WHEN A CHILD Handprintsneeds to go wash her hands, it’s best not to say, “don’t touch the walls!”  That’s the surest way to ensure that you’ll get handprints all over the place.

Instead, you give them the positive instruction, “keep your hands together until you get to the bathroom!”

The idea is that the word “not” tends to be filtered out, and you’re firmly planting the unconscious message, “touch the walls!”  This has been verified through experimentation, and I’ve seen it work in practice.

The same works for adults.

What got me thinking about this today was that I recently met Angel Tuccy and Eric Reamer, hosts of the popular Experience Pros radio show.  They focus this show exclusively on the POSITIVE messaging around businesses, in contrast with every other TV and radio show that focuses on complaining and generating conflict.

They’re doing very well with the show, expanding into new markets across the country.  Clearly they’re addressing a need for positive, uplifting information and business recommendations.

How do you approach this in your own marketing approach?  Suppose that you do wedding planning services.  Your most memorable messages might be:

  • “We’ll take care of the smallest details so you don’t have to worry about them.”
  • “Remember your cousin’s wedding that got totally out of control and was a disaster?  We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen to you.”
  • “You’ve been dreaming about your special day since you were a little girl.  We’ll bring that dream to life.”

Each one of these statements may be absolutely true.  But you may also see that the last one touches an emotional chord that the others don’t.  Part of it is the logical vs. emotional distinction, left-brain vs. right-brain.  More important, though, is that the last one is much more attractive because it’s inherently positive.

In your own business, you may find it more difficult.  If you have a car repair shop, you mostly interact with people who have discovered a problem and want it fixed.  It seems like a relationship that’s based on an inherently negative thing; when their vehicles are operating just fine they don’t even talk to you.  And they certainly don’t see a reason to come in and spend money with you, right?

Even in this case, I’d encourage you to explore some positive associations:

  • The customer likes working with YOU, specifically, because you’re fair, honest, super friendly, and he trusts that you’re not going to overcharge.
  • The customer has developed a positive vision that she can rely on her car 100%, because with regular checkups you’ve found and prevented any major issues.
  • The customer constantly recommends you to others, feeling good about helping others who are dissatisfied with their repair shop.

Are there any positive associations that you have with your providers who focus on problem-fixing?  I’m thinking your doctor, dentist, repair shop, tax preparer, and so on.  Certainly if they can compel you to give them business with a positive image, then you can do it too!

What’s the best examples you see of powerful positive messaging?

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