a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged
Inertia is - by definition - a passive state, often with negative connotations. Human beings have evolved with a bias towards preferring the status quo and change can involve a lot of effort. It can be a lot easier just to stick with what you know!
Reading an article about brand loyalty this week, brought it home to me how important it is for marketers to understand the power of inertia to work for them as well as against them.
Inertia means loyal customers
So, it's important to recognise that there are times when inertia can work in your favour, so inertia is not necessarily a negative thing. Maybe you can rely on your customer's inertia to keep them buying from you? In which case why would you want to overcome it?
When it comes to existing customers you do want to encourage that natural tendency towards inertia - not by putting in negative barriers to leaving or switching (such as long contracts with punitive exit charges) but by working on building loyalty and succeed in turning it into a positive force.
Your objective is to make your customer's experience of your product or service so good that they wouldn't want to make the effort to go anywhere else. Amazon and Google are excellent examples of how this works - continually coming up with ways to make it easier for you to use their services. What's the biggest problem with shopping online? Being in for a delivery. So at the university my son went to visit this week (and I assume in many other similar centres) Amazon has established a delivery hub. Why would you shop anywhere else?
What can you do in your business to deepen the relationship you have with your customers and make it harder for them to leave? This may be as simple as making sure you keep in touch or respond appropriately in a timely manner, remembering an important date, saying thank you. Maybe asking customers what you could do to improve service would throw up some ideas.
When it comes to winning new business, however, you may well be faced with overcoming inertia. What can you do to persuade someone it is worth the effort to change suppliers and switch to you?
Once again, this may not require anything terribly complicated or innovative , it may be as simple as periodically considering:
- how visible you are to the target market
- how easy it is to find out key information about what you offer
- whether you are easy to contact and to buy from
Again, you only need to look at the example of Amazon to see the masters at work. They make it so easy that, even if (as I do) you feel some concerns about some of their business practices, you are prepared to go along with the path of least resistance.
It needs to be an effort NOT to buy from you rather than the other way round!
Make it work for you
Think about how inertia is affecting your business - both how it works for you and against you - and what you can do about it. Of course, if the inertia sits with you that might need a different solution ...