The Contrast Principle

Another tidbit from To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink (the book I wrote about the other day) is the notion of the 'Contrast Principle'. Pink tells the story of when two ad executives were walking through Central Park and came upon a blind man begging for money holding a sign that read, "I'm blind."

They found that the man had only collected a few coins.

One of the ad executives decided to help. He asked the man if he could make a small change to his sign.  The man complied and the exec added four simple words to the sign.

Immediately, the execs noticed that people began to give the blind man more and more money. This continued throughout the day and the blind man had his most profitable day ever.

The four words that the exec added to the sign? "It's spring time and...".

"It's spring time and I'm blind."

By contrasting the experience of the person walking by with the experience of the blind man asking for change, the sign was able to give people better perspective on the blind man's situation.

Who knows if this story is true. But the point is a great one. Providing buyers with a contrast is critical. For innovation sales to work, there has to be a significant contrast between what exists now and what will exist in the future. The buyer must fully understand the current state.

Humans notice the difference between things, we don't notice absolutes.