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BREAK THE PATTERN! Why “pattern interrupts” are so important in this time of overstimulation and COVID

BREAK THE PATTERN! Why “pattern interrupts” are so important in this time of overstimulation and COVID

August 14, 2020

Have you been hearing a lot of this in marketing lately?:

“We’re all in this together.”

“Stay safe.”

“The new normal.”

“We care.”

I find this this over-earnest, kumbaya-vibe messaging a bit tiresome, especially coming from big brands. They don’t know us personally, so they couldn’t possibly care that much. Their ads come across as a bit fake.

But even worse, based on what I am seeing on social channels and such, these shallow and syrupy expressions are being spread by everybody. While I am sure people mean well, it feels like we are all guests at some months-long funeral where we’ve got to be sympathetic and careful with everything we say and do.

On the flip side, anyone lucky enough to have avoided going into a sad state is likely a nervous wreck from being bombarded with constant updates on coronavirus cases and deaths, race riots, staggering job losses, political infighting, and the million other things keeping us OVERSTIMULATED.

Either way, this repeated messaging is bad for business. Many companies are stuck in a pattern of wait and see, which isn’t doing anyone a lot of good.

Trying to break through this pattern in order to make sales is challenging, but I am going to share a couple of things which are working for us and customers we have been working with lately. They are based on the NLP concept of PATTERN INTERRUPTS.

Essentially, pattern interrupts are things you do which interrupt whatever pattern your target is operating on, which causes them to pay extra attention to the next thing they are told or shown. There are a million ways to interrupt a pattern, as you can imagine.

For example, let’s assume Bill has established a pattern for dealing with salespeople during this pandemic, as he is hell-bent on NOT spending another penny despite receiving a large SBA grant and loan to help him survive these lean times. He’s sitting on the money and proud of it.

No matter the pitch, he’s got a ready response: “Due to the coronavirus, we are being extra cautious and not making major purchases until this is all over.”

Now he expects you to follow the next step of the pattern: trying to handling his objection, which he will just reinforce over and over until he gets rid of you.

By using a pattern interrupt, such as “Okay. How are you guys dealing with sanitization at the office and plant? Could I drop off some masks and hand sanitizer for your folks tomorrow?”

This is going to throw Bill off-guard. You have interrupted the pattern by doing something unexpected and you now stand out greatly in his mind. When you drop off the masks and sanitizers, don’t be surprised if he loosens up and agrees to buy sooner rather than later.

“Pattern interrupts are really useful in that they shake up a person’s typical thoughts and actions and opens the possibility for something new to take place… In other words, the person whose pattern is interrupted becomes highly influenceable.”

Source: https://dailynlp.com/pattern-interrupt/

There are two easy tactics you can do to pattern interrupt prospects stuck in a “wait and see” rut or other fixed idea which is hampering their ability to move forward.

  1. Do the unexpected
  2. Use Humor

In the example with Bill, we did the first one: “Do the unexpected.” We broke off from continuing our pitch and handling his objections to simply offering to help him on an unrelated (but relevant) matter. This caused him to shift from rejection to acceptance (of our free masks and sanitizers) and to look at us in a different way from all the other salespeople he has programmed himself to reject.

As far as humor, take a look at this example here by KFC. It makes fun of people trying to make home-made KFC during quarantine, to sad-looking results:

Totally relatable, funny, and hammering home the point that you don’t have to suffer any more with sub-standard fried chicken because KFC will deliver the real deal to your house. Brilliant!

Take a look around at the messaging your competitors are using. If it’s the same “We’re all in this together” stuff, you have a golden opportunity to stand out with different messaging. If you incorporate an unexpected “plot twist” or stick some humor in there, chances are you can wake people up from the stupor they have been in and get them to buy from you.

What can it hurt to try, eh?

If you’d like some tips specifically for your business, let’s set up a quick call or zoom — I’d love to meet you! If you are reading this on LinkedIn shoot me a private message or if not, text or call my cel 760.815.4464 or email shaun@volohaus.com.