Monthly Archives: October 2012

Changing Changes that Never Changed

Criticism is a great persuasion box. Everyone hates to get criticized, especially in public as with a bad review on Yelp. But, a lot of public criticism, like a bad review on Yelp, has no Countable impact. Remember this post from . . . hmmmm . . . 2009 on the economic impact of Yelp reviews?

Michael Luca crunches the numbers for Seattle restaurants from 2003 to 2009 and finds, drum roll, an average gain of 7% (plus or minus 2%) in annual revenue. Thus, if 4 star restaurants earn $1,000,000 a year, 5 star restaurants earn $1,070,000. Expressed in Windowpane terms, a Small Windowpane would be 10% so this is 30% smaller than a Small Effect. That’s pretty small and pretty close to a zero effect, but because Luca has a huge sample of observations, even something this small is statistically significant and thus reportable in a paper.

Hey, Steve, it’s economic hard times so even a very Small gain of 7% is important! Doncha get it? Well, so I do get that, but I also get the point that this 7% gain may be untrue, an instance of Fooled By Randomness. The data are observational with a lot of adjustment and the effect size is barely detectably above random variation. Rather than jump all in with those Yelp reviews (and others from the Wisdom of the Crowds social media websites), I’d suggest that the reviews may have less impact than you think.

But, I’d be wrong as this WSJ story demonstrates.

Small businesses are increasingly turning to online reputation-management services, often in an effort to bury negative reviews posted on websites such as Yelp Inc. and Angie’s List Inc.

Small businesses think that Yelp has Changed their business so they buy a persuasion expert to Change the Change the Changed the business!

Small and midsize U.S. businesses are expected to spend $700 million on tech tools or platforms to monitor customer opinions on the Web over the next year, more than double the spending in the past 12 months, according to BIA/Kelsey, a Chantilly, Va., media-research firm. Some of the services make bold promises. Profile Defenders, which launched last year in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said in a May 31 news release that it “100% guarantees to get rid of unwanted Yelp results” for a base fee of $5,000. “There are certain loopholes on Yelp that we’ve been able to manipulate legally,” Richart Ruddie, the chief executive, said in an interview.

The WSJ article does a nice job of balancing the pro’s and con’s of this artful persuasion. The writer contacts the good people at Angie’s list who say they diligently search for manipulation attempts precisely to combat these persuasion tactics. Thus any Mom and Pop who buys RestorationReputation.com™©® will pay for disappointment!

But, the point the article does not address is my opening concern. The reviews apparently have very small impact, positive or negative, for business as a whole. Please realize that RestorationReputation.com™©® aims at a big problem for all Mom and Pops, not just a couple of isolated cases. Their argument is that Yelpish operations play a major role in all Mom and Pop businesses. I’d like to see the Counts on that Change.

Think about that. We’ve got some Counting that demonstrates Yelpish feedback plays a very Small role in business success (at least for the big chains like Starbucks). Where’s the Count for showing you can Change back a bad Change to make more change? I suspect that the ReputationRestoration.com™©® guys probably answer that with a rational argument (“It stands to reason!”) rather than with empirical arguments (“I’ll show you the money!”).

And, that’s the fun persuasion play for you practical players out there. All the Other Guys hate public criticism even though on average it has virtually no impact on the bottom line. Hmmm, the Other Guys have fear? See any persuasion possibilities there? Hey, we could develop ReputationRestoration.com™©® that sometimes actually removes bad reviews, but more importantly, we tell the Other Guys all the good things we’re going to say about Them to at least balance off the bad thing that makes Them so fearful. Do you think that Other Guys would like to see a campaign that says good things about Them? Do you think that Other Guys would pay for such a campaign? All in the name of ReputationRestoration?

Realize that this practical persuasion is just another kind of campaign that Mom and Pop are buying. M&P think they are trying to kill that criticism, but really all they are doing is buying a persuasion campaign. And they want to buy that persuasion because of the persuasion box created from the Wisdom of the Yelpish Crowds and all that . . . grrrrr . . . feedback.

I’m sure that some of you are shaking your head at me right now, laughing at my naiveté. It’s obvious that bad reviews hurt business and it’s obvious that repairing those bad reviews will help business. If it’s that obvious, I just ask you to do an easy thing.

Count the Change.

Show me the model with data that first Counts the Bad Change from the bad Yelpish reviews then Counts the Good Change from the ReputationRestoration.com™©® persuasion campaign and then Counts the Good Bottom Line for Mom and Pop. Don’t tell me it stands to reason this happens because when you tell me that all you are telling me is that you are easy, ripe, and luscious. Just like all those M&Ps buying this persuasion play from those sand and ice mavens at RestorationReputation.com™©®.

