Today’s episode deals with the heartache of a break up.
You don’t want a customer to break up with you, but sometimes they walk away, perhaps into the arms of a competitor. Fortunately a scientific study shows the narrative that is most-likely to get people to stay with you. This short podcast gives you an introduction to this narrative so you can practice using it when customers might just walk away.
Links from the show:
- The NIO Summit – Non-profit Innovation and Optimization summit. My favourite conference.
- The Call to Action Conference – My next favourite (only second because it’s been a couple of years since I enjoyed the delights of this event… I should use the narrative to get them to ask me back). Seriously though – both conferences blow all the others I’ve been to out of the water in the way they look after speakers and attendees.
- The “Why Stay” Study details. A joint study between Dr. Zakary Tormala from Stanford University and Corporate Visions.
- Write with Influence course https://writewithinfluence.com/course/
Hi and welcome to another edition of Write with Influence where I share my persuasive writing and messaging techniques for making more sales in your business.
Well, it’s an industrious time here. We’re having some wonderful summer weather and I have a number of writing and content projects that are keeping me well out of mischief, which is good. One thing I’m preparing for right now is the NIO summit and that is the non-profit innovation and optimization summit. It’s a conference for non-profit marketers and fundraisers who are looking to grow their online fundraising. And what they do at this conference every year is, they bring together experts in marketing and fundraising innovation from all around the world, put them under one roof and then they teach their audience how to achieve real and tangible online fundraising growth.
I’ll be speaking this year, it’s in Denver and I’m fortunate enough that this is my fourth year at the conference. This is definitely one of my favourite, if not my favourite conference, alongside the Call To Action conference in Vancouver. Both are run by a fantastic team of people who just go above and beyond for both speakers and attendees – I’ll link to them in the show notes. If you can get to either of them, if they’re relevant to you, do try and make it.
So, at the moment, I’m thinking about my talk and crafting something for the upcoming event and I thought for today’s podcast I’d actually share a persuasive narrative that I talked about and included in last year’s talk. So, this narrative is all about how to persuade someone to stay with you in a commercial sense. Let’s say you have a customer who’s been with you for a while and maybe it’s coming up to contract renewal time. What can you say to them to make them stay and renew their contract and continue to pay you what you’re worth?
Well, to illustrate this narrative, I want you to think of a time where perhaps you’ve experienced a breakup. Now that I’ve said that, I’ve just got David Soul’s ‘Don’t Give Up On Us Baby’ going round and round in a loop in my head! The reason that I want you to think about this is that, I’ve said in a previous episode (I think it was episode two or three), we are naturally more persuasive than we often think – all you have to do is think about your younger self. We sometimes approach copywriting thinking that we have to fundamentally change the way that we think, that we have to master this black art of persuasive tactics, and we forget sometimes that we have a natural level of persuasion in us. It turns out as well that there is a new scientific study that shows that if you want to get someone to stay with you, it is a little bit like pleading for someone not to break up with you.
Let me explain. I want you to imagine your first love. Maybe you’re in primary school, maybe you’re in secondary school or high school, but you know the one, the one where you’re young and you think it’s going to last forever because you both have the same favourite colour and you’ve got the same star signs and you really like the way that they’ve cut their hair. You know that big important love of your life? You can’t imagine being without them and you spend hours agonising, wondering what they’re thinking and deciding (when you do talk) who is going to hang up first on the telephone. But then something bad happens, they become a little bit distant until one day, they utter those fateful words of, “I think we should break up,” or over here, if you’re young, it just goes, “You’re dumped!” And if we were that other person and we were pleading for this to not happen, here’s a typical narrative that we might try to use . . .
So as an example, let’s work through our breakup scenario. First of all, you can imagine the shock and you might say to your beloved,
“How could you give up on what we’ve built these past three weeks? Remember after gym class where we had a free period and we did nothing but looked into each other’s eyes and stared at our trainers? I mean, do you really want to walk away from all that?”
And then you might remind them what they saw in you in the first place and explain to them,
“You said you were so happy when we first got together. You said that you didn’t know anyone else who knew all the words to every Game of Thrones episode. I mean, don’t you remember how special you said that was?”
And if you’re not getting a response, this is where we might start to get a little bit annoyed if our persuasive tactics aren’t being accepted. And how many times have we heard the phrase, “You’ll never find anyone else like me” being uttered during a breakup? And I hate to say it, but if they’re breaking up with you, it’s probably because they don’t want anyone else like you. But that’s beside the point. What we’re really saying when we utter this line or lines like this is, there will be a risk of regret if you walk away. And finally, the last plea that we make is,
“Things will be different. I can change. Things are going to improve; things are going to get better.”
