In Daniel Pink's new book, "To Sell is Human," he explains what he calls "Non-sales selling: persuading, convincing and influencing others to give up something they've got in exchange for what we've got." The role of today's executive has shifted from order-giver to "mover." Pink explains, "Moving other people to part with resources, whether something tangible like cash or intangible like effort or attention -- so that both get what they want."
I've spent a lifetime helping leaders present information in the most persuasive way. Whether we're developing a strategic messaging platform, orchestrating a four-channel content distribution approach or coaching executives one-on-one...the end-in-mind is almost always to get others to agree with your point-of-view.
After all, isn't that what leaders really do: get others to go along with them? Willingly and enthusiastically, whenever possible!
I'm honored to speak from 4:30 to 6 on Tuesday, February 25, to the Atrium group at the Downtown KC Central Exchange. I'll share a dozen proven strategies to enrich your power of persuasion.
Connecting on philosophical, strategic and tactical levels, these pearls range from How to Harness the Power of Three, the Macro / Micro technique, and my favorite suggestion to demonstrate team alignment when making team presentations -- "Steal the Punchline."
Here is a sneak peak at a couple of persuasive strategies you can begin using today.
Leveraging the Macro / Micro Approach
Macro / Micro is the most persuasive way (from the recipient's point-of-view, always!) to get someone to agree with you. Use this construct to frame your argument at the (macro) 30,000-foot level, then immediately provide one (micro) three-foot level example to ground your suggestion. Restate the macro, followed with, don't you agree?
So, here's how Macro / Micro plays out in the real world. Let's say you and a few other parents are responsible for finding the end-of-season place to celebrate your kid's soccer team season, and thank the coaches. You want to go to Red Robin. You would say something like, "I suggest we go to a place that doesn't mind if we have a bunch of crazy teenagers, with both alcoholic and fun non-alcoholic drinks for the kids, and that's nearby our final game. How about Red Robin...it has all three. Sound good?"
Some people need the philosophical framing. Some need the specifics. Kind of like the Myers-Briggs test: some are sensors; some are intuition-based. Do both. To get our way, we need to connect with everyone.
Just like sports, improving your persuasive skills requires both practice and patience. But when your plan and your delivery come together, you're going to get your way more often!
Do a Run-Through Before All Major Presentations
Another tip is one that we all already know, but often skip: perform a complete run-through in front of somebody who intimidates you before giving your actual presentation. I find most executives do what I call a "walk-through." They say, I'll start with the story about the three buckets, then I'll do an intro, ask for questions, and then review each slide." Nope. It's imperative that your confidence and enthusiasm be sky-high. Present a full run-through as a practice, complete with the constructive critique from a person whose opinion you greatly respect. This will help you polish your delivery and verify if you have any communication / connection glitches. And importantly, you'll have a feeling of confidence that will exude through your remarks. We all benefit from actually articulating all of the words -- at least one time -- before "showtime."
I have yet to see an executive do a worse job after a full run-through, but I've sure seen my share of stumbles and gaffes for those who just "wing it."
I've been told -- more than once -- that many of these suggestions are just "applied common sense." While that may be true, they work just the same.
Wanna get your way more often? Apply these techniques and the line forms right behind you!
Onward and upward!Tagged Central Exchange, Eric Morgenstern, Morningstar Communications, persuasive speaking
We've always known that three is a magical number, particularly as a construct to help persuade people. Now we have scientific "proof" to confirm The Power of Three.
A recent study published in The Social Science Research Network, "When Three Charms, But Four Alarms: Identifying the Optimal Number of Claims in Persuasion Settings," relayed by The New York Times, confirms the well-accepted truism that when you add a fourth "sales" point, it weakens the credibility of the first three.
This tells us we should emphasize three accolades or positive points. If we use four, our "BS-O-METER" starts to go off, which is absolutely no surprise to all of us who help shape persuasive messaging. It confirms what we've all known all along: three is a magic number.
For example, if you're making a persuasive presentation, provide exactly three reasons why. "I think we should go to the ABC restaurant to celebrate our kid's soccer season and thank the coaches, because it's close, inexpensive and fun." If you added another positive attribute, such as the new "healthy meal options," the persuasive power of the first three reasons diminishes.
