- Fri, July 25 2008
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Here’s the last of my thoughts, pulled from my book, on benefit exchanges. Don’t forget: you can’t ask for action without them!
If we make promises about our nonprofit, especially bold ones, we need to support them. We don’t need to quantify every reward or produce scientific evidence for every point we propose. We simply need to show that our benefit exchange is credible. In other words, we need to ensure that the action we ask for is feasible and the reward we offer is possible.
Facts and figures are one approach to sounding reliable, but the problem is that they are quickly forgotten. Also, a lot of people don’t trust them. We need to make statistics as personal as possible so they will be remembered and believed. The average person won’t recall how many pounds of nitrates run off into a river or the concentration of E. coli in parts per million in an aquifer, but they will remember the poop in the tap water.
A slew of psychological studies have shown that vivid personal stories are incredibly convincing, far more so than quantifiable statistics. I make many decisions about the products I buy, the books I read, and the places I go based on recommendations from people I respect. I think the person who offers the testimonial or stars in the success story we use is as important as the story itself. The right messengers lend great credibility to our claims. We should choose messengers who are known or respected by our audience or their immediate peers. We can also add credibility to our message by convincing our audience it can take action without too much effort and fuss. If an action seems like a big undertaking, that perception will undermine the idea that rewards are attainable. For this reason a lot of private-sector advertising has the word easy in it. It’s also why people love remote controls and drive-through windows. We don’t want to have to work too hard to get what we want.
Another approach is showing our audience members that many people like them are taking the action. Social psychologists and marketing experts talk about the power of “social norms” or “social proof.” Social proof is the powerful idea that if we believe everyone is acting in a certain way, we’re likely to act that way too. We’re conformists by nature, and we take our cues about how to think and what to do from those around us.