As the song goes “turn and face the strain.” Changes are never easy, and changing yourself is even harder. In marketing, change is a constant thing you have to get used to if you want to be successful.
I am no stranger to the struggle of changing my behavior. For my twelfth birthday, one of my gifts was a Stretch Armstrong. Within two days, I had figured out exactly how far I had to stretch him before he split in half.
Of course, as I watched my Stretch’s insides ooze out of his torso, I freaked out and as DJ Khaled would say “another one” was needed. Within a couple of days, I had stretched him to the breaking point again. My behavior, you could say, went through no significant changes.
Recently, in an attempt to become more focused and creative, I have tried two new behaviors.
One, after running across an article on the health benefits of taking cold showers, I started doing just that.
What could it hurt right? (it hurts my pride every morning when I’m scared to get in the shower)
Two, I started waking up earlier, the alarm goes off at 6:30 am now, and I hit the snooze about five times. This is one is particularly painful for me; I’m still a night owl and mornings are rough.
When it comes to truly changing your behavior, two researchers named Prochaska and DiClemente developed a way of describing what they called the “Stages of Change Model.” Using these five stages, you can learn how to buck up and face the strain of changing not only personal habits but marketing ones as well.
“No way, not me…” Precontemplation Stage
Let’s get real; you might not even have thought of changing your marketing at all. Or you haven’t taken the idea of changing seriously. You might have even received ideas about things from business partners, friends and family, but were too stubborn, prideful and acted negatively towards the idea.
Precontemplation is all about changing how we act when these suggestions come about. It’s about finding value in others advice and moving on to think about those ideas with intent.
“Well, maybe…” Contemplation Stage
This is the stage where we actively think about the need to change. What exactly causes this shift, however, is different for everyone and mostly unpredictable. This stage is where obstacles often rear their ugly heads, and people get stuck. The idea here is to think critically about your marketing methods and then move on, not to dwell.
“I know I should…” Determination Stage
We begin preparing ourselves mentally and often physically for action. We pick days to stop our current efforts, and we schedule days to start anew. This determination is a climax of the contemplation and decision to change. With the correct determination, you can change any behavior.
“Ok, let’s do this…” Action Stage
Where the fun begins, we wake up and start to take action. We start that new content initiative, we write those newsletters, we produce that video. You are determined, and you have thought out what you want to do. Time to put up or shut up, and start some work that will help change your business for the better.
“It is possible…” Maintenance Stage
Maintenance is the stage where you continue to work on your marketing strategy. You revise the why and how of the content you are putting out into the world. One of the reasons we so often fail at changing our behaviors is we believe the contemplation and thinking about our behavior is more important than action and maintenance of our new behaviors.
What is powerful about going through the five stages of change is you start to see how the stages are connected and conditional. Once you can take one step, the next one is right there in front of you. Changing your marketing can seem incredibly complex and daunting, but when you break it down, the first step is something everybody can handle.
Change can be hard and uncomfortable, but what meaningful thing you do isn’t?