strategy

Genius solutions are not enough to fight status quo bias

Sandra Stewart | August 16, 2017

You’ve developed a genius new thing that is so much better than everything else on the market—it saves money, saves resources, and delivers better results and more benefits than incumbent solutions.

Too bad that’s not enough to ensure success.

Creative revolutionaries often think—not unreasonably—that once they’ve solved a big problem and let people know about it, they’ve done their job. But then they encounter what seems like a wall of indifference. Are your prospects really that obtuse? Do they really not care how well anything works? Do their powers of imagination extend only to finding ways your solution won’t work for them?

Maybe. But it’s more likely they do get it (or you haven’t explained it clearly), and they may even think it’s a good idea. It’s just that they’re succumbing, as we all do, to the inertial force of status quo bias. Change takes effort, it can cause anxiety, and there’s often no incentive for making it happen. Fighting this takes a sustained assault on all fronts.

Make it easy. No, really easy.
Do whatever it takes to ease the switch to your solution. This could involve clever financing (residential solar sales took off with the advent of no-money-down power purchase agreements); performing annoying bureaucratic work for the customer, such as transferring databases or filling in applications for incentive funds; providing free training; presenting the CFO with a financial analysis showing verifiable ROI; and so on.

Prove the value.
New = unknown = scary. That’s why case studies are essential—few people want to be the first to try something (and possibly fail). Case studies also provide the human story behind the ROI—hearing from peers that something works reduces perceived risk. It’s worth offering an incentive to early adopters for their participation in a published case study.

Find hidden resistance.
Sometimes people won’t tell you the real reason they don’t want to buy. Maybe they’re afraid that your solution will make them look bad or put them out of a job. If you can honestly make a case that it won’t, do so. Maybe there’s some incentive for them to continue business as usual that’s not immediately obvious. Maybe it’s a lot of things. Find out what the hidden barriers are and counter them.

Communicate clearly and often.
Once you have a clear, concise story about what you do, why it matters and the benefits it provides, tell it over and over again, everywhere your prospects might see it. Never underestimate the value of repetition.

Fighting status quo bias can take as much creativity as solving the original problem—and the effort is essential. When you address every barrier to progress and communicate ceaselessly about how you’ve overcome each one, people are much more likely to recognize the best ideas and adopt them.

Go deeper into how you can overcome status quo bias with our Strategy Shift guide, Storytelling with Purpose: How Stories Build Brand Value.

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