Persuading people to agree with you and do what you’re asking them to do is difficult. Whether you want them to buy your product or service, vote in a particular way, or make different lifestyle choices, it involves understanding the Ugly Green Drink.
For my son, drinking smoothies is all about flavor. Imitating Starbuck’s new smoothie glamour or pushing veggie health won’t convince him to drink the Ugly Green Drink. I tried that.
It has to taste good, and if it’s green, then that’s just not possible according to the Book of Hungry Teen Boys. Despite being ugly and green, it’s just as good as purple or red smoothies, but try telling that to a green-phobic youth.
He helped me earn my badge in the art of persuasion. Now it’s your turn to learn the Ugly Green Drink technique and get the help you need to persuade people.
Say What You Have To Say
How you say something is as important as what you say. If you say something with anger or resentment, your listener will put up automatic defenses. If you say something with drama and self-judgment, it will be received as dramatic and worthy of judgment.
When I said the Ugly Green Drink was better for him than fruit-only smoothies, and if he couldn’t see past the green then he wasn’t trying to be an adult, I was the know-it-all mother. And he held fast to his question-mom-in-everything thinking.
Like the story in Seth Godin’s Poke the Box when the 1860s Hungarian doctor realized washing hands would save lives. No one listened to him. Can you guess why? Because he knew it all and didn’t bother to pretend otherwise. He was a pompous jerk.
Say what you have to say by taking into account how you say it so your audience will think you have something worth listening to.
Frame Your Story So It Fits Their World View
People suffer from what can be called a “moral empathy gap.” This inability to comprehend moral world views that are different from our own renders us incapable of persuading others to adopt our position.
In other words, you can’t persuade someone to take a different course of action or buy a product you want them to buy when you use your own system of belief. Without empathy, your attempts at persuasion will fall flat.
The Ugly Green Drink didn’t need to be healthy or a status symbol. Unlike Mikey of the Life cereal ad, persuading my son to like it was not as simple as shoving a bowl in front of him. I needed to use empathy and step inside his shoes.
“This is the ugliest drink you’re ever going to try; it’s as disgusting looking as the bottom of your backpack.” However, if I can persuade him that green doesn’t mean it tastes like cooked spinach, I’ve won. But first I have to get on his plane of thinking.
They’re Not Wrong
It’s close to impossible to persuade people that they are wrong and then have them do something differently. You can convince them with facts and figures by appealing to their intellect, but you can persuade them by “appeals made to the will, moral sense, or emotions.”
Godin reminds us that marketers don’t convince, they persuade. Moms serving Ugly Green Drinks must also learn the fine art of appealing to the passions, fears, and fancies of their target teens. Forget the brain and go for the heart.
Unless it’s brains you’re eating. “It’s so gross! If you drink it, you’ll be drinking monkey brains!” That was enough of a challenge for Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes to eat his smelly dinner. It warrants a try.
Help persuade your audience to make a change or a new decision instead of admit they’re wrong. Arnold Schwarzenegger shows us how with his bold, four-asterisk word in an appeal to our future.
Use Placebos To Surround What You’ve Built
Godin’s Placebos begins with a story illustrating how placebos work. A guy walks into a health food store with a nasty cold and asks for the strongest placebo they’ve got. Unfortunately, that particular store didn’t carry any.
“A placebo is a story we tell ourselves that changes the way our brain and body work,” Godin says. You have to first make something terrific that works, and then you have to build a story around it to break through all the noise and competition.
This is emotion again, the appeal to the heart and soul of your audience by going beyond the obvious features and benefits. “With the Ugly Green Drink you can forget about having to fork up boring vegetables. And you’ll be chugging down added protein you want for sports. All in mere seconds!”
I’m thinking Popeye the Sailor Man. He’s probably thinking The Expendables. Whatever works. Build a story around your great idea, product, or service, and let the placebo effect kick in.
Make Metaphors Happen
The Ugly Green Drink is my metaphor. It gives you imagery, helps you to understand the idea, and makes it easier to communicate it with others.
Put your metaphors at the beginning of your story. This way your audience doesn’t have to work so hard to understand your argument. The metaphor is the lens that focuses them in on your idea and helps to persuade them to think and act differently.
When you get others to drink the Ugly Green Drink, you’re persuading them to do something they might not want to do otherwise.
Pay It Forward
Simple reciprocity is a great persuasive device. Give someone an unexpected gift and you will create a need to reciprocate. Like the notion of pay it forward, people like to return favors as a way of showing their gratefulness. Think of how in your personal life you’re more inclined to ask someone for a favor if you’ve done a favor for them.
Businesses are applying this principle every day by offering free ebooks, free trial memberships, free samples, etc. The feeling of gratefulness for the free information creates a tendency to feel obligated to return the favor and make a purchase or a recommend to a friend.
Make sure you understand your audience and what they want before using reciprocity to influence their choices. Persuasion is most effective when the right favor is granted.
Offering my son a bowl of tortilla chips to go with the Ugly Green Drink will be far more persuasive than a dish of crunchy kale. Maybe I’ll work on kale chips next since I’m on a green roll.