Whether or not we like to admit it, we are all creatures of habit. Sure, sometimes we can get over it and change things up a bit, but one of two things typically happens:
1. We revert to our old, familiar ways
2. The new approach becomes our new habit
I remember taking a night course several years ago. Maybe it’s a holdover from our school days, but as anyone knows who has taken a night course, most people (all people) tend to find their seat and that becomes “their’ seat for the rest of the course.
So for this course, I thought I’d try something different, partly as a social experiment and partly to make an effort to interact with different people during the course.
This particular course held classes twice per week. On the evening of the first lesson, we all found our spots and took our seats. Of course, the first meeting of any type is one that is primarily introductory in nature; everyone is just getting a bit familiar with meeting and greeting each other.
The next class was two days later. I arrived and chose a different seat than the first class. This was pretty much unnoticed, which was not a surprise since it was only the second class.
The first class of the following week, I once again changed my seat. This time, a couple of people noticed, but it was still largely ignored.
The next class I changed my seat again. Now I was getting some attention. You could see the puzzlement on a few faces, wondering why I just wasn’t staying put in one place.
By the next class, when I changed my seat again, most people in the class were noticing. It is worth pointing out here that no one else had changed their seat; everyone else was dutifully going to the seat that they had chosen on day one.
During the break, I actually had a couple of people ask me why I was moving around the classroom. I replied that I thought it was a good way to get to know and to interact with different people in the class. The response was largely that of acceptance, but it didn’t serve to move anyone outside of their comfort zone.
At this point, I had accomplished my purpose with the experiment and settled into one seat for the remainder of the course.
What did the experiment teach me?
Well, several things, actually. Keep in mind that my observations are generalities, and that I do recognize that there exists a small minority of people to whom these generalities do not always apply.
• People are creatures of habit
• People are reluctant to change old habits
• People react with some level of suspicion to change, or something they see as ‘out of the ordinary’
Some of these observations are not necessarily negatives. Structure and order, in some measure, are important to the maintenance of personal equilibrium and societal harmony.
But given that this was a course on marketing and public relations, I was surprised at how few people in the class were comfortable with something that was ‘out of the box’.
This all took place about 20 years ago.
Twenty years ago, the internet was in its infancy. Email was new, and social media didn’t exist. Technological changes over the past two decades have created a huge paradigm shift, and forced many people outside of their comfort zone.
Marketing is a creative process. People have to be willing to look outside of their ‘normal’ sometimes, to see how to capture and retain the imagination of their clients and prospects, especially with the ever-evolving face of technology.
But marketing is also a very strategic process. Understanding the needs and wants of your clients and prospects, resolving them, and building relationships based on these criteria is essential when developing and implementing any marketing plan.
Are you stuck in your same old box, or are you stepping outside and offering your clients and prospects what they need and want. Hanging around in your comfort zone could prove to be hazardous to your business’s health!
Until next time…
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