Motivating People: The Carrot Or The Stick?

Motivating People with the carrot of the stickWhen motivating people, you have a carrot and a stick as your tool. This saying comes from motivating a horse to move. You can dangle a carrot, or you can smack the horse in the ass, to start him moving forward.

The Problem With The Stick

When you smack the horse on the ass with the stick it will start running. Unfortunately, you have no control what direction he’ll run. He'll first move away from the pain but then may circle back around and stop exactly where he was standing before. That's a bad thing.

That's also how most people work.

Your customer looks in the mirror and says, "I'm fat. I don't like feeling like this. I need to make some changes." He takes out his computer and searches for ways to lose weight and make changes. Then, lunch rolls around. He stops at McDonald's and chows down a Big Mac, super-sized fries, and soda.

The pain is there when he's standing naked in the mirror. He's motivated to move. He takes a couple steps by searching for solutions on the computer. At lunch time he's back where he started.

The Problem With The Carrot

When you dangle the carrot out there you're giving your horse a direction to move. Your pony's going to move towards the carrot. If you keep the carrot out there, the horse will walk right up to it and eat it.

If your horse isn't hungry (there's no pain), he may not move towards the carrot. You'll have to find something else to attract him to your product.

You’ll see this when you start having to create additional incentives for your customer to buy. Have you ever had to discount the price, throw in extra bonuses, and wash your customer’s car just to entice him enough to buy?

Use The Carrot And The Stick

As I wrote in a previous article on pain, “Your customer will walk to seek pleasure but he will run to avoid pain.”

When your customer feels that smack in the ass he starts running. He doesn’t care where he runs, he wants to escape the pain. You need to grab his attention and show him the intoxicating carrot to run towards.

When you effectively tackle both sides, you'll have pain pushing him away from something bad and you'll be seducing him with pleasure to move in your direction. You’ll create a push/pull compulsion that drives your customers quickly to your solutions.

Think About Your Message

If you leave one side out (carrot or the stick) of the equation then you're missing opportunities. You have customers sitting on the fence unable to move because they haven't been pushed (stick) or seduced (carrot) off.

Is your sales letter hitting both pain and pleasure? Are you targeting the right pain? What keeps your customer awake at night?

If he sleeps like a baby, what is his 'wet dream?' How can you seduce him?

Solve these two problems and you'll create, to put it lightly, a highly motivated customer.

Image by Mustafa Khayat

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