Sometimes, the best way to move someone from point A to point B is via point C. Take yoga mats, for example. Instead of telling people to buy a yoga mat, explain the health benefits of yoga and motivate them to stretch 10 minutes a day.

This is an approach that behavioral guru BJ Fogg calls elegant persuasion (see his book: Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do). Smart persuaders, says Fogg, motivate people to simple action, which then opens the door for them to engage in more difficult behaviors.

Every behavior starts with a trigger

Triggers prompt, cue, and call people to action. It’s a formula that social network giant Facebook has mastered. When you don’t log into Facebook for a while, you receive a message alerting you to a new notification. I fall for it every time. But if they said, “Hey Ken, connect with your friends,” I’d never click on the link.

But we’re talking pharma here

Getting someone to try a pharma brand isn’t always easy. Here are 7 crucial steps to aid the process:

  1. Figure out what’s preventing a desired behavior (I agree with Fogg that it usually comes down to lack of motivation, lack of ability, or lack of a trigger).
  2. Instead of trying to stop old behaviors, create new ones.
  3. Make new behaviors simple and attainable.
  4. Work to manage perceptions, particularly associating cost with value.
  5. Communicate through channels your target audiences are already using.
  6. Get your targets to repeat their new behaviors until they become routine.
  7. Continue to remind (and reward) them.

When decisions are made naturally, there’s no need for excessive nudging or nagging. You also avoid naysayers this way.

And that’s nirvana.