Misfits First

When you want to change people’s behavior you must take into account a simple social fact. Early adopters feel social anxiety when everyone is doing the same thing. They feel wrong when they are in the pack. On the contrary, the early majority feel anxiety when they are NOT following the pack.

If you want to introduce new behavior, you must start with the first group, the early adopters, the misfits. The sheer fact that the behavior is not already ingrained will appeal to them. It will be a turn off to the majority, so don’t craft your message to them yet.

I’m a misfit myself, always have been. I love when I try something before everyone else. In fact, once something becomes “popular” I lose interest. Right now, on my wrist is a Asus Zenwatch.  If/When the Apple iWatch or others become really popular, I will likely go retro for an old style watch.

When you target the misfits, they don’t need to know it all works.  They don’t need it to be perfect.  It’s better with flaws.  It needs to be exciting and different.  It needs to show insight and personality.  Once they grab ahold of the idea, you need to swing your designs towards consistency, reliability and normalcy.  This will absolutely push them away, but it is the price to get the majority going.

It’s funny how these cycles work. I wish they worked differently, but it is foolish to fight them.  Books that cover this topic are Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell and Crossing the Chasm by Geoff Moore. Seth Godin blogs about it frequently.

It’s common knowledge if you care to look. Yet somehow, people keep marketing new things to the majority and expecting changes in behavior. Maybe it isn’t as common as I think?

Whatya think?