“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”
– Ralph Nader
Success in business and life is dependent on many factors. “Timing,” they say, “is everything.” “The early bird gets the worm.” My personal favorite is “You must be present to win!” No, this is not about a contest, drawing or a raffle although there is a prize. The prize is an understanding of key differences in motivational strategies. That’s right. We’re going to talk about motivation. Talking about motivation is well, uh, sort of de-motivating for some. For others, talking about motivation is truly motivating. Why is that?
Of course, it is important that we know how to motivate ourselves and, as managers and leaders, how to motivate others. As marketing and sales people, we need to motivate customers to come to our businesses to buy our products and services. Successful marketers need to know a lot about motivation. Let’s go now “behind the curtain,” to reveal a key secret of marketing and motivation.
In 1981 Rodger Bailey, a Canadian researcher, developed an assessment tool called the Language and Behavior Profile. Bailey found that, regardless of how people answered his well-designed questions, their unconscious personality patterns were revealed in the structure of the language they used. By paying attention to how a person answered, instead of what they said, he could determine what triggered and maintained a person’s motivation! Further, once they got the pattern, they could craft a message using language that had maximum impact for that person.
An example. Recall a situation where someone speaking another language was attempting to get an idea across to you. It’s likely you attempted to make sense of what they said by translating it into words that you understood. When you hear words or terms that you immediately understand, you don’t have to do the internal translation. You just get it. You and your communication partner are “speaking the same language.”
What did Mr. Bailey’s research turn up that could help us to be better marketers, managers, leaders and sales people? Simply that people have different motivational strategies. Turns out the carrot only works for about 40% of us. That is, 40% of us are motivated TOWARD what we want. In fact, the stick is de-motivating for this group. Approximately 40% of us are motivated by an AWAY FROM strategy. These folks put their attention on what they don’t want, and then move away from it. And about 20% of us are motivated by both toward and away-from strategies.
For example, if I were selling financial planning, about 40% of clients would be motivated to buy because they want to avoid the consequences of not having enough money to retire. The 40% with toward strategies might buy to travel the world or leave a legacy. The 20% in the middle? They may choose a well-diversified portfolio that can take advantage of a bull market while not risking everything.
Now let’s say that your role is selling, or leading, or managing in your company. What is your motivation strategy? Many of us in these roles will be biased in the toward direction. We like to “go for it.” The problem comes when we behave as if everyone around us is also (or should be) motivated by a toward strategy. Perhaps you know clients or employees or, dare we say, family members who are more likely to be motivated by their fears.
Those motivated by toward language are more likely to respond to words such as: “attain, obtain, have, get, include, and achieve.” Those with an away from strategy will most likely find “avoid, steer clear of, not have, get rid of, exclude, away from” more compelling language.
Consider how important this is when writing copy for advertising, brochures, web site, billboards, and other media. Are your customers motivated more toward or away from? Are the benefits of your product or services more toward or away from? Are you pro-active or re-active? Are the employees you need to motivate pro-active or re-active? These are important questions to address if you are to be an effective motivator.
By the way, this is only one of 13 motivational patterns that emerged from Mr. Bailey’s research. You can find the other 12 at www.PerfectingTheProcess.com. Go there only if you desire to sharpen your motivational expertise OR if you want to avoid the fear of not being as knowledgeable as your competitors.
Anne Wardand Bob Sandidge, founders of CreativeCore Media. in Algonquin, IL are marketing and media consultants who are motivated by teaching clients to overcome the marketing myths that are keeping them and their businesses from unbounded success. AnneBob@CreativeCore.com
Originally Published in the June 2006 - McHenry County Business Journal
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