Chosen because it's known

In the last weeks I’ve seen people that I haven’t seen in years—and as I’m starting to get used to, they said me what the heck were you doing living in China?
I’ve spent around a year living in China and also I’ve traveled around Southeast Asia for several months. Thus, when I tell my story to people I haven’t seen for a while they usually freak out. It’s not because is something unusual, but because some of them wouldn’t even consider living in Asia. Now in my country (Spain), people want to work abroad and they basically consider UK and Germany as a top choices. There’s no way they consider China just like they pick London.
The real reason behind this is not of lack of job opportunities, language barriers or the distance. The main objection is they don’t know what’s there. Here, everybody’s heard about someone that’s living in London or Berlin and is doing well. But in Shanghai? Not so many. And that gives us two reasons: they choose what they know because (1) they’ve heard about somebody that is doing well there, and (2) they’re used to know these options.
Hence, here we’re dealing with the status quo. The majority of the people choose these options because it’s comfortable and it gives them peace of mind. People choose based on what they know, because it feels less risky. Few years ago it felt risky to go abroad for them, but they’ve heard over and over that they’ve got opportunities out there, specially in the country I’ve mentioned above. Thereby, the key here is repetition until that change becomes something perceived as safe.
You can find two takeaways in this post. The first one is that if you want to sell change, you need to make sure you’re on the options that they know. And the second and most important, is to realize that these people represent the middle of the curve, where the masses are. When they’ve got to know that your option feels safe is because somebody else has already tried the change you’re selling.
What does this mean for you? By the time to want to make sure people know you, it’ll be too late. As it probably is for the people following what they’ve heard about others.
Selling change is hard. But selling to the wrong audience is futile.