P.S. I’ll be obvious. Bad reviews generate fear. Fear creates a fabulous Persuasion Box. Run Persuasion Plays that make the fear recede (i.e. show a story board with lots of positive statements about M&P, run a “focus group” with M&P personnel about what they think is good about M&P, then incorporate those claims into campaign messages). Create a report with tons of those groovy Web infographics based upon Tooth Fairy Tale statistics when all you do is swamp Yelp with faux reviews. Cash the M&P check and move on.

P.P.S. How do you price your persuasion? The more fear from M&P, the higher your price.

P.P.P.S. Most of the money you make from persuasion comes not from Changing all the Other Guys, but from Changing just the Other Guys Writing The Checks.

P.P.P.P.S. Ain’t Social Media great? They sell you that SM brings you together then sell you that SM tears you apart when SM doesn’t do anything except mess with your feelings.

Biased Processing with Exercise and Diet

Most people, including many scientists and researchers, dispute this, but science indicates that diet and exercise play an exceedingly modest role in life and death, maybe a 48/52 Windowpane or less and that’s still with all the drama observational designs provide. And, again most people, including many scientists and researchers, think that there are magic bullets of particular kinds of exercise or diet when the best science indicates a very simple model of eat less of any and all calories to lose weigh and exercise if you like it. As an example of this science you can read this pretty good pop press description from Gretchen Reynolds in the NYT.

Two groundbreaking new studies address the irksome question of why so many of us who work out remain so heavy, a concern that carries special resonance at the moment, as lean Olympians slip through the air and water, inspiring countless viewers to want to become similarly sleek. And in a just world, frequent physical activity should make us slim. But repeated studies have shown that many people who begin an exercise program lose little or no weight. Some gain.

Reynolds provide links to the studies and if you want another Brick in the Wall, I’d encourage you to read them. They are old, but interesting, news.

What I really want you to read are the reader comments. They are gold mine examples of Biased Processing. While you can find some examples of that Peripheral Route, top of the head, heuristic processing as commenters accept or reject without much thought, in the main, the comments betray High WATT activity. The commenter’s are thinking about this post, searching for and scrutinizing Arguments, those crucial bits of persuasion information that bear directly on the issue.

Yet, as you read those High WATT comments you clearly see that they aim at maintaining that nonscience conclusion that Diet and Exercise are Crucial to Life and Death and a Skinny Butt. You see clear instances of how High WATT thinkers carefully cut and trim the Arguments to make them fit their pre-existing Bias – some conclusion, belief, attitude, value, scheme, routine, habit – that says Diet and Exercise Are Crucial.

Folks provide their case history and how their life changed with this fruit, that exercise routine, or these supplements. They remember a study from The Lancet that proves the article wrong. They find a detail, fragment, or whisper of error, ambiguity, or flexibility in the article to discount it. In ELM terms they derogate a Strong Argument to make it seem Weak and they bolster a Weak Argument to make it seem Strong.

It is easy to manipulate the Bias – just prime up a Conclusion. Make people think about a stereotype associated with women or minorities or athletes or Diet and Exercise, and you can trigger Biased Processing. The function is in our human nature, hard-wired into our brains, just like a reflexive eye blink to a puff. You don’t learn Biased Processing, just being human is all that is required.

More interesting is the relationship between Biased Processing and the self concept. Almost anytime a key element of your self concept is activated, you are vulnerable to Biased Processing. We live in a life-saturated culture that thinks death is as controllable as room temperature with central air, so it’s not surprising that diet and exercise are now strongly connected to our self concepts. A consequence of peace and prosperity is that everyone thinks they should live forever without challenge or distress and you can fix it when problems arise. Thus, diet and exercise have become as important elements of the self concept as more traditional elements like God, marriage, family, friends, love, loyalty, work, duty, honor, country, and on and on.

It is not surprising that people engage Biased Processing when an element from their self concept like My Children gets activated. Nowadays, you can get the same outcome with My Diet or My Exercise. Of course, most people will resist this kind of analysis. Obviously, My Kids is more important to the self concept than My Diet. Unfortunately, the proof of this pudding is not how it looks, but what it does and you find that people engage that same process of High WATT search and scrutiny of Arguments with scissors whether over My Kids or My Diet. On a rational basis, offspring and exercise are two transparently different concepts, but when you observe how people think, you see once again, it’s the function you must follow, not the content.

