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How they persuade YOU to donate! Date Posted: 1/7/2005

The Tsunami was a huge event.  How huge?  Well, by many estimates it has a current death toll of the World Trade Center times 40.  That's right ... the dealth toll from the Tsunami is not at the level of 40 9/11's.  It has taken several days for the collective World to wake up and realize the total devastation and the chances for even more problems with starvation and disease of those that remain injured and homeless.

So, everyone is asking you to donate.  But how do they get you to part with your cash?  They are using a number of basic persuasion tactics - all at once and that has power.

First, there is the emotional face of the tradegy.  It's one thing to say that over 130,000 people have died.  That's a statistic.  It's quite another to show the face of a young boy who is holding up a sign he made himself saying he lost his Dad and two sisters.  It shows he is alone and scared.  This emotional face of the tradegy gets people to want to help.  Why?

There is a basic law at work here ... people will do more to avoid pain than they will to gain pleasure.  And because we have compassion, we want to help others to avoid pain and gain pleasure as well.  When we see another in pain, we feel the desire to help (we don't always act on that desire, but we instinctively feel the desire).

So, once we see the emotional face and feel the desire to help, what actually gets us to take action?  Scarcity.

Scarcity is a very strong motivator to action.  We find out that relief supplies must get to the people in need FAST.  Otherwise they will die.  These deaths we see a preventable (meaning we have the power to avoid more pain by contributing). 

Then, there is the Authority principle at work.  We see our President making public pleas for private donations as well.  In addition, we now see two past Presidents making public pleas for donations.  This is a powerful tactic because we have been trained since childhood to obey authority figures.

There will be telethons and other ways to allow you to publically commit that you will contribute to this relief effort.  This is another principle of persuaion ... it's called commitment and consistency.  Once you make a voluntary and public statement ... you will feel the inner desire to remain consistent with that commitment and you will follow through and mail in that check (in most cases).

This is a very quick look at just three of the principles of persuasion (and there are over 200) that are being used right now to persuade people to donate to the relief effort.

Watch carefully in the days and weeks ahead to the way the story is shaped for you ... what you are shown (and not shown) and how they ask you to donate.

Have a great week.

Jim Speakman

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