You know your subject well…
You feel passionately engaged with it…
You’ve shaped it into well-targeted content for the specific people you want to help…
And yet, no one seems to want what you have to offer.
Your advice is all good to go – but no one seems to want to take it.
Recent psychological research may offer an explanation.
The Why and How Of Advice Giving
The experiments looked at our attitudes to giving and taking of advice.
Often, when we give advice, we do so from a position of psychological distance: we don’t expect people to implement what we say immediately, so there is time distance.
We may regard ourselves as broadcasting to the world, so there is geographical distance.
And to appeal to aspiration, we may describe an ideal set of behaviours – lofty ambitions which are difficult to realize practically – and therefore, distant.
We will enjoy examining WHY people fail to achieve the ideal.
So if we’re advising our audience on how to fry eggs, we may describe the perfect skillet to buy, the best eggs for frying, whether oil, butter or bacon fat is best for frying…all this could end up being quite an essay.
When we switch ourselves into the role of an advice-seeker – we just want to cook a half-decent fried egg or two – and fast.
We want advice that is close to us and immediately practical: like how hot the oil should be ( with a sheen on it, apparently), and how to get the egg evenly cooked (spooning oil over the top).
We want to know HOW to make our eggs sizzle well, rather than WHY they don’t succeed.
Barry Schwartz in The Paradox of Choice, gives more ideas as to how to make advice relevant and memorable.
We remember things based on peak experience and last experience – so if we’re making a frying eggs advice video, then dramatically sliding the sizzling egg on to the plate and declaring ‘look, no rubber!’ could be your peak experience content.
Your last experience content may be an eater, chomping on an egg enthusiastically, and purring ‘ Hmmn perfect…’.
And the mood we’re in when receiving advice matters, too.
When we’re in a good mood, we’re happier considering a wider range of options than if we’re in a black mood, where the most immediate suggestion will be welcomed.
And this is how specific advice which is close to us, and easy to implement, can convert into memorable advertising messages.
Like the remarkably successful Fay Weldon advert from the 1950s: