Techniques of Influence V· January 16, 2017
Shame, Shame, Shame
Don’t be on the wrong side of the equation. That’s what the shame tactic is all about.
Shame is a tricky technique of influence. One must always be careful of the fine line between the moral high ground and the—much more dangerous—high horse. PETA does a fairly terrible job of using shame as an influential technique, for example. Between the exploitation of women and their use of horrific imagery, sometimes I wonder if PETA’s goal is simply to make vegans feel vindicated, rather than converting people.
The best way to use shame is very gently, by providing a better alternative to a product of now-ill repute.
Take, for example, Boxed Water. Plastic water bottles are so shameful now that we have created cartons for water.
Water, I should remind everyone, that comes from every tap in your house, in your office, in your house, or any business. Any tap, really.
Boxed Water also has the benefit of being slightly obscure and highly Instagrammable. They’re doing incredibly well, those Boxed Water people.
Advertising copy in the Shame Game should never refer directly to the offending other product.
You’re going to need words like, “natural,” “plant-based,” “alternative,” and “eco-friendly.”
Anatomy of a great example:
I realize I was somewhat mocking of the notion of Boxed Water above, but really, it’s a great answer to the plastic water bottle issue.
In their copy, they’ve highlighted:
- Why they are better for the environment
- Why drinking their product contributes to a better future
- Why choosing plastic water bottles is a bad idea (very subtly)
Boxed Water might seem like a ridiculous notion to those of us who are willing to drink it directly from the tap, but it targets a market who want their water to be portable and prestigious. On top of that, they are committed to environmentally-friendly practices. They’re bound to put a competitor or two to shame.
Techniques of influence are the most important part of telling your story, and hopefully you’ve learned a few pointers in this blog series. The key takeaway to influencing people is to tell your story. Tell the truth, tell it with a smile, and have a great product.