Why you need to fill your business with habits

close up of a teeth brush and girl's smile behindEvery day in the UK, millions of people tune in to BBC Radio 4, just after 8am to hear the gladiatorial bust-up with some hapless politician. Every day, the Today Programme, has a set-piece interview at this time where – usually – a senior politician gets taken to task. It is compulsive listening.

Similarly, toddlers across the land head towards the TV channel, CBeebies at 6.50pm for the daily Bedtime Story.

Meanwhile, their mums and dads settle down later for their regular dose of Eastenders. And Grandad always has his cocoa at 10pm watching the news.

We are all creatures of habit. After all, we clean our teeth every morning, we tend to eat at roughly the same times each day and we generally go to bed at the same time each night. Gosh; we are predictable.

But the more we do things by habit, the more we do them. Once we get used to watching the news at 10pm, we tend to watch it more often. Once we drink our cocoa every night at the same time, we miss it when we don’t have it, so we make sure we always drink it.

If you consider your average daily newspaper it comes out every day – that’s why it is a daily newspaper. But some days are what journalists call “slow news days” – nothing much is happening. So they could, justifiably, only produce newspapers when there was lots of news around. The problem is, we wouldn’t buy them because we were not in the habit of getting the paper each day.

In other words, when you introduce a habit into your business, you drive up consumption.

This is shown in new research about ritualistic behaviour. This demonstrated that if you involved people in habitual rituals it could even make them eat more carrots. Not only that, the rituals led them to say that they liked carrots more.

So, the question is, what habits can you create in your customers? One habit could be a regular newsletter – mine, for instance, is published every Saturday morning at 10am. Or it could be your monthly calls with your customers – you allocate a day and time and you simply call them, always at that time. Soon it becomes a habit and they look forward to it, leading to more business no doubt.

But whatever approach you take, generating some kind of business habit – perhaps even a ritual – could boost your business.

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