Do Your Insights Incite Or Excite?
Sure, the two words may share the same root, but those little prefixes give them very different meanings in an insights messaging context.
When it comes to messaging and selling with insights, you should ask yourself a simple question as a litmus test: Do your insights excite prospects for a passing moment or do they incite them to take buying action?
Sure, the two words may share the same root, but those little prefixes give them very different meanings in an insights messaging context. This distinction is an important one to draw because your ability to elicit one response and not the other could be the difference between a message that gets consumed and forgotten about and one that instigates the behavior changes you’re looking for.
This was the focus of a recent experiment Corporate Visions did with Dr. Zakary Tormala, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In short, we designed the study with the purpose of measuring the messaging effectiveness of two different types of insights-based approaches:
- Risk-only insightsare designed to make prospects feel their status quo is “unsafe” by introducing them to surprising new industry data, statistics, or studies.
- Risk + resolution insights similarly make the status quo feel unsafe, but also introduce solutions that resolve the prospect to a “new safe” in the same message.
Specifically, the aim of the experiment was to determine whether insights that presented risk with resolution would have a greater persuasive impact than insights that only brought risk into the equation (like I’ve seen many companies do and call them insights).
The study included more than 320 individuals, evenly split by gender, who took part in an online experiment. Prior to the study, the participants, unbeknownst to them, were randomly assigned to one of three insights message conditions:
- In the risk only conditions, participants received a message that offered new, potentially surprising information about vitamin D deficiency, how widespread it is, and its associated risks.
- In the risk + resolutioncondition, participants received the exact same information designed to create the risk, but also received a follow-up message describing a number of straightforward, practical solutions for combating vitamin D deficiency.
- The study also included a solution/resolution only condition to act as a control. Here, participants received only a message about possible remedies for vitamin D deficiency, but without any of the surprising, upfront findings.
On a separate screen, after viewing their respective conditions, all participants were led to a series of questions assessing the effect of the message on their behavioral intentions, as well as their emotional reactions to the message itself.
To assess behavioral intentions, participants were asked how likely they would be to change their behavior based on the information they just read and how likely they would be to take some sort of action based on the information, in addition to other questions in this vein. Each question was accompanied by a scale ranging from one to nine, with higher numbers indicating more favorable responses. These numbers were then averaged to create a composite index of behavioral intentions.
Across these measures, there was a statistically significant effect of message condition on behavioral intentions. As illustrated in the figure below, the risk + resolutioninsight offering generated more favorable behavioral intentions than the risk only or resolution onlyconditions, which did not differ from each other statistically (though the risk onlymessage tended to be more effective than the resolution onlyone).
Specifically, the study found that presenting both risk and resolution in an insight enhanced its impact by an average of nearly 9% over the other conditions.
The study also looked at more emotional-type reactions to the message, since insights are primarily designed to create an emotive response that creates the urgency for a prospect to take action. In this case, the experiment revealed a statistically significant effect demonstrating that the risk + resolutioncondition evoked greater emotional responses than the risk only or solutions onlyconditions, which did not differ from each other.
In this case, the insight message containing risk and resolution boosted emotional responses by an average of nearly 12% compared to the other conditions, as shown by the figure below.
What this boils down to is that across several key dimensions, persuasion is enhanced when insights recipients receive a message containing novel risk information linked to possible resolution alternatives, versus when they are just presented risk- or resolution-based messages.
In other words, an insights message that connects risk and resolution excites prospects about the idea of change, but doesn’t stop there. It also incitesthose potential customers to take action and actually pursue the change management process you’re trying to lead them on.
So, while offering an insights message with some surprising statistics may have some early-stage utility, you may struggle to translate that excitement into actionable buying steps if you can’t show prospects how you can resolve that risk. By pairing risk with resolution, you stand to truly create the context for change and generate more than just excitement in your customer conversations.