THE BLOG

When Trying to Persuade in This Noisy World, It's Still About the Idea

16/07/2013 14:15 BST | Updated 11/09/2013 10:12 BST

Has it become more difficult to get your message noticed in recent years? After all, the marketplace is more crowded and people are more distracted than ever before.

That question and a few others were handled by advertising legend Trevor Beattie and PR guru Mark Borkowski at a recent talk at the British Library called The Art and Business of Persuasion.

Beattie and Borkowski offered the following three pieces of advice on what it takes to persuade in 2013.

Be bold. First of all, you have to get noticed. So how fearless are you with your brand? Do you want to be liked or loved? Can you motivate action? Red Bull was cited as an example of a brave brand. It sponsored Felix Baumgartner's Stratos jump from the edge of space in 2012. It was, of course, a high-risk endeavour in all senses of the word for all parties. But it was brave and it worked out incredibly well in the end. The lesson - the human brain is wired to pay attention to the unusual and to danger.

Be truthful. The rise of the herd has major implications. Thanks to social media platforms, everyone now has a voice. And they're not afraid to speak their minds about any brand, company or cause. Mark Borkowski's advice is to recognise the power of the crowd and to be authentic. Great ideas and communicators have always used the available technologies of the day. The lesson - always be honest.

Be creative. Trevor Beattie created Wonderbra's 'Hello Boys' adverts and the 'fcuk' campaign. Arguably one of Britain's most successful admen, he says that any attempt to persuade is wasted unless there is a great idea at the core of the campaign. Original ideas will always get noticed. And keep it short and simple because people have always had short attention spans. The lesson - seek out great ideas by being passionate, developing a child-like curiosity and engaging with people.

So although the media landscape has changed hugely, we human beings haven't changed that much in terms of what it takes for us to be influenced. The emerging field of neuromarketing is uncovering evidence that it is the 'reptilian brain' inside us which ultimately makes all our decisions, even though it takes input from our 'thinking' and 'feeling' brains.

Concerned primarily with our survival, the stimuli that trigger our inner brain to pay attention have not changed. It is visual so, as Trevor Beattie says, stand out from the crowd and be creative with your ideas. It is also cynical so, as Mark Borkowski says, be truthful.