How to change behaviour in 7 steps

1 – Knowledge. In a study carried out by the Transport Studies Unit at Oxford Uni, it was found that those most reliant on using their car alone had the least knowledge about the alternatives!

‘Knowledge is power’.  And in this instance giving your audience the knowledge, gives you more power to influence a change in their behaviour.

To do: Make sure your audience is aware of the problems; for example parking pressures or rising fuel costs.

2 – Promote the need to change. Whilst your audience at this stage knows the problems of driving alone, they have not considered what they can do to solve them.

Every individual has motivational factors that influence their behaviour, whether intrinsic, extrinsic or both. The key is to use these factors to make people ‘want to change’. For example, if I am motivated by the removal of parking frustrations in the morning – use that as the key message in your promotion to me.

How do you know what your audience is motivated by?  Ask them!

To do: Undertake an internal survey/questionnaire or simply go around and talk to people to find out what it is that motivates them. Use what you find as key messages in your marketing/communications to encourage change.

3 – Perception of options. Your audience now understand the problem and are motivated to change. It’s time to tell them their options. What can they do?

To do: Lay their options out in front of them; public transport, car-sharing, cycling, etc. 

4 – Persuade. You assume if they decide to change their behaviour and have options, they will. But it’s not that simple! Actions are determined by our environment.

Choosing to change behaviour in the midst of the wrong environment is setting them up for a fall – change the environment to meet their desired behaviour and there is a greater chance of success.

So they know car-sharing is an option, but why exactly would they choose this over other options available to them – how can you make it easy for them to decide? Why not provide comparisons between the options, based on their motivation, to help sway their decision. For example, if one of their key motivations is to save money – compare what they can save car-sharing against driving alone or using public transport.

Not only that, look at their environment. How can you adapt it to make car-sharing the right choice? How about offering incentives to pull them in the car-sharing direction? For example, car-sharing bays so parking frustrations are avoided.

To do: Consider the comparisons and incentives you can provide and promote, that align with the motivations identified in step 2.

5 – Initiate action. It’s time to make it as simple as possible to implement the behaviour they have decided upon.

Why not send the registration link directly to individuals’ inboxes or hold an on-site event withliftshare? Perhaps put out a timed incentive; ‘sign up before xxxxx and receive xxxxx’ – anything that promotes a timely action.

To do: Consider the most effective means for initiating action with your audience and contactliftshare if you need help!

6 – Experimental behaviour. The individual has signed up to the scheme and is giving it a go, but it doesn’t stop here I’m afraid. The 7th step is one of the most important in order to cement the new behaviour and not see individuals revert back to old habits.

To do: Give yourself a pat on the back for getting this far and changing behviours, but move to step 7 quickly!

7 – Reinforcement. The key to forming any new behaviour/habit is reminding the individual why they are doing it and the positive effects it is having. This way they will keep it up and eventually the behaviour will become habitual.

To do: Reinforce the savings they are making, the C02 they are reducing, the parking problems they are avoiding, etc. Communicate through email, an internal magazine/newsletter or face to face for example. Continue to provide incentives to show them that they have made the right choice. And finally keep your eyes open for liftshare’s ‘Tip of the Month’ which provides further help and guidance through the process. 

Author liftshare


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