The Power of Push and Pull

Considering the factors that will be weighed up by customers for and against changing behavior is crucial to building your brand.

The Push and Pull Model of Behavior Change model is about uncovering attitudes that might draw customers away from connecting with your brand as well as what might attract them to it.

What motivates our customers? What inspires their behaviors? How can we seek to change them?  Understanding behavioral change when defining opportunities for the brand is an important part of developing a clear and compelling brand. After all, much of the role of marketing and that of brands are to encourage customer behavior change.

Here at Strategic North, we have been thinking about how we can best support our clients that are deliberating these same questions and its lead us to explore our approach with the brands we work on.  We all know that perspective is crucial and talking to stakeholders allows us to slip into their shoes and look out at the world around them, the treatments they come into contact with and the behaviors that wrap around the choices they make. But once we have heard their opinions, then what? How do we take these conversations and turn them into something meaningful so that brand teams can work out their next move?

This model is about uncovering attitudes that might draw customers away from connecting with your brand as well as what might attract them to it.

To get to this, we have recently been using the Push and Pull technique. This is very distinct from push & pull promotional strategies on how to create demand. Instead it is the Push and Pull Model of Behavior Change.

In order for customers to change their behavior (e.g. prescribe differently, refer differently, follow-up differently) there must be a drive, belief, or a reason, to do this. There are a number of factors that will be weighed up (whether sub-consciously or consciously) in favor or against changing behavior. This model is about uncovering attitudes that might draw customers away from connecting with your brand as well as what might attract them to it.

Firstly, the PUSH is about understanding how to get into the physician’s mind and ‘promote a change to new behavior’. To get to this, you first need to ask what’s missing in management or treatment (i.e. the unmet need). Is there an area that stakeholders (HCPs, payers or patients) are dissatisfied with in their jobs to be done that may encourage a different mind-set should the right product (yours!) appear? It’s also about outlining how your product could make the customer’s future better and most importantly, how valuable would this behavior change be for them. Will they feel differently if they choose to alter their routine and prescribe it?

Secondly, the PULL is about getting to the ‘blocks that prevent a change of behavior’ so, what’s pulling the physician back or blocking the new situation. This could be that they are happy with what they are doing today and they do not have the perception that there is an unmet need driving them to change. It could be current infrastructure that’s supporting their actions or ‘same old’ routine that’s hindering a new way of thinking. Perhaps guidelines are reinforcing the prescriber’s decisions so there is no motivation to assess other options. On a deeper level, it could that there is fear and anxiety associated with a change, perhaps a concern over safety of a new treatment or lack of courage to take a step that’s different from peers.

So, how does this work in practice? As an example, we have been working with a client recently on an brand that had been on the market for a few years that they found to be underperforming despite its strong data. Our first step was to define the current world and on talking to physicians, what we found was that they had a narrow view of success in terms of their treatment goals and on that basis their perception was that between all the treatments available to them there was no real clinical differentiation.

Physicians were, therefore, driven by different decision-making criteria and pulled towards another available treatment as a habit (first on the market) and since it was more convenient, cheaper, and there was no (perceived) evidence to suggest that an alternative option would provide a superior way to meet their treatment goals, there was no reason to change their behavior. From the physician’s perspective, why should they change? They had long-standing experience with the brand, and the company, and they trusted it to deliver against their goals. We also found that they had a very niche patient profile in their memory for our client’s brand and only in that space did the push factors trump the pull towards the incumbent brand.

However, when physicians reviewed the brand’s data during the research phase, they were surprised by what they saw, particularly around a far more beneficial long-term tolerability and risk profile, over that of their first treatment choice. Once this was clearly understood, this started to shift attitudes on treatment success from a narrow, more acute definition to a wider and long-term way of thinking where the impact that treatments may be having on secondary conditions became a far greater consideration. Once that was established, it became clear not only that physicians would be trying to achieve something very different and hence their prescribing triggers, which we call ‘choice clues’, changed then the balance between push and pull also shifted dramatically.

Using Push and Pull in this case, took us to a more actionable endpoint rather than ending up with a list of needs that wouldn’t necessarily differentiate the brand. Instead, it gave a clear description of the drivers that pulled the customer away from the client’s brand within the context of the lens their customers were looking through and the environment in which they were working. It also helped us to define what a shift in mind-set could do for the brand, adding significantly to the push factors towards the brand. This provided a platform to tailor brand and market activities which could help shift attitudes to patient’s outcomes and therefore the solutions which could achieve these new goals which very much included our clients’ brand. In this case, the concept of jeopardy i.e. if they don’t change something now, they could be faced with a significant longer-term issue impacting their patients’ health played a role. This helped the team us to develop a brand plan weaved around this message, so that communications could help break the barriers that prevented a push towards the new situation.

It is a powerful way to view markets, which actively encourages you to look through the eyes of your customer and in turn to understand the barriers and drivers for your brand. Facing these head on can liberate thinking and in turn your brand.

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Multichannel Customer Experience EU 2015

Oct 19, 2015 - Oct 20, 2015, London

Develop a customer plan... NOT a brand plan!