You’ve probably heard something similar to this if you’ve ever tried to leave your utility company for gas or electric, certainly then, when they know you’re leaving, they become very charming and throw in all the discounts. Up until then, they’ll just happily take your money!
Now, as I said, this ‘Breakup example’ is a very simple example. And it might sound a little bit simplistic or even a little bit dramatic as I’m not actually going to say these kinds of things to my customer but it does actually closely reflect the persuasive principles revealed (as I mentioned before) in a new scientific study about how people decide whether to stay with someone or not. But the ‘someone’ in this study isn’t to do with a breakup and it is not to do with a romantic relationship. It’s actually a study about how people make decisions when considering the renewal of a contract. And this research has been done for a commercial interest (I’ll link to details about the study). But when I talked about it at last year’s NIO Summit, I looked at it from the perspective of how you could use this narrative if you wanted to get people to donate to your organization. If people have donated once, how could you perhaps play this out in your copy to get them to donate again?
So, let me tell you a little bit about the study. . .
Dr. Zakary Tormala is a social psychologist from Stanford and he teamed up with Corporate Visions to run this study and see what messaging was best for encouraging someone to stay with a company that they had once signed up for.
The study is really interesting and if you’re interested in sales messaging, I encourage you to read more about it but for the purpose of this podcast, I’m going to boil it down to the main points to give you some ideas that you can try in your copy.
So a successful message needs two main things really; first is to document the specific results of your partnership and share those details first before trying to get someone to choose you again, which is pretty much like the “Do you want to walk away from all these things that we have built together?” in our breakup example.
The next thing that you need to do is to provide more details about the recent advances or new developments in your solution. So, in the non-profit environment, this could be recent advances in what an organization is doing to help the cause and to prove that progress is being made.
The way that Dr. Zakary Tormala and Corporate Visions break down the narrative is basically like this:
- Document the results that you have had together – the good times that you’ve had by working in partnership together.
- Remind them what a good choice it was that they made in the first place – that choice didn’t come lightly – maybe they decided to invest in your company or service or donate to your cause?
- Show why it’s still important for them to continue the relationship – if they walk away, what is the cost or risk of that to them? What might they miss out on? If they pull away from the support of your organisation, what projects or what initiatives might not be possible if they no longer have the support? Show them that they’re still important and that walking away isn’t without consequence (obviously without scaremongering).
- Explain new developments, progress and advancements that you’ve made.
So how might this play out in a fundraising example?
Well, I wrote a very simple narrative, more for prompts really, that people could use. But basically, you could begin by saying:
When you initially supported us, your donation had a significant impact – you helped us.
Then list some of the achievements that have been made possible by them and tell them what you were able to provide, what initiatives you were able to run, maybe even explain how many people you were able to help in that period of time. Then you can move on and reinforce why they made that decision in the first place. So, you could say:
I know that this particular goal is really important to you. I know what you wanted to achieve; you wanted to see homeless people and vulnerable people better protected with more security, more food and access to better support and because you supported us, you helped achieve exactly that.
Then move on to why they are so critical and here you can include the ask. You might say:
You are really critical to this cause and I want you to consider supporting the new initiatives that we have and that we can provide with your help. Now, without you, we will continue to work to do all the things that we’re able to do but it is much easier to prevent this problem from getting bigger with you standing alongside us. In fact, since you first donated, there are some new things that you might not know we’ve been involved in where we’ve been working hard to achieve this particular goal. In fact, since last year we have dug five more wells/ we have built five new schools. . .
Whatever it may be, show some specific results to show that you are advancing and you are making progress. Then, again, introduce the ask:
Will you help us to increase [whatever it is that you want to achieve, whatever it is that you want to get to].
Following on from this, perhaps give a time frame to inspire some urgency.
Obviously, I’m dipping in and out here with examples of structure and suggestions of where you could swap in your specifics but it doesn’t sound like a pleading breakup story and yet it uses a lot of the similar psychological, persuasive techniques that we see in both and that has been proven to encourage people to really consider renewing that contract.
So just to recap, first of all you need to document results, show them the good times that you’ve had together. Next, remind them why that initial choice to support you was the right choice. And then explain to them why this choice is still important – because there is a risk if they walk away. And finally, explain those new developments, show them that progress and advancements are being made.
Another short and sweet one from me. Thanks again for listening and do check out the links for the NIO summit and for the Call To Action conference, which I mentioned, and also the study as well by Corporate Visions and Dr. Zakary Tormala that I’ll link to.
I will be back shortly. Don’t forget to send in any copy questions that you might have and you can find more about me and the lessons I teach at www.writewithinfluence.com.
Until next time, keep believing.
Don’t give up on us baby . . .
Just a little bit of a David Soul for anyone that stayed to the very end!