Now, as a persuasion maven you see your opportunities. You can get the Other Guy into that Biased mode if you understand her diet and exercise, then use it against her to push your TACTs. Merely piggyback your TACT with her diet or exercise, and she’s likely to engage that gorgeous and effective Central Route processing, but while wearing blinders. You can sell a lot of bad exercise equipment that generates a ton of product loyalty because of the High WATT processing. Look at all those stupid cookbooks on the best seller lists. Look at Jamie Oliver. A celebrity chef; who ever heard of such a ridiculous title, yet there he is. Biased Processing got him there.

You also see your challenges. Americans are wasting billions of dollars of wealth and resource on diet and exercise to no grand effect and they are persisting because, in part, of the commitment from their Biased Processing. Science says diet and exercise don’t need this financial or behavioral investment, but Biased Processing plus a few artful dodgers like Oliver and the Lifestyle Drum and Bugle Corps have obscured that small detail. If you want people to use their time and money more effectively either as individuals or as voters, you’ve got to address the Bias manipulation that triggers this Central Route accident.

Peripheral Route plays with Cues cannot succeed in such circumstances. You are dealing with thoughts, feelings, and actions that arose from High WATT thinking and the Long (Biased) Conversation in the Head. You’ve got to persuade on the Central Route to overcome the strength and intensity of those thoughts, feelings, and actions and that means getting those High WATT Other Guys to go Objective where they follow the Arguments to Conclusions rather than allowing Conclusions to trim the Arguments to fit as with Biased Processing.

If history and human nature is any guide, such change is going to be a long, hard pull. People hate Objective High WATT processing like bad breath, taxes, and erections lasting longer than four hours. It could take nearly a generation before the status quo realizes the nominal benefits of diet and exercise.

So, from this commonplace pop press story, observe a great persuasion example of Biased Processing. From it draw lessons about human nature and the persuasion possibilities you may find.

All Bad Persuaders Are Bad Theorists!

Parents, children, and chores. See any persuasion possibilities in that vortex? Consider one.

Our detailed checklist-based system, with jobs paying from 50 cents to $3, was a failure. Every weekend I’d nag my four girls—ages 10 to 15—for a day or so to start. The girls would bicker throughout, as one tried to sweep before another had gotten around to dealing with rugs. Every time I’d turn around, another girl would have wandered off before finishing, distracted by a book or the iPad. Then they’d fail inspection.

Reinforcement Theory (For Me?), right out of the gate. The writer calls it a Checklist, but that label obscures the primary persuasion principle: When-Do-Get. The Checklist contains the chores (the Do) and the payouts (the Gets) and all the various contexts and times (the Whens). And, of course, the stupid theory fails. Dumb Checklists.

So, the writer finds a local expert, a Mom with a different Checklist: Reinforcement Theory featuring Punishment!

Instead she found a system based on respect and gentle disincentives . . . Then if she has to remind them more than once, the kids pay Tanya 25 cents.

Now instead of a Checklist with When-Do-Get Money, the writer operates with a When-Do-Get Whacked. Yeah, respect and gentle little fine. That’s the big difference.

But, she learns something else.

Tanya’s approach offered me a clue to what I was doing wrong. My frantic efforts to push the girls were undermining their initiative and letting them know the jobs were so important to me that if necessary I’d eventually finish them. I had to back off. Every time I took care of a job and paid my child for it anyway, I was ensuring that I’d have the opportunity to do that again. It wasn’t the system or the list that had failed. It was me.

Give the muggle a maven’s Gold Star! She progresses from a thoughtless acceptance of the Checklist as if it is the modern way rather than just another way of saying, For Me? Her thoughtlessness plays out in all those nonTheory moves – who nags a pigeon in a Skinner Box? Then she collapses in failure, but stuck with the vortex of parents, children, and chores, she struggles in the Skinner Box of Parenthood and through that painful When-Do-Get she discovers the true meaning of For Me?, then builds and runs an effective Skinner Box with a little Punishment.

And see her insight into the devious interaction of Attribution with Reinforcement. As we’ve noted, Consequences also affect Attributions which in turn affect beliefs and behaviors. If the Other Guys are doing It for the money and not for the self directed joy, you’ve just Reinforced the Other Guy out of self controlled human and into a money-grubbing monkey. And, if you as the persuasion Source constantly step into the When-Do-Gets, you inadvertently teach other Rules of Reinforcement like When I Procrastinate, Do See Mom Do It, and Get Out of Doing Chores.

