The Oldest Form Of Manipulation In History… And It Still Works

Source: Stencil

In sales, marketing or persuasion we often get carried away with facts and details. One is never enough. Two is never enough. Can too much spoil your message?

I ran into this problem last night.

My wife prepared lamb burgers for dinner. She got these “pita like” pockets called salad pockets. This surprised me. We try to eat healthy unprocessed food. I questioned her about it.

“Salad pockets?” I asked

“Yeah. I was shocked. There are only a few ingredients. It seemed a better choice than pita bread.”

I studied the packaging for a moment. I noticed something unfamiliar.

“Fumaric acid. What on earth is that?”

“Let me see. No idea.” She said

Before my comment about fumaric acid, my wife thought she made the healthy choice. The package claimed minimal processing. It had only five ingredients. That was enough information to create a story. She believed these salad pockets were the healthier choice.

It Doesn’t Take Much To Create A Story

When I looked at the packaging I added one more element to the story. I mentioned the fumaric acid. That extra piece of information changed the story.

One extra piece of information changed our opinion from sort of healthy to unhealthy.

Her omission of fumaric acid was unintentional. Professional manipulators use selective omission on purpose.

They use it to frame their narrative so you come to the desired conclusion.

Your audience creates stories from limited information. It took only two pieces of data to trigger a narrative about the health aspect of salad pockets.

We Can’t Help Ourselves

We all do this. It takes conscious effort to step back and avoid drawing conclusions until you obtain more information.

With only a few pieces of information, you create a nice, neat story with no holes. The data play nice with each other.

The more information you add, the more the story changes.

Look at successful marketing messages. They’re simple stories with one or two pieces of information. They’re not complex whitepapers. It’s the only way they control the story you construct in your mind.

Compare these two examples. This is a fictional company but notice the conclusion you draw in each story.

First story: Jim Smith took over a software company near bankruptcy

He sold off non-performing divisions
He went all in on partnering with Google before they became a household name
The company is now worth billions

What story did you construct in your mind about Jim Smith?

Revised story: Jim Smith took over a software company near bankruptcy

Debt holders went to court and forced him to sell non-performing assets
He tried to sell the B to B software to division but couldn’t find a buyer
He opted to partner with Google to help cut expenses
He tried to sell his company’s interest in the partnership for $50 million. No takers
He tried to sell his company’s interest in the partnership for $25 million. No takers
The partnership started making money so he took it off the market with plans to sell it for $100 million
When it became clear this would be the cash cow for the company, he ended all plans to sell it
The company is now worth billions.

Now, what’s your opinion of him? How did your story change?

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