Most people who sell radio rely on data and statistics.
Data and statistics are boring. A client will say they want data when what they really want is confidence. They want to have confidence in your station, confidence in your schedule, confidence in the ad. They want to know this is going to work.
It’s hard to give other people confidence when you don’t have it yourself. Do you have it? If not, I beg you to find it. Your career will forever rise and fall with the level of your confidence.
Scientists are willing to change their beliefs when presented with data, facts, and figures. But very few of your prospective customers will be scientists. This is why you must accommodate their perspectives, reinforce their biases, anticipate their preferences, and leverage their stereotypes.
You may think you’re winning the argument when you quote facts and figures, numbers and shares, quarter hours and cumes, qualitative data and underwear sizes, but Dale Carnegie was right: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
Anyone who has ever attempted to use numbers to overcome an irrational belief knows that Carnegie was right. You may win the debate with facts and figures, but they will rarely win you the sale.
In the words of Andrew Lang, we generally use statistics “as a drunken man uses a lamppost, for support rather than for illumination.”
You must learn to provide illumination. You’ve got to be able to turn on the light in your customer’s mind.
Data, facts, and figures are not the keys to the mind.
The keys to the mind are metaphors, connecting the unfamiliar to the familiar, the unknown to the known. According to Dr. Ricardo Gattass of the Institute of Biophysics, metaphors employ “symbolic thought,” the only type of thought that bridges the unconscious to the conscious, the right brain to the left, the category to the specific, the pattern to the purpose.
1. Verbal thought is the sound of words in the mind.
2. Analytical thought embraces data, facts, and logic. Both this and verbal thought are rooted primarily in the logical left brain.
3. Abstract thought embraces patterns of events and patterns of answers. It’s a non-verbal, subjective reality built on personal preferences, prejudices, and stereotypes. Abstract thought is mostly right-brain thought.
4. Symbolic thought is a bridge that begins in the land of abstract thought and ends in the land of analytical thought. Success stories, parables, and metaphors are powerful expressions of symbolic thought. This makes them far more persuasive than numbers.
You’ve heard it said that “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.” Yet each of us routinely crafts our own facts from the fabric of personal experiences, preferences, and prejudices.
A stereotype is nothing more than a pattern we’ve observed. This pattern isn’t always predictive, but it is a pattern nonetheless, and we trust it. We base our stereotypes in the misbegotten belief that we have correctly interpreted our past experiences and that our preferences and prejudices are, in fact, correct and reliable interpretations of objective reality.
We’re a funny, funny species, aren’t we?
We’re coaching a basketball game. Cedric makes four baskets in less than two minutes, so we conclude that Cedric has “a hot hand,” he’s “in the zone and has a feel for the basket,” so we instruct the other players to feed Cedric the ball.
Does it surprise you to learn that all the data clearly indicates that a player who makes four consecutive baskets in less than two minutes of game time is no more likely to make his next shot than usual? But every coach, every player, and every fan of the sport will continue to feed Cedric the ball.
We don’t trust data nearly so much as we trust our hearts. You need to keep this in mind when making your next presentation.
Win the heart, and the mind will follow.
Don’t fill your messages with data. Because a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
Instead, use success stories, parables, and metaphors that will connect your idea to your customer’s inner world. When you’ve won the battle for your client’s gut feelings, then all that remains is to provide them with whatever logic and data they require to justify what their heart has already decided.
Symbolic thought is the key that opens the heart and mind.
You must have confidence before you can transfer confidence to your customer. Most radio people are in desperate need of confidence.
Techniques don’t mean much when you don’t have confidence.
Have I helped you at all? I hope so.
Sell yourself first. The rest is easy.