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What So Much “Persuasive” Communication Lacks…

…is a clear direction forward. We spend so much time and energy convincing people why they should do something, the how becomes almost peripheral. It’s attached at the end as a quick “call to action,” a single, generic line or paragraph, tacked on seemingly as an afterthought. The thinking seems to be: we’ve done such good job convincing people of the importance of this thing, we can leave it to them to figure out how to deal with it.

"Clear Directions" being, of course, a relative term.

Not so. Lacking clear directions for how to move forward, people can be 100% convinced that they need your product or service, and still do nothing about it.

Don’t believe us? Check this out: a group of scientists trying to persuade students to get a vaccine divided their audience into two groups, giving one a soft sell (“get vaccinated or you’ll get sick”) and the other a hard sell (“look at these awful pictures of what can happen if you don’t get vaccinated”).

The hard sell was certainly more effective on a emotional level — the students were terrified — but it made almost no difference behaviorally. Despite their terror, almost no one in either group went to get a vaccine.

But when scientists started including a map to the on-campus clinic, “compliance” numbers jumped significantly in both groups.

The lesson here is that while your video has to do a great job of answering “so what?” it should give equal weight to the “so what now?” Remember: human beings aren’t strictly rational creatures. Just because we’re convinced something may be in our best interests, doesn’t mean we’ll take the initiative to follow up or follow through. It’s usually easier to push aside the message of hope or fear and go on living our lives.

You’re competing with our natural laziness and attention deficiencies. Give us some simple and clear next steps, or the compelling message that came before goes to waste.

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