Soap versus gel- Matthew Parris and a very persuasive conversation19th October 2011
At Flagship Consulting we have developed our own bespoke model for changing the way people think about things. We call it ‘persuasive conversations’ and we use it when putting together any form of communication, whether it is a press release or a proposal. Raising profile is all very well, but communications need to be stronger than that. To be successful they need to make you do or think something you may not otherwise have considered.
So when journalist Matthew Parris started his campaign in The Times to get people to abandon shower gel in favour of soap, I suddenly had a wake up call. Of course I am aware of soap and I am an expert on shower gel…but I have never really thought about them in great detail
So what happened ?
The first stage of the persuasive conversation is that you have to believe in the person or organisation that is having that conversation.
As a consumer, I know that Matthew Parris is totally non-commercial. He is a journalist and that implies that he is impartial. What is important is that he is not trying to sell me soap or anything else for that matter. What he is doing is creating debate and expressing opinion and leaving me to make up my own mind. So he meets the first part of our formula with flying colours. He has credibility.
It is all very well having credibility but to change behaviour you have to present compelling evidence. This he did in spades. From the difficulties of using the gel (“Do you lift foot to cupped palm or stretch cupped palm down to foot whilst trying not to spill the gel – or squat and try to squirt it on to your foot”), to pointing out the unpleasant sounding contents (“Gels are synthetic detergents made from the sodium salts of sulfates or benzene sulfonates which are derived from petroleum products”).
Great…I am washing myself with petrol…..this is madness! The compelling evidence is definitely there.
Next come further conversations. Social media is beginning to buzz with this topic and the gel PR’s are swinging into action. Matthew Parris describes all the products he is being sent and the arguments he is being presented with. Everything I read and hear is pushing me towards soap. I start having conversations with peers and other people I trust. They too have heard the arguments and listened to the issues and most seem to be soap people.
Finally there is the call to action….am I or am I not going to be a soap girl? Well the persuasive conversation worked because having never even contemplated using soap for anything other than washing my hands, my newly purchased bar of soap is accompanying me to the shower tonight!