Frame the gain or is loss the boss? The nuance of prevention vs promotion focus

Having working with hundreds of people over the eight years since I founded People Patterns I have observed two distinct approaches to new information or techniques.

According to Regulatory Fit Theory (RFT), some people are motivated by a prevention focus where they are attracted to resolving a perceived gap in their business. These clients tend to feel they are missing something and seek answers about how behavioural science can help.

Others are attracted to opportunity. Their promotion focus means they like identifying new ideas that can immediately improve their business.

The end point might be the same – applying behavioural science to improve everyday business and personal effectiveness – but the message that resonates is different. Life is easier for some, and less difficult for others.

How to apply Prevention and Promotion in your business

Your customers and staff will tend to have either a prevention or promotion focus too, which means you should adjust how you engage them accordingly.

For example, promotion-focussed diners in a restaurant spent more time on higher-level information (e.g. entrees, mains), where those in a prevention mindset were more goal-directed (e.g. specific dishes). When the structure of the menu matched their mindset, diners were willing to pay 17% more.

For customers or stakeholders who are prevention-minded, loss is boss. Speaking about the avoidance of negative consequences is powerful so use words and phrases like “gaps”, “missing out”, “waste”, and “avoid”.

For customers or staff with a promotion-mindset, frame the gain. “Opportunity”, “growth”, “win” and “save” will be your go-to words.

Which are you?

To make it easier for people to work out which of my products and services are best for them, I developed a short personality-based matching tool. To find out whether you are a Sleuth, Prospector, Mechanic or Physician, jump on the free online tool right now. Let me know whether your profile reflects your approach.