While in San Juan, I worked with someone who was the Strategic Sales Director for a well-known advertising agency in NY.  And we got talking about the importance of framing in communication.  And he shared a strategy the used consistently with his clients to make sure that they bought the campaign that he wanted them to buy.

One of the things he did was to create a situation in which the client was clear about what they wanted and was ready to buy once they saw the solution that met their specific needs.  The challenge is that client’s don’t always know what they want and need to be educated.

So before the actual presentation, the sales director would talk with the client about a proposal that they were working on that the client was sure to like.  The client gets excited but is told that there are a few problems with the campaign as well.  Of course, the client isn’t as interested.

Then later on, another proposal is being prepared that overcomes the first proposal’s issues but has some different issues.  The client is initally excited but disappointed because of the apparent pitfalls.

Then last, but not least, on the final day of the presentation they reveal the ideal proposal for a marketing campaign that solves both sets of problems associated with the first two campaigns.  The client is thrilled and buys the campaign.

Have you seen this before?  Of course you have.  Anyone who has worked with a real estate agent before has seen this framing strategy in action.  The realtor first shows you a run-down fixer-upper that doesn’t meet your needs, onto an over-priced house to set the contrasting price frame, and then finally the perfect house at the right price is the last one you see and hopefully buy because of your contrasting frames.

As you can see, framing is everything.  We don’t know how to evaluate something unless we have something to compare it to. When communicating with a client, co-worker, or employee, think about what framing is necessary to get them to see things in the same way that you do.

One of the things I liked about the sales director’s strategy is that he would do the contrasting before the meeting through subtle hints.  It wasn’t one, two, three on the day of the meeting.  He was able to educate the consumer and show contrast all out of awareness and before the big day.  The client sees you’ve done your homework and put a lot of time and effort into creating the best proposal possible which is ideally irresistible.

There’s no reason we can’t do the same thing in our day to day communications.  Over the next day or say, pay attention to how people frame their call to actions and how you frame yours.  And pay attention to the responses that each call to action generates.  Enjoy!

John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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