- Thu, December 20 2007
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Today’s edition asks the question, what do Mac users, Hillary Clinton and alcoholics have in common? Noah Goldstein, Ph. D., explains:
First-time Mac users have switched from IBM-compatible personal computers, longstanding members of Alcoholics Anonymous have turned their lives around by abstaining from alcohol, and Hillary Clinton switched political affiliations from Republican to Democrat over thirty years ago. In a sense, all three are converts of one form or another. But what can a convert do for us when it’s important to persuade others to take our point of view, give us buy-in for our initiatives, or take a particular course of action?
Social scientists John Levine and Ronald Valle conducted a study to find out. In their study, they had participants listen to a persuasive message in which the speaker was clearly an outspoken critic of alcohol use. Whereas some participants learned that the speaker had abstained from alcohol his whole life, others learned that the speaker was formally a heavy drinker who quit drinking two years prior. The results of the study revealed that participants were far more persuaded by the speaker who was formally a heavy drinker than the lifelong teetotaler. Although there are several reasons why convert communicators are more persuasive, perhaps the most powerful is that they are simply viewed as more experienced in the domain of their conversion. It’s this experience that leads audience members to view them as more of an expert authority on that topic.
This research suggests that when trying to convince others that your position is the right one, you should look for people who have converted to your way of thinking. For example, within an organization, this might mean that when trying to get employees to willingly adopt a new software system, you should ask others who have already adopted it to pitch the idea to more stubborn employees. Similarly, when attempting to get prospective clients to switch to your product from another company’s, try to solicit testimonials from others who have made the same switch, and then convey these testimonials to your prospects.
This is a great insight. People listen to converts. I think converts are not only credible to an audience, they are also especially passionate and eloquent spokespeople.
So who are your converts? Could they speak for you? Any skeptical donors who have seen the light? Any beneficiaries who have done a 180? Find them, and give them a platform to talk about their conversion. People will listen.