Motivation is a powerful and fascinating component of our human lives. We are fickle, particular and often lazy creatures that require a great deal of motivation to do anything. Nearly every part of my career in communications is somehow related back to how I can motivate someone to do something. And while it may seem simple enough, it’s no easy task!
Any effective marketing, advertising or public relations strategy should take into consideration the most likely motivating factors of your target audience. What will get them to take action? The bad news is that it can be a combination of any number of things. The good news is that the most common motivators fall into nine categories (that ironically can all be labeled with a word that starts with C).
Let’s take a look at the nine C’s of what motivates humans to do anything – and how to ignite this motivation style. I urge you to carefully think about which one is the strongest motivator for you personally and pinpoint the one you rely on the most to motivate others. I promise the results will spark your curiosity (yes, that’s one of the C words we will cover)!
As human begins, we are drawn to a challenge. The excitement and fulfillment we receive when we achieve more than we initially thought possible is an intoxicating rush of adrenaline that keeps us coming back for more. To an extent this can depend upon personality type, but to some degree we all crave a good challenge now and then.
How to ignite this motivation style: Set the bar and challenge your audience to raise it. Some very effective marketing campaigns have challenged us to create a better solution, try something new or dare to be different. We crave the feelings of pride and accomplishment that come from taking on a challenge.
Long before we had a term to define marketing and advertising strategies, we have been motivating people through competition in a variety of ways. It’s why athletes put their bodies through intensive training and unbelievable feats of endurance – all to better themselves and gain a leg up on the competition. We’re not all athletes, but we are all motivated by competition in some shape or form. If we think we can do or have something better than someone else, you better believe we’re going to be motivated to try it!
How to ignite this motivation style: Showcase how other people are excelling and how your audience can too with your business or service. No one wants to be left behind. Appeal to the desire to “keep up with the Joneses” and you will motive action.
Thinking of compliance as a motivating factor seems funny because not often do we like to be told what to do. Or so we think. As creatures of habit, we seek someone who will tell us what to do because it’s all we have known our whole lives (we can thank Mom and Dad for that). If your boss or client should walk in right now and hand you a work task, chances are nearly certain that you will comply with their request. You now feel obligated to complete this task which is a strong motivator for action.
How to ignite this motivation style: Make your audience feel obligated or committed to doing something. Identify a specific action and convince them that it is their responsibility to fulfil this duty.
What should happen if you do not take an action? Will you lose money, lose your job, make someone angry or something worse? If you believe that a negative consequence is associated with not taking a specific action, you are highly motivated to indeed take that action. Whether we know it or not, we run cost-benefit analyses in our head all the time. The consequence must be perceived as worse than the effort, expense or risk associated with the action. That’s where marketing comes in.
How to ignite this motivation style: Play upon fear or doubt that something bad will result from not taking this action. They key is to identify your audience’s shared insecurity or vulnerability and position your desired action as the way to prevent negative consequences.
There are countless aspects of our lives that we simply cannot control. This is why our ability to control something – anything – is a great motivator. We want to feel the power and stability of being in control, no matter how small. Even if this is simply picking our ice cream flavor or choosing the color of our car, empower people with a sense of control and they will be motivated to take action.
How to ignite this motivation style: Show how taking action will put your audience in a position of control. Empower them with (limited) options to improve their current situation or demonstrate how the action will help them solve a problem that feels beyond their control.
We are also motivated by the desire to feel connected to other people. This is why we devote a great portion of our time to cultivating friendships and building a community around us. Our individual personalities will influence how many and what type connections we seek, but we all want to feel connected to some degree. I am without a doubt an introvert, but I still need and crave connections in my life.
How to ignite this motivation style: Speak to your audience’s inherent desire to feel accepted and part of the “bigger picture.” Paint a picture of a connected community bonding and working together.
Another motivational factor that is closely linked to the feeling of community and involvement is “contribution.” Our actions can be motivated by the desire to help a cause. Fundraising for a nonprofit or political organization takes a very specific appeal – and based upon the millions of dollars donated to various organizations every month, it is also a very effective form of motivation.
How to ignite this motivation style: Convince your audience that their actions will contribute to a community or cause. Make it easy to understand how their actions will benefit the greater good and serve a purpose that is meaningful to them.
We have covered the categories of people wanting to feel connected and people wanting to contribute to something bigger than themselves, but we would be amiss to not also address a more selfish motivator of pride. Craftsmanship motivates us to take action because we are drawn to the idea of showcasing our skills and talents to create something that other people admire. Craftsmanship is not all selfish. Many people create beautiful and useful things for someone else to enjoy while also placing a feather in their cap.
How to ignite this motivation style: Play upon your audience’s pride to use their skills and talents create something of value. Showcase examples of what others have created and how they are being used and enjoyed by many.
Finally there is curiosity. This is another inherent human desire that exists within each and every one of us. We want to know what something is, how it works and ultimately how it can benefit our lives in some way. Piquing someone’s curiosity in an effort to elicit action is a common, but extremely effective marketing technique.
How to ignite this motivation style: Ask a good question to leave your audience with a burning desire to know more. You shouldn’t aim to fully answer the question, but rather spark interest that will drive them to take action to get more information.
What factor tends to motivate you the most? Expand upon an idea or add to the list by commenting below!