Thu, May 05 2011

The 6 things I wish I’d known 20 years ago

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Read more by this author

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

I gave a speech yesterday in Florida at the United Partners for Human Services Annual Conference for Excellence in Nonprofit Management & Leadership.  All of us in the room had one thing in common – a struggle to persuade amid real resource constraints.  I decided to assemble a greatest hits presentation on influence.  The result was a list of six things I wish I’d known when I started out my career over 20 years ago:

1. We’re all in the business of happiness.  People want to help good causes, and when they do, they get a helper’s high.  Doing good makes people happy.  When times are tough and your needs are great, try to step back from what you want people to do and focus on what you have to give: the gift of making a difference and the happiness that comes with supporting your cause.  It works better than scarcity thinking every time.

2. It’s not about us, it’s about our audience.  The best case you can make is one connected to the values of your audience, not your own.  It isn’t about what’s in it for you; it’s about what’s in it for them.

3. Feelings first, facts later. The worst case you can make is to throw data at a doubter.  They’ll just take whatever you say and flip it around in their mind to support their deeply held beliefs.  Forge an emotional connection based on their values so the facts have a fighting chance.

4. Nothing beats a good story about one person.  Not data, not facts, not science.  If you want to get attention, make an impression and influence people, tell a good story about just one person.  That is the one guaranteed way to make people care.

5. Messengers matter. You can do everything right in messaging, but if you’re the wrong messenger, the message will fail coming from you.  Think about who is a trusted peer or authority figure for your audience and let them do the talking.

6. Be generous when you’re hungry. This is something Seth Godin once said, and it’s so true.  Be generous if you want to inspire generosity in others.  This isn’t easy when your need is great and you’re hungry for dollars.  But try it – it works.  I’ve never regretted shining the spotlight on someone else, doling out advice for free or giving of myself before asking for myself.  It feels good, and people respond.

  • Comments