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by Charles Duhigg

In the early 1900s, only 7% of people brushed their teeth. However, 10 years later, that number was up to over 65%.


People have always known brushing their teeth was important. In fact, toothpaste companies regularly promoted the key to a healthy and clean smile is brushing your teeth. So, how come when Pepsodent added a few ingredients to their toothpaste that had literally no effect on cleaning teeth did so many people begin brushing their teeth?

The Power of Habit is a shockingly practical book about how to get people to continue buying your products/services by integrating one simple formula that has been celebrated since the days of Pavlov's pup, and Skinner who basically stole his idea and applied it to psychology, much like what Hawthorne did with the Heisenberg Principle in Physics.

It's called the "Habit Loop", and it is the following: Cue => Routine => Reward.

Getting back to toothpaste... the key factor which saw more people buying and using toothpaste is that by adding citric acid, as well as doses of mint oil and other relatively exotic chemicals, people's gums began tingling when they brushed their teeth.

The ingredients had made no contributions to a cleaner mouth, but rather only tingling gums.

I'm sure you know the tingling I'm talking about. It makes your mouth feel clean when you're done, doesn't it? Albeit somewhat of a nuisance, the tingling feeling made people feel as though their teeth were clean, and as a result, were more inclined to brush their teeth, and today, their co-workers all owe a debt of gratitude to Pepsodent.

So, what you have is the cue (dirty mouth), routine (brush your teeth), and the reward (sparkling clean mouth).

This book highlights several products over the years such as Febreze which was on the brink of total failure before Proctor and Gamble (P&G) realized the problem wasn't the product, the problem was the "reward" of using Febreze that marketers were failing to promote to the right people.

Originally Febreze was marketed to people with pets, and therefore smelly homes. Makes sense since Febreze is a spray that eliminates odors while producing a fresh smelling home.

What marketers at P&G didn't realize was people that own pets don't think their homes are smelly, and theretofore saw no need for the product.

Note: Of course not all people that have pets have smelly homes. However, a lot do!

It wasn't until P&G started marketing this product to moms as the perfect final task after cleaning a dirty home did the product take off and become a $1 billion giant.

A few spritzes of Febreze following all of the house cleaning chores became the perfect reward to anyone looking to have a fresh smelling clean home.

I highly recommend this book to discover how your products and services can form a symbiotic relationship with your clients/customers with just the right tweak, in a habit-forming direction.

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Don't compete — DOMINATE.


Matt Steffen

"Don't compete -- DOMINATE!"

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