Changing minds

How do you persuade someone of something?

It took me a while to learn that logic, rhetoric and emotion aren’t always the most effective ways of changing people’s minds. It’s so tempting to think that if one argues better, stronger or more passionately then the opponent will yield. In fact, it often pushes them away and may even entrench them in their original views. More respectful approaches are usually required.

The same is true online. Whether you are selling a product or an idea, you have to start by acknowledging that your customer or audience will respond better if they feel in control.

In real life or online, a successful act of persuasion comes in three parts:

  1. Telling a story to entice people’s interest and give them a way to understand your idea on both rational and emotional levels.
  2. Hosting a conversation to help people interpret what they’ve heard and fit it into their worldviews.
  3. Leading to action to help people achieve their goals and yours.

This framework is helpful because questions can then be asked at each stage:

  1. Telling a story
    • Who are you telling it to?
      A customer/audience segment
    • What’s the story?
      An inviting journey wrapped around your idea
    • How do you reach them?
      The right content delivered through the right channels
  2. Have a conversation
    • Who do they want to talk with?
      Each other and you
    • What do they want to talk about?
      Your idea and their experiences
    • How should you host the conversation?
      The right social and community platforms
  3. Lead to action
    • What do you want them to do?
      Fulfil their goals and yours
    • How do they take action?
      By changing their behaviour

The answers form the beginnings of an online marketing plan.

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