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The Path of Least Resistance — Bet on It

The consumer will reward us for removing friction from their car-buying experience.

Eric Brown is the CEO and co-founder of inSearchX.

In this day of behavioral ad targeting, discussions about human behavior often arise. Much of the time it’s about how we are changing, which of course has been accelerated during the pandemic — what is the old normal vs. the new normal and so on. Yet as much as it feels like human behavior is changing at its core, it remains the same.

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True, we may have new devices, new ways of shopping, new forms of mobility, new ways of staying informed or entertaining ourselves, but one principle remains the same: We humans are always seeking the path of least resistance. Yes, there are notable exceptions, but those occur when the rewards for taking a path with more friction are greater than the resistance.  

We see this principle in every recent product adoption: the cellphone vs. the wall phone, Netflix vs. Blockbuster vs. the movie theater, Amazon vs. big box vs. local merchant. In fact, today we sell cars because they are more convenient than horses. 

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What does all this mean to digital marketing? Well, everything. If we design our websites, our sales processes, our F&I processes with one guiding principle — how do I design this in a way to remove all resistance for the consumer? — the outcomes we achieve will be exceptional. And in those instances where the friction cannot be removed, perhaps due to government regulations, if we offer compensation/rewards to the consumer for pushing through the friction, the consumer will reward us in return. After all, the law of reciprocity is one of the strongest human behaviors. 

Within our firm, we are obsessed with this principle, and through partnerships with companies like Amazon (Amazon Rewards), Strategic Vision, Boingo and Maritz, we are utilizing constant testing, data analysis and rewards to optimize the consumer experience, thus creating new auto intender audiences. When you remove resistance, more consumers participate in the journey to buy a new car. As a result, the path to purchase is accelerated dramatically, advertising response rates are increased (4,470%, in fact), and the volume of consumers on the path is expanded. This performance lift drives down dealership and OEM marketing and advertising costs as well as reduces the labor costs within the sale process. After all, a consumer who voluntarily enters the sales process is a lot less costly to sell. 

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How does one find the path of least resistance? First, become a customer of your own store, blind yourself to “that’s just the way it’s done,” and ask yourself as you shop your store, “Is this process fast, fun and a rewarding experience?” Then with every no, stop and record your experience, your emotions and ask yourself why you answered no. Remember, to get to “yes” start with “why,” because if you stay with “no,” you end up with no-thing.

Finally, develop a list of ways to get to yes, test them all with actual customers, and ask for their input and emotions. There are many inexpensive tools to gather the data and manage this process. One closing thought: If you find resistance to making the changes necessary, remember to highlight the rewards these changes will create for all involved.

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