Monday, September 19, 2005

Customers Will Hear What They Want to Hear

Dave Pollard wrote a post on why we don't share information with one another ... well, to be exact, he says we share peer-to-peer but not up or down. His insights are good reading and helped me come to a better understanding of this age-old problem.

One of his points, however, aligns with contextual marketing as much as it explains the lack of information sharing:

"People only accept and internalize information that fits with their mental models and frames: Ask people after a presentation what they learned and what they thought was the central message, and you'll find that most people will respond with something that reinforces what they already believed, which is often very different from, and sometimes even contradicts, what the speaker actually said."
This Pollard insight is another reason so much of our communications to customers fails to click with them. If we are not on their wave length, they will read into our messages what they want to hear; not necessarily what we want them to hear. The more relevant our messages, the more likely the messages will click.


At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Diana said...

What you are saying is very correct. There is a theory in Communication, The Social Judgment Theory. Essentially the theory states that people will only be persuaded information that is very similar to their current beliefs. For this reason, in order to affectively persuade one must first evaluate where the messages fall in relation to the person’s current beliefs and then we must change our message to make it more similar to that of the current person’s beliefs. A message that is to different from the person’s views will create a contrast error while messages to similar will create assimilation errors.

To explain it better, I think about what it is like being a Democrat in the South. As a member of the Democratic Party, I often see my fellow members adopting issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Constantly, I warn them not to align themselves with these messages. But, when it does happen, undecided voters are likely to experience a Contrast Error. These undecided voters hear the words “Gay Marriage” and suddenly they ignore everything else coming out of the candidates mouth. On the other hand, a candidate who attempts to be too similar the Republican Party would create assimilation errors. It is in my opinion that Democratic candidates in the South need to speak about issues like the economy, taxes, etc. which will fall closer to the persons beliefs then will the controversial issues.

I think this could also help in marketing, if a marketer understands what the consumer’s beliefs are they can ensure not to create contrast and assimilation errors.


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