The 4 Cornerstones To Winning Public Confidence

Yes I know the title sounds very manipulative. Trust me it’s not. What I am laying out below is the result of a review of various studies about consumer behaviour, election data and my own meandering experience. Here they are, judge them how you want:

  1. Have Positive Messages: If you look at the Brexit and the US elections, it clear that the losing side in both scenarios were negative in their messaging. That is to say that they emphasised the negatives of NOT choosing their option. At the same time, the winning side focused on — how much better things will be under their view. People in general hate thinking or talking about the negative (whether that is good or not is another debate) an it is much easier to gain ‘believers’ if you give a hopeful vision (Obama 2007: Hope & Change, Trump 2016: Make America Great Again)
  2. Look Ahead in Messaging: You have to talk about the future. People know their present and their past. If you base an argument in how good/bad the past or present is/was, your audience has a very real and objective yardstick to think about. If you’re promising the ideal, then it’s better if your audience has nothing against which to benchmark whether that is a) achievable or, b) desirable. TL;DR: telling people it will be better tomorrow is good because everything is up for grabs in the future.
  3. Push Your Position: the losing side in every debate (no, this is not backed by stats) focuses on how good their position is by relating to the opposing view. For example, voting Clinton is better because Trump is cray cray. That invites the question of why? which, in a system that clearly is riddled with a lack of trust, is not a good position. It is much better to say, “Vote Clinton/Remain because of X,Y&Z things” and ignore the other side. Think about it, if someone says, ‘don’t believe ABC source’ our (likely) knee-jerk response (if you hold the opposing view)is to question and bolster the credibility of the opposing view. TL;DR: (though for other reasons) you don’t see Coca-Cola slag off Pepsi to win consumers, don’t try and convince people by putting down what they already believe.
  4. Emotion > Numbers: everybody (except awesome people like me) hates numbers. They require critical thought and ‘ain’t nobody got time for that!’. Emotions require no thought. They are automatic, they come from ‘inside’ and they often hold more sway than anything else. Accuracy is important of course, have good numbers in your back pocket, but do not lead with it.Outside of law and investment banking (maybe) it’s a fools errand. TL;DR: Tell people who much better/worse their lives will be under your position rather than convey the same information in numbers and have them infer the impact (authors note: this kills me)

Disclaimer: The author is an avowed ‘numbers guy’ and dies a little each time someone manipulates data to support a wholly unrealistic (in his opinion) position. Also, if it needs clarification, the author supported Remain and would have voted Clinton is able.