What Do People Care About Most?

New Zealand had a problem with introduced species decimating indigenous species. The domestic cat was causing the extinction of numerous bird populations. Biologists felt that something had to be done and launched a Public Awareness campaign to tell people to keep their cats indoors. What was the outcome? Birds continued to disappear at alarming rates and there was no behavioural change from cat owners. Why? The truth is that there was nothing “in it” for cat owners. Human behaviour dictates that we are more apt to change our behaviour when there is a reward involved.  Cat people didn’t benefit. In fact, most continued to deny that their cats even ate birds…really?

So the Government “think tank” went to work. How could they change their behaviour?  What would resonate with Cat Owners?  Well for one…Cats!  Their next move was to hire a Trusted Source to deliver a public message…the local Veterinarian. This time, the Vet went on TV and emphasized the importance of “protecting your cat” when outdoors. Always keep them on a leash to avoid being run over or lost. The result? Immediate turn around in the behaviour. Kitty must be kept safe….and the threatened bird population rebounded.

From a marketing perspective, I love how the new and creative paradigm resonated with the target audience. A classic case of indirect attack to achieve the results they were looking for.  If you too are struggling to get your message out, perhaps there is another way to reach your people? Grow your business by tweaking your message and ask “what does my target audience care most about?”

PS – Full disclosure…I own a cat and no cats were harmed in writing this newsletter

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