Motivate yourself with rewards and threats

scary personal trainer

Thanks to a reader from Canberra, Australia for sharing these awesome personal marketing ideas:

I just thought I’d let you know about a personal ad campaign that has worked really well for my Dad. He is trying to lose some weight at the moment, and has given himself some incentives to do so.

First of all he tried a negative approach. He gave some money to my Mum and told her to keep it. If he did not reach his target weight by a set date she was to use it to get him a personal trainer to come and wake him up and train him every morning. He put very intimidating commando-like pictures of personal trainers on the fridge door to remind him. Well, this approach apparently scared him enough to reach his target weight.

Since then he has set new targets and has tried a positive approach. He has bought himself both a vacuum cleaner and a book and given them to me. When he reached his new targets he would be rewarded with the gifts, otherwise I was to give them away. He printed out reminders of his rewards and placed them around the house. Fortunately I was not forced to throw his money away as he reached both targets.

This is similar to buying souveniers before a trip, as you mentioned, making it seem like the ads desired outcome was already a reality. This approach helped my Dad to lose about 15 kgs, so I hope it’s helpful to you and your blog.

I love the creativity of her Dad’s approach, and there are several things that impress me about his strategies:

  • I think the core brilliance of his plan is that while he felt motivated he set events in motion that would be implemented automatically in the future, whether he took any further action or not. Once Mum held the money to buy the personal trainer and our reader had the gifts, the outcome was out of his hands. The only way to prevent a result he didn’t want was to actually follow through on meeting his weight-loss goals.
  • He set up commitments and expectations with people whose opinion really mattered to him. In doing so, he activated the psychological principle of consistency.
  • He set up visual reminders to keep himself on track, like the commando-like pictures of personal trainers on the fridge door. Those images reminded him both of the commitment he had made and the consequences that would occur if he didn’t follow through.
  • He picked stuff he cared about. This is a core principle of personal marketing. You know yourself really well. You know what benefits you care about, and what threats will get you moving. For example, a vacuum cleaner probably wouldn’t do it for me, but the thought of a personal trainer waking me up in the morning would scare me too!

Most of the time TBYB advocates advertising about stuff you DO want, but I think the results here speak for themselves. (For those like me who had to look it up, 15 kg equals 33 pounds.) A really creative, interesting approach. Thanks for sharing!

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