Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of diving deeper into the science of communications with Ira Flatow, host of radio show Science Today, and Sendhil Mullainathan, Professor of Economics at Harvard, who specializes in behavioral economics.
These rare birds—science specialists fluent in bringing scientists and the public together in dialogue—quickly jumped into a compelling discussion on how the mind interacts with messages and data to understand the world around us, and decide how to act.
Ira began with an attention-getting story with a core message that framed the session: Every member of your audiences brings biases to your messages.
And he did it in the most memorable way possible, by sharing a story.
He remembered a program that covered the latest research findings on the lack of connection between autism and vaccinations. When he opened up the show to callers, his first caller was a woman who started out with “I want to tell you that I don’t believe in this research.”
After she went on for ten minutes in this vein, the producers asked Flatow to cut her off. “Is there any amount of information that we could present to you on this program to make you change your mind?” he asked.
“No,” she said!
This listener had a strong bias against the information being shared and, as she confirmed, nothing was going to change her mind on that.
The value to you? By learning as much as you can about your audiences’ biases, you’ll be able to better target your audiences (top three only, folks who won’t deviate from their belief in the autism-vaccination connection won’t make the cut) to those who can help move your mission forward and who are most likely to.
Once you have the right people targeted, knowing their biases help you frame the right messages—those that give them something they want, and show them a way around what’s standing in their way of giving, volunteering or registering. Never forget that you are not your audiences!
More in coming posts on this fabulous session! And thanks to the Communications Network for hosting this enlightening and energizing gathering.
Yes or no—Do you strive to get your audiences’ biases, and frame your messages from there? Please share your answer, methods and end results here.
P.S. Get peer guidance on strengthening your organization’s messages with our no-charge Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom Guide,