Hey, kids, if you are a parent, learn the Theory correctly before you implement it. If you are running around like a trained monkey while aiming at training your little monkeys, then you’re doing the theory backwards. It’s about the Other Monkey, Stupid.

See how writer-Mom suffered in the Skinner Box of Life with Children. She thought she was the Queen of the Jungle, but then discovered she was just the mouse in a house of playful cats. Make the When-Do-Gets run themselves (gee, Punish the kid for failure along with Rewards for long term success, what a novel idea!).

You might recall an earlier PB post on training the little monkeys in your neck of the jungle. Notice the artful use of Punishers in that one, too.

Realize one huge human difference between (most) parents and their children – WATTage. Kids typically do not have as much as adults and certainly cannot sustain High WATTage for longer periods of time. Stated another way, kids are Low WATT machines. They are also, again compared to most adults, much more sensitive to immediate Rewards and, Eek!, Punishments.

Parents often fail at the Second Rule of Persuasion and It’s about the Other Guy, Stupid. Parents empathize with their children and believe that Reinforcement Theory and particularly Punishment is a terrible, inhuman persuasion play. You need to realize that you are dealing with self-centered little monkeys who run on the Peripheral Route much of the time, especially when it involves work, chores, duty, discipline, effort and on and on with all those Character Building moments of growing up.

In other words, the way you see the Other Guys may not be how the Other Guys see themselves. It’s not your perception that counts here, but Theirs. The writer-Mom in this story made that practical error, thinking that her projected empathy is the same thing as the Other Guys actual response. (And, of course, you bonehead, parents go wrong here, too, and justify brutality. That’s not a failure of persuasion theory, it’s a failure of persuasion practice and bad persuasion is always wrong.)

She also fell victim to the New New Thing and those Checklists. Lists are great practical tools, but the theory behind them is not Check Mark Theory, but Reinforcement Theory. You’ve got to understand the operation of Consequences (the Gets) in the combination of the When-Do. And, you’ve got to employ Punishing Consequences along with Rewarding Consequences. Pigeons and Monkeys and People learn much faster.

Remember the Rules!

It’s about the Other Guy, Stupid.

If You Can’t Succeed, Don’t Try.

You Can Get Farther with a Kind Word and a Gun Than with Either Alone.

Stealing a Watch as Persuasion Box and Play

Stealing a watch from someone’s wrist is easier than you think as long as you know persuasion. Once you learn the physical trick, you quickly understand the hard part. A series of cartoons in this WSJ article demonstrate the proper behavior. You make your thumb and index finger form a C shape over the mark’s wrist. Press on the watch face with the thumb, while sliding your finger over the tip of the strap. This will cause the strap to unbuckle, then the watch drop into your hand.

The larger problem is putting pressure on the mark’s wrist without getting noticed. And that requires persuasion. Consider this.

As with any magic trick, though, the mechanics are only a small part of the illusion; psychology is the secret sauce. First and foremost, you need an excuse to grab your mark’s wrist, because if you yank at his watch for no reason he’ll almost certainly notice. I usually steal a spectator’s watch under the guise of doing a coin trick.

Set up a Persuasion Box. Call it a Coin Trick. You’ve now activated a set of thoughts in the mark’s head that are consistent with magic and tricks.

Let’s imagine you’re that spectator and the watch is on your left wrist. I remove a coin and ask you to hold out both of your hands, palms up.

Reinforce the Box. Get the mark to act consistently with a Magic Trick. Now, a sequence of steps that form the Persuasion Play.

1. At this point I press down on the watch so that your touch receptors adapt to the sensation.
2. I may move your arms back and forth in short straight lines while saying something like, “If I shake hard enough, the coin will jump between your hands.”
3. If I know your name, I’ll say it aloud a few times.
4. To add another layer of smoke, I’ll usually ask some questions.

All these moves serve to kill WATTage that would normally and easily feel someone grab a wrist and diddle with the watch. The mark’s mind is filled with cognitions that are deliberately designed to distract, disrupt, and divert WATTage from the crucial TACT of Who’s Got The Watch Right Now.

Realize that the mark, the Other Guy, is actively processing the event and thinking a lot of thoughts. Most people, looking only at an fMRI would say that the Other Guy is thinking. The Other Guy, however, is thinking the wrong way at the wrong time which makes them Low WATT for the magician’s lift.

This example functions as both example and metaphor for persuasion. If you want to steal watches, this article shows you step-by-step, the Persuasion Box and Play. But, the demonstration is more interesting as a metaphor for how persuasion can be done effectively.

