People often get confused when I tell them communications is about selling, and not just selling a service, a product, a policy proposal but an idea.
“We have facts and figures to prove our point,” one says.
Indeed. Logic can help prove a position, especially when it is scientifically sound.
Also, Emotions are often employed to convince and persuade.
Both above are necessary to make your audience agree with you.
Yet one mustn’t forget, it is not science or sentiments alone that will make them take action – either to support you, or to buy your products.
It is the idea, that will make them do that.
Let me take the analogy of marketing a set of sofa, for example.
You know who you want to target to buy your sofa. You know how to convince them too, about how durable it is and how sturdy it is compared to other brands of sofas. That is science. You also know how to touch them with emotions, by adding cute kittens and playful kids in your video ad. But what would make them go out there and buy your sofa, is the idea that “who they will be when they are seen with the sofa in their house”.
You need to understand the idea is the reason for which your target audience will answer to your call to action. In this case, it is their self-image of who they are. It may not be who they actualy are, but who they aspire to be. So your ad, apart from all the science and sentiments, need to showcase the idea that will propel them to act.
Selling an idea is not just restricted to marketing. Let’s look at public affairs.
You have a position paper which you want to convince a certain MP to support. It is filled with justifications and facts. You have also prepared a video to go with the position, to highlight the plight of people so grossly affected by the current situation so that your target politician will certainly be touched.
But what makes the politician act? It is the idea that he or she will be able to be a champion of the victims. It is the idea that he or she will be to be associated with a newsworthy and socially revolutionary cause. So your communications is not just about what should be done and why it should be done. It is also about creating that idea that matches the mental self-image of your target audience.
Any thoughts about this? Feel free to comment below.
Eureka Moments are not so much moments of sudden realisation or enlightenment like Archimedes. They are moments while I am in my commute when I get to reflect on things that someone mentioned to me, things that I am confronted with, things that I or others have sought a solution for. They are more ‘oh I get it’ rather than ‘I have discovered it’.