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Updated 29 Sep 2020

How pattern-matching can help your business grow

What is the best way to quickly grow your client base? For many companies, pattern-matching could offer a very successful shortcut. 

GG van Rooyen, 27 September 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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Human beings are pattern-matching machines. Changing our beliefs, though, is something we rarely do. It's far easier to sell someone on a new kind of fruit than it is to get them to eat crickets, regardless of the data you bring to the table. – Seth Godin, entrepreneur and marketing guru.

Seth Godin recently made an excellent point on his personal blog, which, by the way, is worth checking in on daily. Godin is a prolific writer who posts just about every day.

In this particular blog entry, Godin points out the obvious problem with disruption and innovation: It tends to require people to fundamentally change both their habits and beliefs. Consider Uber or Airbnb. These services ask consumers to behave in a new way. Instead of using a taxi or public transport, Uber asks that they suddenly climb into the passenger seat of an unmarked car and trust that the person behind the steering wheel will take them where they need to go. Similarly, Airbnb, asks that travellers stay in the homes of complete strangers instead of booking into a hotel. Getting people to change the way they do things fundamentally isn’t easy. And if you don’t have alotof money to spend, it’s almost impossible.

Related: 6 Principles to increase your influence – today: Authority

“Most of the time, we look for patterns that match our habits. When we find a pattern-match, we can embrace it without re-evaluating our beliefs,” says Godin.

“On the other hand, moving all your data to the cloud, or staying at an Airbnb, these are new decisions, new ways of being in the world. Trying to get a book publisher to fund your magazine or your web app might make sense to you, but without the benefit of a pattern to match, the publisher who has built a career around one pattern might get cold feet.”

So while it’s great to innovate and disrupt, it’s tough to scale when you’re actively selling your offering as a massive upheaval. People might respect you for it, but will they be willing to come along for the ride? “It's far easier to sell someone on a new kind of fruit than it is to get them to eat crickets, regardless of the data you bring to the table,” says Godin.

So it might be worth considering how you can embrace pattern-matching to hasten the adoption of your offering. How can you soften the blow and make the jump to your offering seem less daunting? In other words, how can you sell dragon fruit instead of dragonflies? 

“It's tempting (and important) to improve the world by creating new beliefs. But it's far more reliable to match them,” says Godin.

Related: The art of business pitching has changed. Are you on board?


Ask yourself: How can I use pattern-matching to make the shift to my offering seem less daunting?

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GG van Rooyen

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