Tap into emotions to convey your point. We’re wired to feel things for people, not abstractions
A story which affects us emotionally will always automatically be memorable. Something which evokes emotions and makes us feel something will make us care. So for an idea to stick with people, either focus on something which people already care about, or create an association between your idea and something they care about. One thing to keep in mind when sharing our ideas is to be aware of the fact that it’s not about selling the benefit or the attribute, but about climbing up the emotional ladder to higher-orders of self interest. This is achieved by appealing not just to what they want, but who they want to be.
The emotional component of sticky ideas is all about pushing people’s emotional buttons just like a movie tearjerker. Rather than the goal of making a message “emotional”, the actual goal is to make people care.
To illustrate the effect of emotion versus reason, a group studied the effect of soliciting funds for starving children in Africa with two appeals: An appeal based on statistics, and another one focusing on a single named child. Of course, the latter won. The surprising part of the study however, was that any time reason was evoked, the amount of giving decreased. For example if they used the story of an individual child accompanied with statistics, the donations decreased. What this study clearly outlines is the fact that, once we put on our analytical hats we react to emotional appeals differently; they hinder our ability to feel.
To make people care about ideas we get them to take off their Analytical Hats: We create empathy for specific individuals; or we show how our ideas are associated with things that people already care about, by appealing to their self-interest we are also appealing to their identity.
The best way to make people care is to form an association between something they don’t care about and something they do care about. The tactic of association is something which we practice naturally, the trick however is to create new associations that get past the old.
Another way to make people care about ideas is to appeal to their self-interest. A common error is to emphasise features over benefits, for example, telling people you have the “best seed”, instead of telling them that it will give them the “best lawn” – which is what they truly care about.
Again, not all ideas are suited to having this emotional aspect to them, however there’s no doubt that when it comes to any charity related work and trying to get people to care, creating associations like these will play on the heart strings of others a lot more than a very factual/statistical approach. Once people care about what you’re trying to sell, there’s no doubt that they won’t buy it.