My friend Steve Liggett named his company Trilogy Communications back in the '90s. He celebrates March 3 each year (3/3) as Trilogy Day. Smart. And ahead of the curve.
Use "three" as a default
When making persuasive arguments, use three things as your base construct. When asked a question, simply frame your "spontaneous" answer with a "past / present / future" answer - the power of three. "Thanks for asking, in the past, we used to ABC. Today, we DEF and as we look to the future, we're focused on GHI." This works in virtually all "sales" situations.
More than 100 years ago Sears was credited with creating the modern array of "good / better / best" for all product offerings: three price points for each product. This concept has permeated all levels of business and commerce. It's usually Gold / Silver / Bronze...when there's a "platinum" level, it's out of the norm, and always makes us question the value of the first three levels.
This is a time-tested construct. Product positioning and nomenclatures include such standards as, "snap, crackle and pop," and a zillion derivations. My mom always said, "when you get to three things, that's a list...write it down."
We see three in pop culture all the time. There were three stooges, three supremes and three base models of the Honda Accord. Religion takes it one step further by focusing us on "the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt," as well as a cornerstone Judaic quote from Rabbi Shmon be Gamliel, "The world is sustained by three things: By justice, by truth and by peace." I'm sure we could all add a few items to that list, but once again, these sages settled on three – for a very good reason.
Three works. Always has; always will. It's simply how we're wired.
And now, we have science to support our gut.
So, go forth and use the power of three.Tagged Business Development, Eric Morgenstern, Morningstar Communications, persuasive speaking
Yes, I’m a “word nerd.” Everywhere I go, I look at the words. Specific words. Oh, and the strategies behind the words. I can’t help myself.
I run with a crowd who often share this affliction.
People like me edit menus…assess signage….and look into descriptions to see the inner messaging. While this condition has its challenges, I vastly prefer this to having been a carpet expert, where everywhere I went I would look straight down and say something like, “Wow….take a look at that 22-pound, double-tuft weave, poly/wool blend!”
I owe a lot of this imprinting to John Bremner, one of my very favorite professors at The University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Today, the “Bremner Editing Center” serves as an ever present reminder of his passion for helping others develop their own writing and editing skills.
From John Bremner’s book, HTK (Head To Come — instructions to the copy editor to summarize the story headline in just a few words), I gained immense appreciation for the utmost importance of individual word selection to convey specific information and tone.
However, we all know that all good things can be taken to an extreme. I had a boss once who used to edit my drafts and would tell me “here’s a ‘happy’ to ‘glad’ change.” They were never material changes. He felt it was important to put his fingerprints on it.
C’mon, now. If “happy” works, let it be. Change for change sake is unproductive. But additional word specificity is golden.
Knowing what words to change — and what to leave alone — is often the key question.
Determining whether or not a person was “involved” in the incident or “aware” of the incident drastically changes the entire meaning.
Word specificity comes into play when we define that ubiquitous word, “brand.” We focus on the strategy and the words. Sure, “look and feel” matter a lot, but its not the closer. Early in my career for nearly five years I served as Manager of Public Information at Hallmark Cards (still a client, still an amazing company filled with terrific, bright people). I learned (from a gazillion dollars of consumer research) that all of us pick up a card because of how it looks, and either buy it or put it back because of what it says.
It’s all about the exact, specific words. Precise and purposeful. Exactly the right word.
specific precise particular intentional with your word choice. Every. Single. Time.
Mark Twain once said, “If I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter.” In today’s world, I’m sure he would have included blog posts, emails and reports.
All writing is not created equal. Focus on just the right words, and you’ll move people to the change in behavior or attitude that you seek.
Onward and upward.Tagged Eric Morgenstern, John Bremner, Morningstar Communications
“Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point-of-view.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
This statement has become a cornerstone of our approach to strategic integrated communications. Philosophers, theologians, and deep thinkers often believe there are absolute truths. I’m not so certain.
Over the years I’ve learned that the ”truth” often depends on your point-of-view. This is why Morningstar Communications is so insistent on creating customized recipient-oriented communications for our clients.
It comes down to one very simple fact: It’s not what you want to say. It’s what they need to hear. Always.
