Compared to what?

ToSellIsHumanDanPinkDan Pink was our first speaker this morning at the Leadership Summit.  His latest book is To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.  I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to start it on the plane home tomorrow.

In his talk he shared a story about a man sitting on the sidewalk with a sign that said: “I am blind.”  Someone modified the sign to say: “It is springtime and I am blind.”  Donations went way up with the 2nd sign.  Pink’s take on this is that in order to act, we need to have something to compare.  “I am blind” has no comparison implied, but when “It is springtime” is added, the passerby somehow notices the springtime and also notices not being blind herself and thus donates.

He shared two other persuasive techniques that relate.  One is that too much choice results in no choice at all, in many cases.  We’ve seen this before, but it bears repeating.  Don’t give your customers 20 options. Give them 5 and sales will improve.  Too many choices makes the “compared to what” circuitry go haywire.

The other technique is adding a small, honest blemish to the end of an otherwise strong offering can increase attractiveness of that offering.  For example, “These hiking boots are waterproof, have comfortable uppers, durable soles and come with two sets of laces” can be made more attractive by adding “but they only come in two colors, black or brown” to the end.  What this does is brings up the “compared to what” situation for the prospective buyer who then is able to say to himself, “Well, black and brown aren’t so bad” and thus buys.

Where can you add or remove options, or reframe to increase the effectiveness of your persuasion?


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