See the Box with labeling the situation as a Magic Trick. See the WATTage Play with all those behavioral and verbal tasks that take WATTage from the crucial element – the lift – and distribute WATTage to other diversions. While magic and persuasion are similar, never forget the Rule.

There’s a Difference between Persuasion, and Smoke and Mirrors; With Persuasion the Illusion Lingers.

In other words, after persuasion, you don’t give back the watch and you leave the scene before the Other Guy discovers the persuasion behind the magic.

Persuasion Engines for Dining

A persuasion engine is an iGizmo solution to Change the way Other Guys think, feel, or behave. A persuasion engine knows that you are there, figures out what you want or might want, then presents information to you that aims at influence. And, they learn and adapt. Restaurants are testing them now.

These PEs look pedestrian. You can flip through a menu, click on a dish, and somebody brings it to you. Some include a payment system for credit cards so you can get through the wait most people dislike most while dining. Some include games. But, realize that this is dumb technology that works within a well known script. These iGizmos just use technology to replace routine human behavior or offer an additional service (like those old time tableside juke boxes).

We get the persuasion engine application here.

The “upsell” is a big feature of the product, says Terry Bader, vice president of marketing and strategy for eTab International Inc., which makes one of the devices being tested by Applebee’s. “We can prompt consumers at the table with a message, ‘Hey, how about another round of drinks?’ ” says Mr. Bader. At Chevys, which is testing the Ziosk in 12 of its 60 U.S. locations, the device shows dessert photos around 20 minutes after the time a waiter comes to the table.

Now, we’ve got an iGizmo that is messing with the Other Guys. Human servers often miss the right moment to upsell Other Guys, but a PE never forgets and never misses. And, a PE can learn from experience. Set that Dessert Prompt at a default of 20 minutes, but then after time, factor in time of day, size of party, other items ordered, and time between taps on the iGizmo, and you can refine the knowledge of the PE to hit more specifically the particular Other Guys currently at the table. Human servers simply cannot keep this kind of specific information in their heads while doing all the other tasks.

Does this actually produce a Change you can Count?

Dessert orders are about 30% higher than before restaurants used the Ziosk, says Mike Bova, senior vice president of operations for ERJ Dining, a Chili’s franchise with 122 restaurants that have used the Ziosk since 2010.

I have no idea how large the sample is for this or the length of time or which restaurants used them and on and on with the litany of scientific nit-picking. And, you know that even if Ziosk has run randomized experiments with sale receipts as outcome measures, they ain’t gonna publish that in the New England Journal of Restaurant Medicine. Consider another line of Counts.

Tips are above average when people use T.G.I. Friday’s app to pay, says Mr. Hall. The app suggests an 18% tip. More than 90% of restaurant diners choose the predetermined tip on Viableware’s device, a pay-at-the-table device that looks like a traditional black bill holder, the company says.

Man, if that’s true, then you may have the perfect marriage of Man with Machine or server with iGizmo. Jeepers, if you are a server, learn how to move your Other Guys through the machine. The machine can manage all those detailed monitoring tasks – how many kids, who ordered what, what does a group like this tend to have trouble with – and you can use an iGizmo as a kind of hiding in plain sight sensor to assess the Other Guys. Of course, servers have to go High WATT to enjoy all the benefits a PE iGizmo delivers.

We are getting away from the goofball Web 2.0 with all that social connectivity fru-fru and into a world of much more interesting persuasion applications through networked devices. When iGizmos deliver products and services like a robot from the Jetsons, they become effective persuasion agents. Everyone sees what they do, but not how they function.

the Beatles Believe the Rules

At 35 seconds into the madcap press conference (YouTube) at JFK in 1964 a reporter asks the Beatles a question.

Question: Why do you think your music excites people so much?

Paul: We don’t know, really.

John: If we knew, we’d form another group and be managers.

There you have it, persuasion fans. The greatest pop band in the history of the world confirms what I’m telling you.

There Are No Laws of Persuasion (and If There Were Why Would Anyone Tell You?)

Maybe Malcolm Gladwell knows better in Tipping Points or maybe Sunstein and Thaler in Nudge or . . .

Counting the (Internalization) Change with the NFL

I stress the importance of Counting for Persuasion because Persuasion is about Change and Change is something you can see in the Other Guys, a variation between Before and After that you can Count if only with 1′s and 0′s meaning Changed or Not Changed. Usually you Count the Change with the TACT you’ve targeted in the Other Guys, that Target Action Context Time or Who does What Where and When. But sometimes you are so successful, you can see a Change you didn’t expect to Count. Consider this headline from the WSJ (click to enlarge).