In most things in life, the idea that one-size fits all is rarely true. We all know this intuitively. One area this is painstakingly true is communications. If you’re talking about the ABC thing, how an employee, a customer, or an investor sees that same thing will color their unique point-of-view.
As you can see, what’s viewed as good news to some may be viewed as bad news by others. So, that ABC thing always remains the very same thing… or does it?
The key to crafting solid communications is really this simple: identify the best way for the recipient to receive the information, not the best way to send it.
It’s football season and my KC Chiefs are off to an amazing start. So, it’s time for a gridiron analogy: Are your communication passes complete or incomplete?
The best way to assess the effectiveness of your communications: did the recipient catch the message. Your message was received or it wasn’t – incomplete or complete, the prettiness of the pass really doesn’t matter. Customize your communications based on the receiver / recipients EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Whether you believe in the force or not, Obi-Wan is spot on regarding recipient-oriented communications. Embrace this concept or accept that a lot of your passes will fall incomplete.
Onward and upward. Oh, and may the force be with you.Tagged best practices, Eric Morgenstern, Morningstar Communications, recipient-oriented messages
This summer, many of us found inspiration in the actions of our fearless leader, Eric Morgenstern, when he was awarded the overall winner of the Kansas City Chamber’s Not So Big KC Challenge. Eric recorded the most significant overall improvement out of almost 30 participants in the challenge, and in return, he prompted a new awareness and inspired a challenge for his employees: Let’s do this together!
This week, the Morningstar team officially accepted the challenge with 100 percent participation! Together, we’re moving forward with our Lucky 7 Challenge, a wellness campaign that encourages participants to establish an exercise habit and incorporate variety into fitness routines. Throughout the next seven months, our team will rise to the goal of reaching an average of 70,000 steps per week using our very own Fitbits, courtesy of Morningstar Communications. We owe a huge thanks to Eric for the original motivation, and our client Hallmark Business Connections’ wellness engagement team for its help guiding our wellness program with a strategic game plan, a solid engagement strategy and motivational incentives to increase our likelihood of success.
We’ve only just begun, and the team is already finding new ways to take additional steps. You might see a few of us doing a lap around the building or opting to use the restroom that exists up two flights of stairs. If you have other insightful ways to get your steps in, we’d love to hear about them on our Facebook page! Let us know how you get to steppin’ each day.
Overall, this challenge is a guaranteed win for everyone as all team members walk away with an established habit of regular exercise and plenty of social support to continue a healthier lifestyle well beyond the challenge. Keep an eye on our progress on Facebook.Tagged Eric Morgenstern, Fitbit, Lucky 7 Challenge, Morningstar Communications, Not So "Big KC" Challenge, Susan Hinds, wellness program
Every business leader yearns to have everyone on their team row in the same direction. Alignment is a holy grail for executives.
The answer, quite simply, is The Three Clarities.
I had the privilege of providing strategic communications for Marion Laboratories throughout the 1980s and early ’90s. Its success and subsequent sale ultimately led to Mr. K and his family buying the KC Royals, establishing the Kauffman Foundation, and building the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. They also spun off dozens of successful businesses, and planted seeds (the Uncommon company was their credo) with hundreds more. It was a great ride, and I learned a lot.
They experienced tremendous growth. They were a Wall Street darling. And they never stopped growing right through their acquisition by Merrill Dow in 1989.
Fred Lyons, its CEO, was often asked how he kept such a dynamic and growing organization aligned. Ensuring everyone is working together is a continual challenge for all leaders. Fred often referenced the “Three Clarities” as his key. I’ve always kept them in mind, and am happy to share his simple and brilliant approach with you now.
The three key clarities are the answers to these profound questions:
• Where are we going?
• What is my responsibility, specifically?
• How is score kept?
Yes, it’s really that simple. For example, lets say your team is taking a road trip. Here’s how it would work: We’re going to Minneapolis (direction). You are in charge of lunches on the road (responsibility). If we arrive with full stomachs, that’s success (score). This approach applies to all people, in all organizations.
As we all know where we are going, what’s our specific role and how will my success be judged — with those three key questions answered — I’ve seen teams accomplish amazing things.
If you’re the leader, be sure your team knows all three. If you’re working for someone, ask. With those three clarities fully understood, alignment and manageable growth are sure to follow.
