Winning services help people do what they already want to do

My friend Sokratis posted a link to the video below in a comment on the post I wrote Wednesday about building habit forming consumer services. The main point of that post was introducing Nir Eyal’s concept of the Desire Engine – a trigger, action, (variable) reward, commitment loop.

In the video behaviour change expert BJ Fogg unpacks the first two steps – exploring the circumstances under which people respond to a trigger and take an action (or behaviour in Fogg’s parlance).

For me the four takeaways from the video are below, but they don’t come close to doing justice to the richness of understanding you will get from watching Fogg’s talk in full.

  1. Build (or invest in) services where the desire or motivation is already there – all big successes on the consumer web have done this – find stuff on the internet, stay in touch with my friends, buy stuff..
  2. Behaviours (actions) only happen when motivation, ability to complete the action, and a trigger are present at the same time. Fogg puts that in a formula – B=MAT.
  3. The best place to start with a service is triggering the folk who already have motivation and ability – these will be your early adopters and probably long term core users
  4. After that it is better to work on the ‘A’ in B=MAT than the ‘M’. Making it easier for people who are motivated to use your service (i.e. increasing their ability) is sticky – if it is easier today it will be easier tomorrow, but with motivation you have to start from scratch every day. This is counterintuitive. For many the first thought is how do I make my service better – i.e. increase motivation.

I think it is the social scientist in me that enjoys these frameworks so much. By themselves they don’t provide any answers, but I find them very helpful in breaking complex issues into manageable chunks.