Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hierarchy of Influence: Need, Action, Product, Brand

When approaching the task of influencing a prospect, a fundamental task that is often ignored is to assess the prospect’s status quo in terms of the level of persuasion that will be needed to convince them to purchase a specific brand.  To begin at the wrong level undermines the efficiency and effectiveness of the campaign, leading to various degrees of waste and failure.

This level of persuasion can be schematized as a hierarchy, in which the requirements of each level
must be met before the next level can be addressed:
  1. Need – The foundation of all other levels, the prospect must recognize that he has a need, and be motivated to address it
  2. Action – A prospect who wishes to satisfy a need must consider that a given course of action is necessary to do so.
  3. Product – A prospect who is committed to an action must identify a product requisite to the successful completion of the action.
  4. Brand – A prospect who recognizes his need for a product must select a brand of product to purchase

The task of influencing the prospect must be performed from the bottom (or the level at which he already exists) upward to the top: to attempt to convince a prospect of the value of a brand when he does not perceive the need to own the product is fruitless – no matter how good the brand, he does not desire the product.

The lower on the hierarchy, the more prospects exist. The many people who feel the same need may identify several different actions that they believe would be effective in serving that need – so there are fewer prospects with whom you can begin at the “action” level than the “need” level.  Those who feel that actions that do not require your brand are the best method of serving their need must not only be shown that your brand is effective, but that it is better than something that they are already convinced will serve the need.

The lower on the hierarchy, the more difficult the task of persuasion.  It is fairly simple to convince a prospect to try your brand if he already desires the very product you are trying to sell him – or said another way, he is already sold on the product (as well as the action and need) and just has to be convinced of the brand.    But to attempt to convince the same prospect that he needs to reconsider his plans and take an entirely different action is more difficult (as you must overcome his commitment) – and even if you can do that, you must then convince him of the need for the product and the need for the brand.

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