The aim here is to understand what do your customers, or each segment of customer, want and how can your brand give it to them? This, in essence,becomes the reward.

Emotion

Emotional behaviours are often juxtaposed with rational behaviours, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. No doubt at some point or other, we have all been witness to our friends making dreadful mistakes at the whims of their emotions. The expression “go with your heart, not your head” is shockingly overused as an excuse to defy logic.

And it is not just positive emotions that drive us, guilt can be a huge contributor too. How many times have we done things we didn’t really want to because we didn’t want to let someone else down?

For marketing, of course we want to develop positive emotional connections with customers. Without this emotional story, our justification for change will seem empty, regardless of how we implore our customers to behave. These can be personal emotions (change for the good of you) or social emotions (change for the good of someone else). Increasingly we are seeing altruistic emotions drive behaviour. But either way, it is emotions that define why our customers should change their behaviour.

Knowledge

Knowledge and power have long flirted with one another, entwined in quotes and reality for centuries. But for me, this is possibly the weakest contributor in this scenario. The knowledge of how to change is nothing without the motivation to make that change; motivation triggered almost exclusively by desire and emotion.

Perhaps I am looking at it too naively, and I certainly am not saying it is insignificant. Without a clear description of what the change is and how to make this change, we will always be unsuccessful in driving behaviour change among our customers.

Really, we must successfully and effectively combine all three: desire, emotion and knowledge to create a compelling proposition to our customers. It is something integral to the completion of our brand strategy, yet sometimes overlooked. Every day we try desperately to change how our customers act, what they believe and how they talk, but without considering these aspects we are unlikely to be successful.

We must always explain our actions and make it as transparent as possible as to how we want our customers to change (knowledge), why they should do it (emotions) and what value they receive by completing the change (desire). Ultimately, we have to change our own behaviours and approach to brand strategy, before we can expect our customer to change as well.

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