What causes a change in behavior? Mr. Potato Head of course.

On my company’s website, I talk briefly about the four phases of a persuasive campaign: awareness, readiness, a triggering event, and behavior modification, which are all important to successful marketing. I recently heard an interesting story about a giant Pacific octopus living in the UK at the Newquay Blue Reef Aquarium that serves as a excellent metaphor and a fun anecdote for this topic.
The story goes something like this: Louis, as the giant octopus is called, was given Mr. Potato Head as a Christmas present one year. This small change in his environment caused a significant change in behavior – Louis began acting happier, more excited, and more interested in his surroundings. There are a couple of other important details to this story: Mr. Potato Head is clearly a colorful, tactile object but was also used to deliver treats to Louis, cephalopods (including this octopus) need mental stimulation, and it is unclear what Louis’ state-of-mind was before he got his present. In my opinion, his caretakers likely gave him the gift for Christmas simply as a special treat, and Louis was so excited that the staff kept it as part of his regular aquarium experience (but I’m not biologist, so I’m just guessing).
Now, here’s where the parallel comes into play. Assuming your audience is aware of your product or service and ready to make a decision and choose between you or your competitor, it’s important to introduce a triggering event (a stimuli that causes someone to take action) that is matched to your prospective customers. When you introduce the proper stimuli, you get a change in behavior and your customer (hopefully) buys your stuff. Give your customers their own “Mr. Potato Head” and they will begin acting happier, more excited, and more interested doing business with you.
It’s up to you to decide what you want to use as stimuli; it could be a discount, a gift with purchase, extended service or a special warranty, a strong community, or something else completely. Just make sure that when you decide on your triggering event, you think about what your customers want and need and what action you want them to take in the end. And feel free to share this story with your marketing team so they know what you mean when you suggest giving out Mr. Potato Head next Christmas.