Tom Asacker: When we make any decision in life, we have come to the conclusion that whatever that choice is, is the appropriate choice for us given our place, time, circumstances. So that in essence is what a belief is. The word “belief” comes from an old word, root of the word “lief” which means “to wish.” So to believe something is to wish that it is right, is appropriate, is the best choice. So our beliefs are driven by our desires to have the right choice for us as individuals.
Robert Bruce: So how does belief relate to trust? And which comes first?
Tom Asacker: I’ve been asked that, for the distinction between belief and trust more than one time. And the way I think about it is that belief is something that comes before the actual experience. So I would say trust is one step beyond belief and that some type of experience has been validated for us.
Robert Bruce: And what does this have to do with persuasion? Well, we do what we believe in – so if you’re looking to inspire action, you must first inspire belief.
Tom Asacker: … what we desire is what we end up believing. And what we believe is what we end up doing. So it’s desire, belief, action. And then the action either reinforces the belief, supports it, encourages more of it, or it doesn’t.
If you can discover desire, you win.
Robert Bruce: So what’s the key to modern persuasion? How do we discover what people desire in the first place?
Tom Asacker: … if you think about it: sell, persuade, even influence, they don’t seem to get at the essence of what’s required to move people. Especially when people are inundated with choice and then they’re very skeptical.
Then you have to really understand what’s going on inside of them so that you can align what you’re doing and complete that story in their head that’s already partially there.
Robert Bruce: It turns out that understanding your audience determines your ability to move them to action. And that takes good ol’ fashioned research – but the payoff from what you discover is powerful.
But here’s the thing … it’s much easier to discover and align your media content with the existing beliefs and world views of your prospective audience. In other words, discover desires and then fulfill them.
Tom Asacker: Let’s give them a “reason to believe,” and what they typically are saying, “let’s give them information to rationalize their decision.” Because their real reason to believe something is their desire for it.
If we go into an organization or if we’re marketers talking to a particular audience and we’re trying to get them to believe in something for which they have absolutely no desire to believe, it’s an impossible task because desire is what leads to belief.”