Why Facts Don't Matter (and Why You Can’t Change What People Believe)

Changing something a person believes is nearly impossible, even if you’re loaded with facts and statistics. It’s not how people think.

Why?

It’s their “worldview.” This is important for marketing and sales. Your customer’s values, beliefs and biases have shaped their thinking … thinking that is unlikely to be changed, no matter the facts.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “worldview” lately, prompted by reading Seth Godin’s book, All Marketers are Liars. 

Today I’ll share a few quotes from his book that I think are instructional to help you understand why you must reinforce what your customer already believes. Your prospects and customers seek out stories that reinforce a point-of-view that they identify with.

The premise of Godin’s book is that stories move people to action. I concur. Stories transform marketing positioning and messaging and create stronger memory and recall. People seek out stories that reinforce their worldview, even if the facts aren’t accurate. Nearly a year ago I wrote about the science of opinions and why facts don’t matter (read it here).

Godin writes that “worldview is the term I use to refer to the rules, values, beliefs and biases that an individual consumer brings to a situation. A worldview is not who you are. It’s what you believe. It’s your biases. A worldview is not forever. It’s what the consumer believes right now.”

Here are several thought-provoking quotes from Godin’s book:

This on why stories should agree with your customer’s worldview:

Great stories agree with our worldview. The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.

This on why you shouldn’t try to change someone’s worldview (even if the facts and data reveal they are wrong):

Don’t try to change someone’s worldview is the strategy most smart marketers follow. Don’t try to use facts to prove your case and to insist that people change their biases. You don’t have enough time and you don’t have enough money. Instead, identify a population with a certain worldview, frame your story in terms of the worldview and you win. 

This, on preconceived worldviews:

Worldviews are the reason that two intelligent people can look at the same data and walk away with completely different conclusions—it’s not that they didn’t have access to the data or that they have poor reasoning skill, it’s simply that they had already put themselves into a particular worldview before you even asked the question.

Finally:

Every consumer has a worldview that affects the product you want to sell. That worldview alters the way they interpret everything you say and do. Frame your story in terms of that worldview, and it will be heard.

In a time when opinions are strong, and consensus and compromise are elusive, remember that facts often don’t matter, and your prospects and customers engage and buy from (or donate to) organizations that align with their worldview.

 

Comment

Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.