The Calculator Within, Part 1

In my experience, there is no better way to foster a heated discussion than to quantify a claim. From guessing how many gumballs are in a pickle jar to forecasting future interest rates, humans have an inner calculator ready to quantify the size, scale and trajectory. Of course, anyone and everyone can shout out a number. Some, however, are more savvy (and more accurate) with their calculators than others.

Many marketers, myself included, present quantified claims. Fewer, however, explore the behavioral impact of such claims on customers. How you frame a discussion about quantitative information determines if you are “in the game” or irrelevant.

Quantifying claims achieves two important outcomes. First the quantified claim either establishes or fails to establish a bond of empathy between you and the customer around a specific area of interest. One clever example is a local real estate agent who sends a monthly mailer including the address, number of bedrooms and sale price of local houses. For homeowners in the neighborhood, this mailer sets their inner calculators abuzz with estimates of the change in value of their own homes. For renters or homeowners in different neighborhoods, the calculator is quiet.

Second, the quantified claim either establishes or fails to establish credibility. Returning to home real estate, think of all the mortgage refinance offers you receive in the mail offering below-market interest rates. The savvy inner calculator quickly rejects the low-ball rate. These mailers exist to prey on people who’s inner calculators are less refined or perhaps malfunctioning.

Empathy and credibility are important prerequisites for any conversation or business transaction. Prerequisites are nice, but I play to win. Moving from prerequisites to winning transactions is important work–and the focus of part two of this topic. You can read part 2 on December 8 right here at Bill Freedman’s Soon To Be A Major Trend.