“How are you meeting your customer’s core psychological need for novelty?”
~ Debra Hilton
We Are Wired to Chase Novelty
Did you know that ‘shiny object syndrome’ is actuated by a core psychological and biological need?
Human beings are designed to crave novelty and to be aware of new things when they appear. This is partly a question of self-preservation. Back in pre-historic times, you needed to see danger and react quickly… Or else you become some animal’s lunch (or some person’s slave) – Oh, come to think of it, maybe not much has changed!
Anyway, my point is that the awareness of something new on the horizon and the desire to check it out are hard-wired into human brains and bodies. As a result, one of the reasons that people are so stressed these days is that we’re in a constant flight or fight state – not because of inherent danger, but because our response to novelty is so easily triggered. This means that we’ve developed a degree of addiction to that dopamine hit and all the other biological and chemical responses that come form exposure to novelty so we constantly crave more new things.
If you’re interested in exploring the science behind this brief statement you can read this paper on Neurotransmitters and Novelty, which explores far beyond the common realms of dopamine and choline production.
What Does this Mean for Your Marketing (and Your Business)?
Your clients get bored.
It’s a bit of a contradiction, because they want the positive aspects of your product or service to stay the same, but they also want new paths and frontiers to explore. Unfortunately, if you don’t give it to them (or you don’t give them enough of it) they’ll look elsewhere… Which is ok, but it brings with it the possibility that the new source of service or information will completely absorb their attention…
They will forget about you!
This means that you have a few choices to make:
- You can tailor your business so that it appeals to the small percentage of humans who love the comfort of familiarity and excellence and are willing to pay a premium for it;
- You can ignore the psychological reality and complain that your existing customers are slowly leaking away, and it’s hard to get new ones because people feel like they’ve ‘heard that before’;
- Rejig what you have, add new elements and freshen things up based on the: ‘universal principles, modern applications’ approach;
- Throw out what you’ve always done and find something completely new.
There are permutations and combinations of these four that are basically variations on the theme, but these are your core marketing and business options.
In case you haven’t already guessed, if your goal is a stable, financially-viable, future-proof business, I suggest that #1 or #3 are your best choices.
How Can You Meet the Need for Novelty without Dying of Exhaustion?
In one of my recent community emails, I highlighted some question you need to ask yourself as you review your business and consider how to meet your customers desire for novelty without killing yourself.
I won’t go into that here, but just highlight the importance of carefully considering how much novelty people see in your product and service offerings. There’s a very real possibility that if you’ve been doing and selling the same things for years your community is asking themselves whether you’re still on top of your material.
A friend of mine found that she was struggling to get enrolments for her (previously) best-selling coaching courses. They went from being booked solid weeks in advance to half-empty despite the fact that each group received an updated version of the material.
When she renamed the course and rebranded it, suddenly the groups were filled – often with past attendees who made comments like, “I can’t believe how much I’ve missed learning from you.” And “That was completely new material! Just what I needed to hear.”
It was the change of title and branding that attracted attention because my friend had been updating her material just as drastically for each session… It just wasn’t obvious to others.
The Truth is…
No matter how fascinating you are, your customers won’t know that anything is different unless you make it drastically obvious.
Subtle doesn’t cut it!
Dan Kennedy always says, “A buyer is a buyer is a buyer.” Meaning that a person who buys from you will keep buying as long as you offer him something to purchase. When you don’t have anything to buy, he’ll look for someone else from whom to buy.
You can ignore that reality, or you can use it to draw new customers in, and keep your existing customers coming back.