When buyers are thinking about changing products, they are generally not against progress. They’re not against change, either. But they believe that the status quo is the path of least resistance.

It is often what stops buyers from buying your product, even when changing to your solution is the logical choice.

It’s not that they’re delighted with the current solution to the problem you solve in a better way. But it just isn’t urgent for them to change products because switching is a big deal. You haven’t created enough urgency in your value proposition and messaging.

The paradox of changing products

For the buyer, change requires a lot of time and effort - it’s time and effort that is taken away from them achieving their goals. It doesn’t fit into their established routine, which requires a massive pattern interrupt. Your customers have to think about tasks that were previously second nature again.

Changing products is hard.

Think about it. The last time you considered buying a new smartphone, did you look at switching from iOS to Android (or vice-versa)? Did you think about all of those app purchases you’d made? I imagine you wondered if the apps you love would be available on the dark side? And, if they are, will they be as good? Did you make the switch in the end, or did you stick with the status quo - even if it meant not getting the device that you really want?

Businesses often try to motivate a switch with superior features, the best performance or the best experience. But that only affects product quality. You guessed it, there are many more pieces of the puzzle, which fit into one of four categories:

  • A problem with the current product
  • Attraction of the new product
  • Existing habits and loyalties
  • Fear and anxiety for change

The first two are positive forces that push your target buyer into your arms; they are reasons to look for a new solution. The latter are negative forces that pull your prospect to stick with the status quo.

Thanks to Rewired Group, this can be represented visually, as follows:

Why customers change products

Why your target customers won’t change products

If you think about this from your target customers’ perspective, what can you do to get more of your prospects to switch to your product? How can you create more urgency during customer acquisition? Equally, what can you do to prevent existing customers from seeking a different solution to yours? What can you build into your customer experience that prevents clients from thinking about changing products and leaving you?

  1. Demonstrate how bad or primitive their existing solution is.
  2. Demonstrate how well your solution solves their problems.
  3. Assure your prospects that switching is quick and easy. From a product perspective, think about on-boarding and importing data from their existing solution so that they can carry on from where they left off.
  4. Remove prospects’ irrational attachment to their current situation by appealing to their emotions.

This is the process of considering your target customers’ Jobs to be Done. What job is your product going to be ‘hired’ for? What product is your prospect ‘firing’ when they hire yours? These are fundamental questions to consider in the era of disruptive innovation.

Slack’s recent New York Times ad, welcoming Microsoft to its party. It was a direct attack aimed at Microsoft’s existing Office 360 customers.

The ad explained how there was something deeper in the way Slack solved its customers’ problems. It demonstrated that just copying their market-leading features doesn’t lead to a good product. It then assured the world that, because Slack is an open platform, it’s easy to integrate into existing workflows. Finally, they play to the emotions; “You’ve got to do this with love,” it proudly proclaimed. It highlighted how it’s so focused on customers that it’ll move mountains to release a fix in response to a message on social media.

It was a hugely successful campaign for many reasons.

Most of all, it got people talking about Slack on the day when Microsoft was meant to be the belle of the ball. They also created enough tension that was only relievable by giving Slack a try.

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