The article then explains why a new style of playing, the Hurry-Up Offense, is destroying the television coverage of the game. The writer notes:

As you might imagine, these up-tempo drives can put a fair bit of pressure on the TV production crew. Fox Sports coordinating producer Richie Zyontz, whose network shows a fair number of Saints and Packers games, calls these bursts of speed “the most challenging aspect of a broadcast.”

Challenging? How?

Veteran broadcaster Marv Albert, who now calls NFL games for CBS, explained that the problem starts from the first play. If the team starts no-huddle on the first drive, the broadcast doesn’t even have time to show the team’s lineups. “And once you look down for an anecdote you’re dead,” Albert said. He added that when a team like New England is playing, he lives by a simple rule: “Don’t talk about anything other than the play at hand, or you are going to miss snaps.”

Worse still,

With plenty of time between plays, there was copious room for graphics and replays from various angles. If a broadcaster had a nugget of information or a nice anecdote to share about a player, there were lots of pauses to squeeze them into.

If you are old enough, you might remember watching NFL games because you wanted to see a game between two teams. Now, the NFL has taken the original Main Point – the game – and Changed it into a new Main Point – the TV coverage. People watch the NFL to watch the TV coverage as much as to watch the game between two teams. If you like the game, it doesn’t really matter whether the teams are playing old fashioned football where the offenses run the ball 90% of the time and throw passes as a surprise in what was called a Ball Control offense or whether they play Hurry-Up; you just want to see the competition between two teams. In persuasion theory terms the Attitude Object once was The Game, but now the Object is The Coverage.

If you are a persuasion maven, you have to love this. What the NFL has done is make fans love the Persuasion more than The Game. The Coverage is nothing but Persuasion because The Coverage has no impact on The Game. The Game is determined by the players and coaches and sometimes crazy luck. The Coverage is about cars and beer and new companies trying to break through with entertaining ads or fantasy football leagues or cheers or logos or songs . . . everything but The Game. Fans can probably name more TV football broadcasters than players on the Seattle Seahawks roster.

As I read this article it further strikes me as the earnest and sincere perspective of the writer rather than a Hollywood PR play from the NFL. This writer actually wants to see and hear more from Troy Aikman and NBSeeIt Replays than from a pulling guard nailing a D-lineman with a trap block. NFL persuasion is so successful with this writer that not only does the NFL get all manner of merchandise TACTs from him, but also has the guy begging for more persuasion from the NFL. We’ve past merely Changing the Other Guys to sell beer to a merger of the self with a brand.

If you’re a sharp reader, you see in this transition a move from mere persuasion to Kelman’s Influence Processes, most notably that third process of internalization where the Receiver wants to become what the Source is persuading. Let’s read from the master (click to enlarge).

That quote reveals the penetration of NFL persuasion into the values and identity of many fans. And realize that this internalization is not about The Game, but about The Coverage, the persuasion! Fans have accepted all the persuasion plays from both the League and their sponsors, affiliates, and advertisers and made it a part of their lifestyle, their perspective, their philosophy of everyday life.

We can give a perpetual Peitho award to the NFL owners for their persuasion skill, but see this practical persuasion as a standard of comparison. Retune your thinking now to Social Media, most particularly Facebook. By light years and eons, Other Guys spend more time with Facebook than with NFL TV Coverage and by that simple criterion of Exposure, many smart people see Facebook as an extraordinary platform for persuasion, yet in this simple WSJ article you realize that Facebook has nowhere near the same persuasion impact as NFL TV Coverage.

Facebook has Large Numbers, but Facebook cannot connect those Large Numbers to effective persuasion plays. The NFL, by contrast, takes fewer people (900 million versus 150 million by some estimates) but hits them with persuasion plays that produce Kelman Internalization processes. You see how far Facebook must go to achieve the kind of persuasion impact the NFL enjoys.

Now see the long term persuasion strategizing from the NFL. Since the Super Bowl in the 1960s, the NFL has increased the persuasion impact of its product from merely a vehicle to deliver ads into a lifestyle with built-in persuasion. That did not happen overnight and required serious planning, execution, and counting with a ruthless emphasis upon success and not just on the field. The NFL runs a continuous persuasion war with strategic, operational, and tactical planning.

Yeah. Twitter is the New New Thing.

Blowing Smoke on Tobacco with Political Persuasion

Guess what? There’s an election coming up. Gee, how can we run persuasion plays on Other Guys without looking like we’re running persuasion plays? How about we get two politicos to publish an article in a peer review science journal extolling the virtues of the current administration on a topic that scientific community finds congenial. Here’s Koh and Sebelius in JAMA making the case for all the Big Change from the Obama Administration on tobacco control.

