Learn in seconds the words that motivate an audience

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Take some time to learn your audience's motivations so you can use the right words to stir them to action. LAB profiling will help you to understand your audience and hone the message of your scribe videos.

LAB (language and behaviour) profiling might sound complicated – but bear with me, it's actually really simple.

LAB profiling is about the way that people talk – and what it tells us about their motivations. It also works in reverse – talking a certain way will attract certain types of people to your product or idea.

We've whittled 60 LAB patterns down to three important categories that will help you to promote your message to different types of people.

Are your potential customers likely to be…

Proactive or reactive?

Proactive people initiate things. They spend little or not time thinking about the consequences. They are good at getting the job done.

Reactive people wait for other people to initiate things. They consider everything carefully before acting. They make good analysts.

How to reach both

Proactive people tend to buy something or commit to an idea when they get to do something straight away. They get frustrated when there are delays. They like to think of themselves as trailblazers and are more likely to go for aspirational products and support groundbreaking ideas. Proactive audiences respond well to strong calls to action, e.g. 'Now is the time to do x!'

Reactive people will only invest emotionally or financially when your proposal will allow them to gain understanding. They will carefully research and weigh up the pros and cons before committing. They will be more likely to commit if you suggest that this is what they have been waiting for, e.g. 'It's about the time you found the perfect....'

Over 60% of people are a mix of both types while clear proactive types and clear reactive types account for 20% apiece- so don't worry if your message contains a bit of both approaches.

What to say

Proactive – jump in,  hurry!, this is your opportunity, go for it, right now, 'just do it!'

Reactive – here's something to think about, let's consider, research, it's time to decide.

Toward or away from?

The way people motivate themselves falls into two categories – they either feel they are moving toward a goal, or away from a problem.

'Toward' people are focused on the prize. They think in terms of milestones and aims to be achieved. They are motivated to succeed and are energised by their goals. 

'Away from' people are energised by threats. They are motivated when there is a problem to fix and judge their achievements by looking back at how far they have come. 

How to reach both

In training, you might decide to focus on the fact that gaining this qualification will allow your learners to move toward their career goals, or move away from having to do unsatisfying tasks. 

If you are selling flu medicine, your product is naturally an 'away from' product – away from pain, discomfort and irritating symptoms. If you are selling expensive perfume, it will be a 'toward' product – toward a more glamorous, aspirational lifestyle.

A lot of products and services, however, will fall somewhere in the middle. Whichever approach you are going for, it helps to work out what amount of each direction will work best for what you are trying to achieve. In most cases, looking at what your product or idea does should make it fairly obvious.

About 40% of people are clear 'away from', 40% are clear 'toward' types and the remainder is mixed, so it's crucial to consider this one carefully.

What to say

Toward – achieve, reach, attain, include, win.

Away from –  avoid, get rid of, prevent, solve.

Internal or external?

This category is about the source of a person's motivation. People tend to either make their decisions based on internal or external factors.

Internally focused people provide their own motivation from within. They gather information and process it according to their own beliefs and experiences before making a judgement. They don't need external praise because they hold their own standards within themselves.

Externally focused people need other people's feedback and opinions to make a decision. They gather information and process it as fact, comparing facts to arrive at a conclusion. They need interaction and encouragement to stay motivated.

How to reach both

To motivate an internal you need to speak to their inside reason, e.g. 'If you want x to happen, you need to [complete this task/ purchase our product]'. Make them central to the decision-making process and address them directly. Appeal to their sense of autonomy, e.g. 'You know what you like best, that's why...'

External people need to be presented with references and a credible, experienced spokesperson. They like to know who else agrees with you or has bought your product, so recognisable figures add credibility. They are likely to be conscious of how aligning themselves with you or choosing certain brands will make them look to others.

Again, 40% of people are clear 'away from', 40% are clear 'toward' types and the remainder is mixed – but it is fairly easy to mix both approaches in your message.

What to say

Internal – it's up to you, you're in control, what do you think?, have you thought about…?

External – get noticed, be the centre of attention, x thinks that this product is great, this product is proven to…


Once you've worked out which approach is going to work best for your message, the right words to convert your audience will fall into place. And your scribe video will be that much stronger.

You can read more about LAB profiling and sales strategies in Words That Change Minds.

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