To the Point: Because I Said So
How are you feeling about that headline? What if I went on to say, “And I wrote a really good book about nonprofit marketing that you should definitely buy. It’s a work of staggering genius.”
More than likely, you’d be skeptical. You might wonder, “Who the heck is this showoff?” You might even turn the page of this magazine, muttering under your breath, “What a shameless self-promoter!”
Here’s my point: Telling everyone you’re great isn’t so great. That presents an interesting problem for fundraisers. Our job is to convince people that ours is a great cause, but the way to do that isn’t as simple as telling them that it’s a great cause.
One of my favorite social psychologists, Robert Cialdini of the “Influence” books fame, has put a lot of study into how to solve this conundrum. One scientifically proven solution is to get someone else — preferably a true believer, but even a paid representative will work — to do the promotion for you.
In the new book, “Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive,” Cialdini and his co-authors describe a research experiment in which participants were asked to imagine themselves as senior editors for a book publisher. They were told they were to review excerpts from a negotiation for a sizable book advance for a successful author. One group of people read excerpts written by the author’s agent. The other group read identical comments made by the author himself.
So what happened? If you guessed the former group gave the book higher ratings, you win. A third-party endorsement is incredibly valuable.
Cialdini shares another neat trick his colleagues applied to a real estate firm. The receptionist originally answered the phone and directed callers with phrases like, “Oh, you need to speak to Judy; she does rentals.” She was recommended to change this to, “Oh, rentals, you need to speak to Judy, who has over 15 years’ experience renting properties in this neighborhood.”