A reinvigoration of national efforts has occurred. First, President Obama signed 4 new laws—the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (2009), the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009), the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (2010), and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010). Collectively, these laws grant federal agencies more authority and funding to regulate tobacco products, decrease youth access to tobacco products, and increase access to tobacco dependence treatments. In 2010, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled its first-ever national strategic plan for tobacco control, Ending the Tobacco Epidemic: A Tobacco Control Strategic Action Plan. The Strategic Plan, featuring 4 pillars that guide 21 action steps, has already led to an unprecedented array of actions across HHS and the federal government.

Sebelius and Koh? Don’t recognize the names? Sebelius is that well known tobacco-control researcher who also served as Governor of Kansas and now as Secretary of Health And Human Services. We last saw her in public demonstrating a new style of Risk Communication with Katie Couric on the flu epidemic. That new style was so effective that Sibelius stopped appearing in public talking about flu epidemics. Koh is her Deputy, a political appointee of the Obama Administration with a fabulous track record of getting government appointments to political health positions.

Pardon my snort, but the Obama Administration is very late to the tobacco control party and has done nothing more or less than any other administration and might very well have made things worse. Yet, they will pitch their persuasion to physicians under the cover of a peer review journal. Obama’s on your side, baby.

All these claims are smoke and mirrors, with no persuasion. They are empty assertions, you know, when somebody says something like This Won’t Hurt or It’s Not Expensive or You’ll Like It. The CDC Director used the same persuasion play when he got $54 million from Congress to run anti-smoking ads and asserted that 50,000 people will quit as a result. While 50,000 sounds like a big number it is merely rounding error on a population of 45 million smokers. It is statistically impossible to prove such minor variation, yet a CDC Director or the Secretary of HHS and her Deputy can make such assertions in public with a straight face.

Vote for Us. We Make Change for You.

And JAMA cooperates with this as if the article was research-based and went through peer review. Hey, JAMA, ever hear of the Equal Time principle of media fairness? Does this mean JAMA will print an article from those well known tobacco control researchers Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan?

All Bad Science Is Persuasive.

Koh HK, Sebelius KG. Ending the Tobacco Epidemic. JAMA. 2012;308(8):767-768.

doi:10.1001/jama.2012.9741.

P.S. Persuasion props to Secretary Sebelius who followed the Rule: If You Can’t Succeed, Don’t Try. She learned from her persuasion errors as a risk communicator. This JAMA Authority Cue is a much more effective persuasion play . . .

. . . although I suspect its effect is exactly like that CDC Anti-Smoking Media Campaign: Impossible to measure. If You Can’t Count It, You Can’t Change It. But! It depends on what you’re trying to Change. Some people can’t Count, so you’re not really breaking the Rule if you’re trying to Change them and not the thing you’re Counting.

P.P.S. Gotta report it. Sebelius also demonstrated her German jazz band persuasion touch recently when she appeared at a political event as the HHS Secretary and gave a highly partisan political speech. That violates the Hatch Act which forbids government workers from politicking on the job. Everyone in the Fed gets training on the Hatch Act, except apparently the HHS Secretary. The Hatch Act is pretty much Fingerpainting 101, yet Sebelius found it tricky. This is more embarassing than harmful.

P.P.P.S. We can credit the Obama Administration with at least one smoker who quit as a result of the Administration!

P.P.P.P.S This would be merely funny if smoking didn’t kill nearly 450,000 American every year. That’s 1 in 5 deaths due to smoking. All from a volitional behavior.

Out of the Closet Persuasion Play®

Persuasion plays almost always work best when hiding in plain sight looking like the proverbial Shakespearian third bush, just scenery or a minor character or a bit of stage dressing that appears to be only functional, like a balcony. As with fashion designers trying to break through with this play.

The scene shows a pretty young girl out living life on the streets of Manhattan, seeking attention with her style, her taste, her . . .

PIVOTING smartly, a hand on her hip, the better to show off her pipette jeans, Laura Ellner seemed the incarnation of street style. As she posed at Lincoln Center Plaza on Day 1 of New York Fashion Week last Thursday, a brace of cameras clicked and whirred, each competing to catch her performance.

Ahh, to be young and beautiful and graceful and . . . connected.

She was hoping to burnish her image (she poses routinely on On the Racks, her style blog) and to appear on a flurry of similar sites. She was also sharing the spotlight with her bag, a roomy multizippered affair that she readily identified as a Kelsi Dagger duffel from by Pour La Victoire, the leather goods company where she works.

