Build Content That Helps People Act

Build Content That Helps People Act

We market to people because we hope that our messages will spur them to take action. Can your audience easily see how your message fits into their lives? If not, there’s a good chance they won’t take any action on it.

In Malcolm Gladwells’ book, The Tipping Point(affiliate link), he cites an interesting case study. An experiment took place at Yale University trying to convince students to get a tetanus shot; two different packets of information were prepared with information about the benefits of getting the shot. One was purely informational, and one was aimed at instilling fear in the students by describing potential consequences if they didn’t get the shot. After the students were split up and each group was allowed to read one of the packets, they took a survey which would indicate which group was more motivated to get the shot. Predictably, it was the ones that received the packet aimed at instilling fear.

Only a very small percentage of students, however, went to get the shot. And totally unexpectedly, there was no difference in between the two different groups. The fact that one of the packets instilled fear, and that the students who read it seemed more motivated to get the shot, made no difference in their actual behavior.

The experiment was done again, and this time there was a small change made – in the packet was included a map of the university campus with the health center giving the shots circled, and a list of the times the center was open. This one small change resulted in a 28% increase in students getting tetanus shots.

Why did the percentage raise so dramatically? Because the map made the message fit into the students lives. It took the information from an abstraction to something practical and actionable. And that made all the difference.

Help your audience see how to apply your message. If they can picture themselves taking action, there are higher chances that they actually will.


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