Onward and upward.Tagged company success, Eric Morgenstern, Fred Lyons, Leadership, Marion Laboratories, Morningstar Communications, team alignment, Three Clarities
Mass market beer consumers have proven they don’t have the most discriminating taste. But I think they’re smarter than this.
The current campaigns from Miller and Coors tout – wait for it – another hole in the can. Really? The product pours better. Period. Unless you’re in a beer chugging contest, is this really a better beer experience?
Miller says, “everything flows more smoothly…” with a punch top can that features two, not one, air holes.
Coors touts “the world’s most refreshing can” with two holes.
We all know that we buy more than just the pure product: It’s all about the entire “User Experience.” Customers must feel an emotional draw for products and services to create brand preference. This is true for consumer products, and for B-to-B marketers. There are legions of consultants and experts all focused on improving the user experience.
Take a quick look at how Wikipedia defines User Experience: User experience (UX) involves a person’s emotions about using a particular product, system or service. User experience highlights the experiential, affective, meaningful and valuable aspects of human-computer interaction and product ownership. Additionally, it includes a person’s perceptions of the practical aspects such as utility, ease of use and efficiency of the system. User experience is subjective in nature because it is about individual perception and thought with respect to the system. User experience is dynamic as it is constantly modified over time due to changing circumstances and new innovations.
But adding another hole in the beer can? (BTW, it’s not that hard for anyone to make another hole. It is, after all, an aluminum can!)
So are beer buyers enticed by the new packaging? And is that (obviously!) the only thing these marketers have left to discuss?
This all seems pretty silly to me. It reminds me of the kid who rips off the gift wrap and then tosses the toy aside so he can play with the empty box.
These beer makers are talking about their new packages while saying absolutely nothing about their product. Literally, this is the old joke about putting “old wine in a new bottle.” Except that now “the bottle” has an extra hole.
Another hole. That’s it.
We all need to know what we’re really selling, and know how to package and sell your products and services in a truly meaningful manner. Or all you’ll be left with is a hole in your approach.
Onward and upward.Tagged Eric Morgenstern, Morningstar Communications, user experience
Really, aren’t you just talking about a bottle of water?
Euphemisms are ALWAYS a bad way of communicating.
We all know the acronym KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!). Unnecessary complications should be avoided. This construct dates back to the US Navy in 1960. And now, more than 50 years later, this cornerstone principle is even more true in the context of today’s communications overload.
How many times do we make things more complicated because we got “that memo” a long time ago that said selling “Personal, Portable, Hydrating Solutions” sounds fancier, and lets us charge more and sound smarter than selling just a bottle of water.
Always remember that the purpose of communications is to have the message received, not just sent. Otherwise, you’re just talking.
Think about American football for a moment. When the quarterback floats a beautiful, 60-yard, spiral pass that is just out of reach of the receiver…yup, that goes down as an incomplete pass. However, on the next play, the quarterback scrambles, and just before he is tackled for a loss, he flips a really ugly-looking toss to the fullback, who catches it in a crowd, and falls forward for a one-yard gain. Yup, that’s in the record books as a completed pass.
If they don’t “receive” your message, you’re just talking…not communicating.
People are incredibly lazy readers
People don’t read much anymore. They scan. They glimpse. And they expect you to clearly communicate, or they will simply stop paying attention.
Since 1982, USA Today has taught us that all we need to know is the one paragraph story summary box on the cover of each section. And, if that’s too much reading, just go for the bold phrase that starts each article.
If you don’t adhere to each of the six steps we recommend in The Pathway to Great Messaging, then I’m pretty sure your beautiful passes will go uncaught.
Let’s take simple to a higher level: brevity.
Mark Twain once apologized and said, “If I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter.” He got it. Be brief, and you’ll communicate more effectively.
For all of you who text, here’s another one of my favorites examples:
Have you ever sent a one-letter text as a reply, “K”?
In texting, that stands for “OK.” OK is actually an abbreviation for a word in the dictionary, “okay.” Can you eliminate 75 percent of the content from your communications and not lose anything in the meaning?
Can you make your communications even more simple…more concise? Less is truly more, when it comes to effective communications.
And please stop selling Personal, Portable, Hydrating Solutions.
