The Movember Self-Label

[no_dropcaps type="square" color="" font_size="" line_height="" width="" font_weight="" font_style="" text_align="" border_color="" background_color="" margin=""]M[/no_dropcaps]ovember is a great example of how to put bodies in motion, so minds will follow. Turnkey's resident psychologist, Otis Fulton, says, "Self-perception theory posits that we will infer our attitudes by (unconsciously) examining our behavior. And if there is an inconsistency between our attitudes and our physical behavior, the tendency is to trust the latter (Bem, 1972). There is a robust body of research around this idea.

“In one study, people were asked to look at photos of familiar celebrities. The participants perceived the celebrities as being less famous when they furrowed their eyebrows when looking at them. When they furrowed their eyebrows, people unconsciously inferred that they were having to exert more effort to recognize the person, which led them to perceive the celebrities as less famous (Strack & Neumann, 2000).

Otis continues, “Self-perception can even unconsciously affect our love lives. A recent study (Forest, Kille, Wood & Stehouwer, 2015) showed how "experiencing physical instability can undermine perceptions of relationship stability.” Researchers recruited subjects who had been involved in committed relationships for more than a year. They then completed questionnaires about their relationships. While doing so, half of the subjects sat in a normal desk and half sat at a workstation whose chair and desk wiggled slightly — nearly imperceptibly. The researchers found a strong correlation between the wobbly work station and the wobbly nature of the romantic relationship, including how satisfied subjects were with their partners, and even if they felt that the relationship would last!”

With Movember, many men are motivated to join the activity by something unrelated to a cause, the desire to not shave. But, as they see themselves participating, covering their personal mustache desire under the cloak of do-gooding, something else happens. Their minds decide that the activities of their body must mean that they have an affinity to the cause. This new self-label represents an opportunity for the nonprofit.

Imagine a guy who participated in Movember purely because he wanted a mustache. He participates. He unconsciously acquires a self-label. It is not very strong, but it's there. And that loose connection is our opportunity. We did the first part of our job - installing that self-label. Now it's up to us to grow it, reinforce it, and solidify it. We can take that guy from a point where all he was doing was getting over on his wife who hates mustaches, and turn him into someone who is warrior for men's health. It doesn't matter that he didn't have passion coming in. We can assign him one, seriously.

Our job is to continue to position our guy in situations and with opportunities that help him grow his self-label as a men's health warrior. We do that through offers and situations that make him want to take small steps in the direction we want. A frequent mistake manifests in the idea that we can educate him into being an advocate. We can't. Humans don't really work that way. And that really sucks if you are a traditional marketer, reliant on a schedule of what you're going to tell your constituents and when (also called a marketing calendar).  In our new age of measurability, low impact communications show up like a zit. The "art" of marketing, the way it looked in Madmen, may soon be replaced by social science and behavior management.