1. Give people some incentive
First and foremost you need to get inside people’s heads and get a real understanding of why people behave the way they do. Simply telling people to change or giving them the information and expecting them to act on it is unlikely to produce any sustainable behaviour change if you don’t consider the benefits people derive from behaving that way in the first place. People do things the way they do because they enjoy it that way or it makes their life easier in some way.
Whether consciously or not, people always analyse the benefits vs. the drawbacks before making any sort of change in their life. Through understanding this and using a consumer-centred approach you will be able to design a campaign that focuses on an exchange that the target audience will value.
Short-term vs. long-term benefits
The Department of Health’s Five a Day campaign failed to achieve any significant change in behaviour (vegetable consumption in 2008 actually fell by 11% compared to the previous 5 years). The campaign focussing on long-term health benefits from eating 5-a-day rather than highlighting short-term as well as long-term benefits, which are more valued by the target audience.
In contrast, a campaign launched in the US to reduce pollution levels in Chesapeake Bay, cleverly focused on locally valued short-term benefits to achieve success. Years of eco-based campaigning to encourage people to use less fertilisers on their lawns failed to achieve any effective behaviour change and so they adopted a new approach by looking at the issue from the audience’s perspective. Rather than focusing on long term environmental benefits they honed in on the short-term benefit of saving a local delicacy, the blue crab from extinction. They even injected a little humour into it with the slogan “Save the crabs, then eat ‘em!”.