- Tue, September 06 2011
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
We usually say too much. It makes us less persuasive.
We should not saddle people with the burden of becoming an expert on our topic before asking them to do something about it. A little information goes a long way, and too much can be counterproductive and unconvincing.
The brilliant social psychologist Elliot Aronson has written about the dilution effect, which describes how neutral or irrelevant information can weaken people’s opinions or impressions. He cites an experiment by Henry Zukier in which two students were described to the research subjects as studying 31 hours per week outside of class. For the first student described, that was the only information provided. For the second, additional, irrelevant information was added about the number of siblings the student had and how often the student visited his grandparents, among other facts. The study found that people believed the first student was smarter. The additional information seemed to dilute the main point, which was the number of hours the student studied. If we have a good point to make, it can get lost if we provide too much information around it.
People don’t need to know everything; they simply want to know what is immediately relevant to them.
Make your best case briefly, then stop there.