Why Facts Alone Won’t Always Persuade

“Facts tell, but stories sell” — Jim Doyle

It’s interesting to watch the political left and right — especially those at the extremes — shout past each other. Each has its own set of facts, and each is firmly convinced that if the other side just accepted these facts the argument would be over.

And each believes that the other side’s “facts” are lies.

Seth Godin tackles “The Limits of Evidence-Based Marketing”, using as an example an acquaintance who is firmly convinced that the vaccine for polio is harmful. Stacks of information and studies from the Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization — “evidence-based marketing” — would not change the acquaintance’s mind.

…evidence isn’t the only marketing tactic that is effective. In fact, it’s often not the best tactic. What would change his mind, what would change the mind of many people resistant to evidence is a series of eager testimonials from other tribe members who have changed their minds. When people who are respected in a social or professional circle clearly and loudly proclaim that they’ve changed their minds, a ripple effect starts. First, peer pressure tries to repress these flip-flopping outliers. But if they persist in their new mindset, over time others may come along. Soon, the majority flips. It’s not easy or fast, but it happens.

Which is why testimonial advertising is so powerful, and why I push the television salespeople I coach to replace the charts and graphs with stories of clients who’ve used the station and won.


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One thought on “Why Facts Alone Won’t Always Persuade

  1. excellent point. i think state farm recently ran a campaign like this nationally i thought it was pretty good creative. ask a neighbor. now they are running this we are the largest so that must make us the best. sorry being the largest anything these days in corporate america is more a liability than a selling point.

    Thanks for reminding us of the importance of testimonials!