Jun 9 2008
Let’s face it. Most people hate change. They like to keep things the way they are because its safe. This way there are no surprises and no creative thinking is needed to solve problems. It’s really an issue of control. When everything is the same, we’re in control and don’t risk making fools of ourselves. The comfort zone is very comfortable.
One example of the fear of change is the recent attention given to The Hockey Theme that was played at beginning of the Hockey Night in Canada TV program. There was a contract dispute between CBC and Copyright Music and Visuals. It seemed like the long time traditional tune would no longer be played before hockey games and CBC was preparing to hold a nationwide contest to pick a new theme. There was, however, a large public movement to keep things the way they are. CTV came forwards and purchased the theme. So, the tradition continues and no new innovation comes to televised hockey in Canada.
Microsoft is very familiar with challenging the comfort zone. It took many years for Microsoft Office to replace the applications that had market dominance. It was Word vs. WordPerfect, Excel vs. Lotus 1-2-3, and Access vs. dBase. MS Office was superior to the competition, but the competitors had loyal followers who weren’t interested in trying a newer and better application.
How do you convince people to switch away from a product they are familiar and comfortable with to a newer one which may be better? In the Get a Mac campaign, Apple take the approach of misrepresenting Windows and ridiculing it. People who use Windows surely must be fools and wise, intelligent people use Macs.
This technique may work with people who have never purchased either computer, but is a Windows user going to buy a Mac after being told they’re an idiot? Probably not. The one thing I remember from my archaeology class in university was that you will never convince someone your right by insulting them. The way you change someone’s opinion is to change how they feel towards it. There is a reason why soft drink companies hire celebrities to promote their product. If you like the celebrity, you’ll be happy watching the ad and being in a happy state of mind triggers a bias in favour of the product being sold.
How does a software developer change the minds of potential customers who are using the competition’s products? You need to build positive relationships with them and change how they feel about you, your business, and your product line. Social networking sites, forums, and blogs are great ways to build your fan base. Giving away useful software is another good way to build customer loyalty. A customer who likes who you are and what you represent has a greater chance of becoming a paying customer as opposed to someone who doesn’t know you and only sees your ads claiming your the best.