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You Can’t Change Someone’s Mind

By March 11, 2019 2 Comments

Change your mindI’m right and you’re wrong! That attitude is a recipe for disaster in business and in life. If you want to keep your significant-other happy, telling them that they’re wrong is, let’s just say, not a good plan. Similarly, if you want to keep your customers, and employees, happy, telling them they’re wrong is counter-productive. The fact is that you can’t change anyone else’s mind. It’s not yours to change. It’s theirs. What you can do is provide them with information they didn’t have, and then they may decide to come to a different conclusion.

How and when you provide them with that information is more of an art than a science. Every political ad is trying to provide us with information either about their candidate, or their opponent, to get us to change our minds. Which is more effective on you? The positive information, or the negative? While I would rather hear what you can do for me, instead of why the other business, or candidate is bad, those negative comments do have an effect.

Please ignore that statement

My wife watches a lot of crime dramas on TV, which means I watch crime dramas on TV (did I mention that I’m happily married?). Many of you can picture the courtroom scene where a prosecuting attorney says something, the defense attorney objects, the judge allows the objection (“sustained”) and then instructs the jury to disregard what they just heard. That’s impossible. You can’t un-hear something. Now it’s up to the defense attorney to provide information that will get the jury to change their minds about what they’ve just heard.

When we hear conflicting information, we take into account the sources and decide which is more believable, trustworthy and/or influential. We also look to the amount or strength of the information. Let’s say you were looking for a restaurant while on vacation. You go to your favorite source (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, OpenTable…) and do a search. One restaurant comes up at the top of the search, but it’s a “sponsored” listing, meaning they paid to be there. Do you assume them to be the best? Probably not without some corroborating evidence, in other words did they also come up in organic results, or do they have a lot of reviews and a good rating. When it comes to reviews there are three things that matter: 1) the number of reviews 2) the average rating/score and 3) the recency.

Who’s right?

I travel extensively, so I also eat out a lot. When I’m searching for a restaurant I’ll do a search for something in the area, maybe put in a few filters if I/we have a preference for a style, and see what comes up. Knowing that it takes a lot for me to give a 5-star rating to a restaurant, I’m fine with looking at 4’s and 3.5’s. If there aren’t a lot of choices in that range, I’ll work my way down. But I also look at the number of reviews, as I know that with few total reviews, one low rating can bring the average down. I’ll read the low rated review to see what that person, or those people had to say. If it’s just a total rant, I’ll usually ignore it. But if it’s articulate, and specific in their critique, it will influence my decision.

How’s the Mac n’ Cheese?

I was driving in Florida this week when we passed a Bar-B-Que place. My sister and brother-in-law, who live in the area, hadn’t seen this place before, and they love BBQ. So, I looked it up on Yelp and TripAdvisor to see the reviews. After reading a few reviews we started to get a picture of the food and service. The ribs were a universal favorite, with every review having very positive and emotional comments. The Mac n’ Cheese was hit or miss, mostly miss. The more reviews we read, the more we wanted their ribs, but not their Mac n’ Cheese. Then I came across someone who loved the Mac n’ Cheese. Huh? Every other review that had mentioned it had a complaint (not enough cheese, too chewy, no flavor, etc.).

How could it be that this one person was in opposition to all of the other comments? Maybe she liked hers with only a little cheese, or under-cooked. Maybe it was her past experience with Mac n’ Cheese – it’s just like her mother made for her when she was a little girl. Did it change our minds about the Mac n’ Cheese? If we went to this restaurant were we likely to order the Mac n’ Cheese? No. The scales were already tipped against that. The only things that would have possibly changed our minds is if all of the negative Mac n’ Cheese reviews were old, and the positive one(s) were more recent, or if recent reviews talked about how they didn’t used to like it, but now they have a new Mac n’ Cheese recipe, or chef, and now it’s great.

When you don’t know, what you don’t know

It’s the same when your prospects are looking for someone in your category. It’s not just THAT you have a lot of great reviews, it’s WHAT those reviews say. What are the adjectives that they’re using when they rave about you? What are they saying about your competitors? Reviewing a wedding isn’t the same as reviewing a restaurant., but the psychology is similar. Potential customers are reading and are influenced by the specific words and phrases that your past customers are using in their reviews. If those words and phrases resonate with them, they’ll be more likely to contact you. If they don’t, they’ll move on (and you may never know they were interested in the first place).

How can you change their minds?

As I said in the beginning, you can’t actually change the mind of your prospects. You can only provide them with information they didn’t have, and they can choose to come to a different conclusion. First you have to have their attention, which is fleeting. Then you have to present that information in a way that is easy to consume. Many of you have heard me say that your brand is defined by the words of your past customers. Your reviews and testimonials are your brand. And many of you are using reviews and testimonials on your websites and in your marketing. Are you putting them where you have their attention? Are you making them easy to consume?

Is anybody listening?

If you’re putting them on a testimonials page on your website, check your analytics report to see if anyone is actually going there. In my consulting I have never seen a testimonial/reviews/kudos page that has a significant amount of traffic. Most are 1% to 2% of that site’s traffic, with many being well under 1%. That makes sense since we all know that you only put the best comments there, so why should we leave the page we’re on to go see your Love-fest? Some of you have them on your sites, but down low on the page. How often do you get to the bottom of a web page these days? Not that often, and neither do your site’s visitors. You need to put them where they’re already looking, where you already have their attention, high up on the most popular pages.

And then you have to make them easy to consume by making them very short. The longer they are, the less likely they’ll be read. I like to use the metaphor of a speed-bump in the road. It’s one line and it makes you slow down to continue down that road. If you use one-line review snippets throughout the page, supporting your other site copy, it will slow your readers down, but not stop them. We want them to continue down the page as we influence them that they’re in the right place and get them to take the action that we make clear (email, fill out your contact form, text, chat, etc.). You’re not going to get them to pick up a phone and call you just because you want them to. They’re on a web page, they’re much more likely to take a digital next step (email, text, chat, contact form) than change to a phone call. They’re the customer and they’re driving this process, for now. They’re only one click of their BACK button away from one of your competitors. Give them a reason to stay. Then give them a reason to move forward and contact you. But don’t try to change their minds, it’s not yours to change.

© 2019 AlanBerg.com & Wedding Business Solutions LLC


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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Henry says:

    You watch crime dramas because your wife watches crime dramas–thus you’re a happily married man. But, do you like to watch crime dramas?

    • Alan says:

      Sometimes, Henry. I don’t watch much, if any TV when I travel, so at home it’s either what’s on, the news or car related shows.

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