Before he left on a trip to the state of Zhao, Pang Cong, an official of the state of Wei, asked the King of Wei whether he would hypothetically believe in a single person’s report that a tiger was roaming the markets in the capital city.
“No,” replied the King.
Pang Cong then asked what the King would think if two people reported the same thing.
“I would begin to wonder,” said the king
Finally, Pang Cong asked, “What if three people all claimed to have seen a tiger?”
“In that case, said the king, “I would believe it.”
Pang Cong cautioned the King that the notion of a live tiger in a crowded market was absurd. It seemed real only because it had been repeated by numerous people.
Why did Pang Cong want to make this point? Because he had more than three enemies who would slander him while he was away and he did not want the king to believe them. The ploy did not work: upon his return, Pang Cong was shunned by the king and lost his position.
The moral, of course, is that we are inclined to believe things we hear repeated by enough people. While this can have negative consequences – like believing things that aren’t really true – we tend to forget how important it is for achieving positive consequences – like convincing prospective learners of the value of our products.
By far, the number one tactical issue we encounter when assessing the marketing efforts of education businesses is lack of social proof. Little or no use of testimonials. No data to suggest that people are buying and benefitting from the organization’s educational offerings.
In short, no real effort to produce a tiger in the marketplace.
In the vast majority of cases, this situation can be easily addressed. It just requires having discipline and doing the necessary footwork.
Take a look at your catalog pages and other promotional materials. If you don’t see substantial amounts of social proof there, start making a plan to change that. It’s one of the easiest and most effective things you can do to change the prospects for your education business this year.
Photo credit and copyright: Rawee Suksaeng