Need to change minds? Make a weaker argument.

Liberals are baby-killers. Conservatives won’t let women control their own bodies. Conservatives are oil-guzzlers who hate the planet. Liberals are chicken littles who don’t understand the cost of energy. Often, the arguments that we most frequently use to try to change our opponents minds — in policy debates, in communications work, in storytelling — are… Read more

Are you singing or just explaining what singing sounds like?

The famous opera singer Joan Sutherland sang with amazing agility, incredible intonation, and supremely pinpointed staccatos. Critics dissected her voice and technique, but most audiences simply enjoyed the power, emotion and sound they felt when they listened to her majestic voice. To enjoy the music, we don’t have to know all that goes into producing it.… Read more

Need to persuade? Try verbs

Nobody takes an action until they have imagined themselves doing it. Those are wise words from Roy H. Williams — AKA The Wizard of Ads. After sponging up his wisdom for three days, I landed teeming with ideas on how to spur audiences with words and mental images.  A takeaway? Adjectives and adverbs — no matter how… Read more

Why Pavlov is a better marketer than most of us

Ivan Pavlov understood the power of creating associative memories. In his classical conditioning experiment, he linked something his “audience” (e.g. the dog)  wanted — food — with an external stimulus — the bell. Most marketers go straight to the bell — how can I ring it better, louder and more often?  But the important part… Read more

How to surprise the brain to attract attention

A purple cow stands out. A well-known song played in a minor key fascinates. An unexpected twist in a story you thought you knew the end to delights. Why? Humans owe our “need for surprise” to a part of our brain called Broca’s area. It’s a region in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere that is responsible… Read more

11 Reasons Why Your Program Staff Shouldn’t Control Your Marketing

This incredible list comes courtesy of ad man extraordinarie Roy Williams. While he focuses on ads, this list applies to overall non profit marketing as well. 1. The world of advertising is noisier and more crowded than you ever dreamed possible. 2. Even though you are paying money to reach them, prospective customers (e.g. donors)… Read more

How My Fear of Wrinkles Made Me A Loyal Donor: A “You”-tility Case Study

I’m outdoors in sunny Texas as I write this and I’m wearing an Environmental Working Group-endorsed sun screen. I know my sunscreen is safe and effective because EWG told me so. Their research and ultimate seal of approval makes me confident that I am wearing the best protection I can find — wrinkles begone with… Read more