Information vs. Persuasion
I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the last decade and a half listening to people who have amazing ideas, important causes, brilliant products and phenomenal companies. And they all have the same lament: they’ll explain their “thing” to people they want to become stakeholders (customers, shareholders, volunteers, patrons, whatever), and the whole time the other person is nodding their head, agreeing, parroting frustration and/or excitement. But when it comes time for the ask, the response is typically “that sounds great. We’re 100% on board… but…”
The “but” is a obstacle. A hurdle. A buffer between now and action, even though you gave them all of the pertinent information.
If you expect the right person to take the right action just because you’ve given them the right information, you are setting yourself up for a life of disappointment.
Information does not persuade. It simply informs. It may or may not excite or anger or cause other emotion, but even then it seldom prompts action.
It can be frustrating when, given the information, you know what ought to be done and you know the people who need to buy in to get those things done… but when you give those people the information and they even agree with you, they still aren’t moved to action.
Why don’t they just do it?
A Simple Truth
People don’t make rational decisions; they make emotional decisions and rationalize them.
And I don’t mean those people or other people. I mean human beings. All of them. Even you and me. We don’t necessarily want to believe it, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
The difference between them and you is that YOU already have an emotional incentive to take action, and they don’t. Simply presenting the information isn’t going to create that emotional incentive. You have to get personal. You have to make it about them.
An Old Formula… But It Works.
Advertisers have been doing this for 150 years. They developed a formula for it– a step-by-step process– that goes by A.I.D.A.
Presenting your information might win an argument or debate, but if you want to spur action, you need momentum. And AIDA is a surefire way to do that. It’s not the only way. And it isn’t terribly sophisticated. But if you remember one key element, it will work for you.
That one key element is this: no one cares what you want to say.
They will listen to you. They will politely nod their heads. They will appreciate the fact that you are passionate about it and even legitimately agree that it is an excellent product, or a great cause. And then they will pat you on the back, walk away and forget all about you.
Unless you make it about them. Create a story where they are the hero. Or the victim. Paint a picture not simply of life if things don’t change… but of their life if things don’t change. Then paint a picture of their life AFTER that change has taken place. The victim is now free. The hero is celebrated.
It is impossible to make someone do something they don’t already want to do. But it’s not so hard to make them want to do it.
Once they want to do it, then you give them all of the information they need to convince themselves that it’s the right thing to do. You build up the emotional momentum until it is overwhelming, remove the obstacles (objections) in the way, and then you give them a single action as the outlet, the release, for that momentum.
Then get out of the way and watch what happens to anyone who tries to stop them.