Mike Donohue a colleague of over 30 years during his 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies) and ANA (Association of National Advertisers) career embraced the emerging digital world and was a cheer leader for many of the first pioneers in the space. A few years ago, he casually noted that to be convincing one needed a four, five and six letter word.
I began to think more about this statement and have come to believe that in today’s hurly burly and polarized word we could all benefit from asking whether our arguments, points of view and sales pitches reflect these criteria.
Today we live in a data driven age. So much so that people refer to data as the new oil (though the value is in the refining of this oil and not the oil itself, but that is a different story) and every company is fixated on a data strategy.
Data today is a magic illuminant in that it reveals as many questions as it answers and shines a light on co-relationships, we may have not been aware of.
As importantly, if we do not incorporate facts and numbers into our thinking it is highly unlikely that one can will either be correct or convincing.
Being comfortable with data and leveraging its use is a key to impact today.
But it is key to remember two other things when leveraging data.
While data is necessary it is rarely sufficient for a competitive advantage since almost every firm has access to most of the same data and it is how one extracts math from the meaning that creates value and insights.
Secondly, we should not overly fixate on data since human beings select with their hearts and use numbers to justify what they do and so many times different people looking at the same data come up with different conclusions.
So, we need more than data and facts to be persuasive.
Larry Light once wrote that we should not confuse truth and trust: truth is a fact; trust is a feeling.
While we are surrounded by algorithms that are data driven, digital and operated on silicon chips, we should never forget that people are analog, carbon based and feeling driven.
If someone does not trust us it does not matter how much data, we bring to the fight. We are likely to fail to convince them to see things our way.
Today, many tech companies and others are rightly focused on winning back trust.
On the other hand, if one is trusted the person or team you are trying to convince will fill in the gaps of the missing data with the emotional bond or past history, they have with you or your reputation.
Trust not only enables for decisions without complete data but also something else.
Trust is speed.
Many people who often get things done fast do so without resorting to deep decks filled with rows of numbers.
Things move fast because they engender trust.
There is the story and then there is the back story.
If your story is built on data and the storyteller has trust than we should assume impact, right?
Not necessarily because the listener, buyer, and decision-maker are also looking for or running in their mind a back-story.
The back-story is what is motivating the speaker/seller and what is animating these numbers.
What is the intent?
Is the intent one that is more than a sale or a transaction? Is the intent selfish or one of mutual success? Is this a move among other moves and are you pawn on a chess board, or can you see the play?
Good data leveraged by a person that has trust must also have good intent to have impact.
To ensure clear intent it helps to be transparent about one’s goals, incentives, and metrics of success.
Meld the back story and the story in the foreground by signally clear and good intentions that are mutually beneficial.
So, as we try to convince someone to align with our point of view or to make a decision in our favor, we should not forget we will need the four, five and six letter words.
Data. Trust. Intent.
Photography by Flora Borsi
Does Purpose help brands become more trusted and align their intent with good or is it a TRAP? Forget everything you know about Brand Purpose! The latest episode of What Next? Now on all global podcast platforms!
Thomas Kolster, recognised marketing and sustainability expert and author of “The Hero Trap”, discusses the ‘brand purpose’ movement he helped to kick-start and his disappointment about what it is today. Hear how brands have gone from being“heroes”to falling into “hero traps”and how they need to move from being the answer to becoming an enabler, from a brand-centric to people-centric model and at the very heart, how brands should be less about their stories than the stories they enable people to tell about themselves.
Rishad Tobaccowala is an author, speaker, educator and advisor who helps people see, think and feel differently about growth. Growth of their business, their teams and themselves. Check out Rishad’s workshops that companies world wide are leveraging to unleash their talent and enhance their productivity: The Workshops. For more about Rishad Tobaccowala click here.