See the Man Behind the Curtain called Girls In Their Summer Dresses? Fashion designers target girls who look kinda like models and aspire to fashion then give them bags, shoes, shawls, belts, scarves, dresses, whatever for a little street persuasion hiding on the bodies of those sweet young things. Here’s the play in detail.

Today many of them are Web icons, trotting out their finery for scores of fans. But what they are parading as street style — once fashion’s last stronghold of true indie spirit — has lately been breached, infiltrated by tides of marketers, branding consultants and public relations gurus, all intent on persuading those women to step out in their wares.

We’ve seen this play from the fashionistas. Remember those brand Ambassador’s? Working for nothing to spread the designer word, buying designer wares at training sessions, providing youthful vanity for the persuasion purposes of the designer; the girls are both persuasion hook and catch for the fashion industry.

Aren’t My Cues Beautiful? is the persuasion principle, of course. All that Comparison (If The Beautiful Girls Are Doing It, You Should, Too), Liking (If You Like The Beautiful Girl, Do What She Does), and interestingly enough Authority (When An Authority Does It, You Should, Too.) And see these Cues concealed in plain sight, beauty hiding in and on beauty. Beautiful girls with beautiful clothes and accessories.

P.S. Girls In Their Summer Dresses . . . by Irwin Shaw.

P.P.S. This is what people used to call a Tipping Point if you remember Gladwell’s fantasy persuasion (Hush Puppies!). You don’t hear that as much nowadays, do you? Because it wasn’t true, just beautiful, kinda like Girls In Their Summer Dresses.

Facebook Goggles

Having spent a fair amount of time at one of the top party schools in America, keeping my finger on the pulse of undergraduate thinking, feeling, and acting (It’s about the Other Guy, Stupid), and generally finding young adult life interesting, I dispute this NYTimes story about the death of the college bar, killed by social media. Here’s the money shot.

“Students don’t need bars to create a community the way they used to,” said Stephani Robson, a senior lecturer in the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell who specializes in restaurant psychology.

Great. They find somebody who’s an expert in restaurant psychology to assert the death of the college bar by Facebook. And the story details compelling examples to illustrate the senior lecturer and her expert point of view. I like this one.

“You could have this really amazing night, but if you didn’t get a picture, it’s like it didn’t happen,” said Ms. Parr, 22, a senior at Gettysburg, whose friends often order designer outfits from the Rent the Runway Web site because incessant documenting makes wearing anything more than twice taboo. “It’s crazy how much pictures consume our lives. Everyone knows how to pose and how to hold your arm and which way is most flattering, and everyone wants the picture taken with their phone.”

Yeah. It’s the pictures.

You remember Rent The Runway. They are the persuasion guys who seduce pretty women into unpaid “internships” that spread the good brand word with chalkboard graffiti then “suggest” to those pretty women buying the brand while attending Rent The Runway workshops. Call this Rent The Runway play, Cueing Up The Cue wherein Rent The Runway seduces both the undergraduate population with Pretty Women and also seduces the Pretty Women into buying their stuff as part of the unpaid “internship.”

Of course, none of this requires any good, old fashioned, face to face, oops, f2f persuasion. It’s all SM2.0, baby. That’s why all those High Street bars in Morgantown, once again the party champion of university campuses (and 9th ranked football team in the current polls), have shut down.

Gee whiz, I appreciate that the NYTimes needs to fill the digital space with . . . digital space fillers. But this is just Bad Persuasion without even being Sincere!

Think about it. If Facebook killed college bars, then its stock price wouldn’t be down nearly 50% from its IPO (that’s half, you knuckleheads). If this story had a ounce of truth in it, a jello shot in the navel of your favorite quivering undergrad tummy, then Facebook would be selling at $600 a share today.

P.S. Fun story, though. Liked the photos.

Notice you don’t see anyone – no one! – on a smartphone texting or Facebooking or twittering. Just young adult undergraduates doing that young undergraduate thing. Face to face. Skin to skin. Laughing in each other’s faces. Man, look at that eye contact. Yeah. SM2.0. Pull my finger. Now, pull my leg.

P.P.S. WVU doesn’t party today like it did in 1988 or 1992. Princeton would have needed a new counting scheme to keep up with the Gold and Blue back then. Girls of the Big East for Playboy. The Girls Gone Wild party bus. And that was for the Comm 80 Rock Breaks during regular classtime! Still makes me blush. And, no. No pictures. They’re all adults now and that was 20 years ago.