Our Song: Eliciting Peak Emotional States for Powerful Persuasion
By Kenrick Cleveland+
We’ve all had this experience: a song comes on the radio and we’re transported back to a time and place ten, fifteen, twenty years ago or longer. Maybe it was a song that reminded us of a time when we were struggling through a broken heart, or maybe it was just the opposite, the soundtrack for our first true love.
As you drift back in your memories to that girlfriend or a boyfriend, remember having a date with somebody that you really wanted to date. And if you didn’t have any dates in high school then pick another time.
When I was sixteen years old I met my first wife. Around that time Chicago had a song that was popular, ‘Twenty-Five or Six To Four’. To this day when that song comes on the radio I remember the new Toyota Celica GT that I had and the drive up the Columbia Gorge off into the middle of nowhere to see her and the excitement that coursed through my body and mind as I thought of being able to spend some time with her. To this day I hear that song and I’m there all over again. I’m in the memory, driving east on 84. The car has that new car smell. Chicago is playing on the radio. I have an incredible sense of power and anticipation and I’m trilled to be alive.
That was over thirty years ago and it’s crystal clear. And I’m taken back by a song.
Maybe right now in your marriage or with your significant other you have a song that when you hear it both of you say, ‘Oh, that’s our song,’ or maybe you’ve had an ‘our song’ in the past that you can remember.
What is that phenomenon and what does this have to do with persuasion?
It’s called anchoring and anchoring has everything to do with persuasion.
Music has the ability to put you in intense emotional states. These emotional states are connected with the stimulus of the memory. They travel through neuro-pathways of emotions and memories that words and language cannot. And sometimes music affects us so intensely that we want to share it with others, but a song that touches me deeply may not touch you as deeply. It’s extraordinarily individual and powerful. Aldous Huxley said, ‘After silence, that which comes closest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’
We’re constantly exposed to things that we have been conditioned to react to. It’s often been said that we are far more reactive than proactive. The human brain is really more on automatic pilot than it is a conscious device. We think we’re conscious. We have a vested interest in thinking that. But we’re really not.
Most of the things you do are habitual. The deepest core things you do are obviously and completely automatic. How long can you pay attention consciously to your breathing? Seconds? A minute or two? But you sure don’t do it twenty-four hours a day. What about when you’re sleeping? If you had to consciously remember to breathe, we wouldn’t be here.
The key to this for persuasion purposes is, what if we could elicit an emotion and get it up to a peak and pair it with a unique stimulus so that any time we used that stimulus it reminded it of that emotion? That would be a pretty powerful tool, wouldn’t it?
This is not to say we’re going to elicit our prospect’s musical history and play the songs and attach that special, happy, excited or calm feelings to ourselves, but if you can understand the way anchoring works through the example of ‘our song’, then you’ve internalized the concept of anchoring.
And, you can use this knowledge by eliciting your clients’ strongest emotional states that are immediately usable for anchoring purposes and what would those be? Criteria. When a person tells you their highest criteria, it makes them emotional. They’ll feel it. And when that happens, you can pair it with some unique state. It’s just that simple.