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Using Evidence to Support the Idea

Now back to the Vaporub story. The evidence of the example was used to support the idea of increased usage, suggesting to mothers that they use the product on both the front and the back of the child.

Let me show you why we’re confident that the idea will work.

During September, October, and November we conducted a pilot test in Sudbury, Ontario. We selected one hundred homes. We picked up their Vaporub jars, and replaced them with full ones. The customers were happy because they ended up with more Vaporub than they had before. We didn’t tell them about the test. We did the same thing in one hundred homes in a control market.

The Vaporub “Front and Back” Advertising Test

For three months we ran special “Vaporub, front and back” advertising in Sudbury. Our regular old advertising ran in the control market. Then we picked up all the jars again and replaced them with full ones.

We melted down the contents of the hundred jars from Sudbury and compared it to what we obtained from the melted down jars in the control market.

The Sudbury test market had used 14 percent more Vaporub.

We examined and reexamined the test. It was clean in every way. That’s why we are confident that our recommendation is solid and on target: Vaporub “Front and Back” advertising will increase sales.

It’s important that your evidence supports the idea recommendation by showing that your solution is likely to bring about the benefits. Do not use evidence that merely proves the reality of the problem. At this point the audience accepts the problem as real; they don’t need to see graphs and charts that show declining sales. They should see the graph or chart that shows how the Sudbury experiment raised product usage by 14 percent.

6. Summary (of Recommendation and Benefits)

The summary should be brief. In our example, the first sentence summarizes the idea recommendation:

In summary, we recommend that the company change Vaporub’s advertising strategy from what it is currently, which is product purchase, to product usage.

The second sentence reprises the benefits to the audience:

By doing so, we anticipate a sales increase of 10 to 15 percent.

The key point here is to restate the idea in one sentence. Restate the key benefit only.

7. Calendar Action

Finish your idea presentation by stating one action that will get the ball rolling. When should it happen? Put it on the calendar:

The recommended next step would be to schedule a meeting with the advertising agency, share this presentation with them, and begin the change process. With your approval, I’d like to schedule that meeting for Tuesday of next week.

As you can see, the format enables you to present your thinking in a persuasive and logical manner. The presentation should be short in time (ten minutes is usually enough) but long on persuasive content. The Calendar Action step assures that your work will not be in vain; your listeners will have to make a decision—and you have an advantage.


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