Onward and upward.Tagged Communication, Eric Morgenstern, KISS, Morningstar Communications, Pathway to Great Messaging
We spend more of our waking hours at the office than we do at home. That’s why we focus so much on creating great space for our team and our clients.
We recently moved into our new office, 12701 Metcalf. After just a few weeks, we’re settling in nicely. Last week, one of our clients told me, “…your love of nature and natural light really shows…it’s as if you put your office in a treehouse.”
Works for me.
We’ll share additional pictures later, but we wanted to give you a quick glimpse of the view from my desk.
We only moved physically four blocks south, but we’ve “moved” miles in terms of improving our work environment. We gave away all of the cubicles, and invested in much more collaborative benching office furnishings for our team. There is much more natural light. We invested heavily in technology and communications infrastructure, including wireless connectivity for all mobile devices to project on our large TV in the board room. No more separate projectors. And screaming fast wired connections, in addition to wireless everywhere. We’re continuing to eliminate as much paper as possible; we only moved one filing cabinet! Scan and save. That’s our motto.
We’re adjacent to Deer Creek, and enjoy all the trees, birds and critters you could ever want.
I often smile, and say, “Work is a four-letter word.” But when you’re working in a treehouse, it makes the days fly by, with a smile on your face.
Onward and upward.Tagged Deer Creek, Eric Morgenstern, Kansas City, Metcalf, Morningstar Communications, new office, Overland Park
Channeling the wisdom of others, I’ve incorporated the following seven quotes into my everyday worldview. I hope you enjoy each one, and that they inspire you as well.
To frame this blogpost, I honor my Mom who used to say to me, “Learn something new everyday.” To which I would irreverently reply, “…so that I’m really smart when I die?” Mom would simply smile, and say, “yes.”
Here we go:
I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” – Michael J. Fox
I am fixated on excellence. Think Excellence, Not Difference continues to serve as my foundation philosophy for building an enterprise. We all want excellence, in all aspects of our lives. That’s what we should expect, of most people and most actions, most of the time. Leave your standards of perfection to the almighty, but always reach for excellence.
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Phil Condit
If you and I always agree, one of us isn’t needed. Together, we’ll accomplish much more than any of us on our own. Life is a team sport; get on board.
Do, or do not…there is no try.” – Yoda
I do not believe in giving every child a “participation” trophy. There are winners, and there are losers. Winners need to learn humility; losers need to learn to work harder to become winners. In the real world, effort alone isn’t enough. Never confuse activity for productivity. Get it done.
“You can’t build your reputation on what you’re going to do.” – Henry Ford
I wish all of our elected leaders truly embraced this fundamental concept. We all build our personal brands through our rearview mirror…it’s a reflection of what you’ve already accomplished, not a promise of the future. Do it now. We frequently say, “do good, and get caught.”
“People have been misnamed. We’re called ‘human beings.’ But aren’t we almost always ‘human doings?’” We need more time just to ‘be.’” – Rabbi Mark Levin
This is so true. How much time in your day is spent simply “being” and absorbing everything around you? If we turn down life’s noise, we can hear and see so much. Try to be a “being” for 15 minutes everyday. Find a place, and go there. To be or not to be…yup, ol’ Bill Shakespeare had it right.
“If you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
I’m always amazed at the downhill skiers at the Olympics. They train for most of their lives for a one-minute run on the brink of disaster. Watch them before they start…you can see in their faces how they are visualizing their run. Each turn. Every dip. We are all our own worst enemy…or best friend. The only thing we can ever truly control is our attitude. Make it a good one, with a positive inclination. Nobody wants to be around Negative Nancy or Downer David. Envision success, and you’ll achieve it.
“Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point-of-view.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
The person I call a terrorist, others call a freedom fighter. Was Darth Vadar a good or bad guy? Is Obama a good president? Is the economy “good” right now? Was that meal worth the cost? All of our “truths” are rooted in our point-of-view. As a communications professional, I’ve learned one of the most important aspects of effective communication is focusing on the recipient, not the sender. Essentially, it’s not what I WANT you to know; it’s what you NEED to hear. Everyone owns their own point-of-view.
What are your favorite quotes, and why? What inspires your worldview?
Here’s to “ever better” as we all move through the journey we call life. Onward and upward.Tagged Eric Morgenstern, Executive Insights