How To Make Someone Love What You Love

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How do you make someone else passionate about something you love…when they really just don’t care?

This was the fundamental question asked by Robert Scoble over at Scobleizer this week in his post entitled The Passionates vs. The Non-Passionates. I added a longish comment there, but the question has been incubating in my head for most of the week.

Scoble was talking largely about the tech-world, where there are usually a small number of early adopters who are passionate about both using and evangelizing a new “something.” And, he said, certain businesses can survive with a small, but devoted group of users.

But, what if your concept requires a much larger number of people to thrive?

How do you get a non early-adopter to become so passionate about something that they not only become a user, but an agent of buzz?  The answer is actually pretty straight forward, but the burden can sometimes be large.

Make it insanely relevant and deeply desired.

Here’s part of my comment from Scoble’s blog:

Early adopters tend to be mavens, people who are passionate about acquiring and sharing knowledge. That zest for learning drives them to seek out and explore the application of all sorts of products, services and technologies. Their passion isn’t just about the content area (tech), it’s about the entire process of ferreting, learning and sharing.

So, how do you get those without a similar bent to want to know what you know and use what you use?

Step into their shoes and ask the “what’s in it for me?” question.

Brainstorm ways to show them how it solves a problem, eases a pain and does it bigger, better and faster than anything they currently use.

You can’t get people passionate about something by explaining why it’s so cool to “you.” You’ve got to explain why it’s so cool to “them.” Then, make the process of learning about and adopting your product, service or technology so dummy-proof, there’s literally no justification NOT to adopt it.

The big question is, can you make it insanely relevant and desired by a large number of people?

Can you grow the movement past that initial wave of maven-evangelist early-adopters?

Sometime the answer is no. If an application, solution or concept is truly very narrowly designed to solve a problem for a very small, but desperate slice of humanity, you may be stuck with a smaller market. And, that may be fine.

But, don’t automatically assume this to be true.

Very often that “seemingly” niche solution can be reapplied or tweaked to be used in a totally different way to solve an equally pervasive problem that a much bigger, yet different, market shares. But, to make this fly takes work.

When you’re trying to figure out how to get people with very different desires and interests jonesing about something you love…

Ask the “what’s in it for me?” question.

You’ve got to take people as they come. If they’re not interested in something, rather than trying to futily “show them the error of their ways,” take a trip into their brains, their interests, their desires, their pains.  Then, see if there’s some way to explain the solution or reapply it in a way that resonates not with what makes you jazzed about it, but what makes them want it bad.

That might mean a lot of brainstorming and a willingness to take on a fairly big educational burden.

These are all things to be weighed in deciding how much effort you want to put into expanding your reach and planting an ever-morphing viral passion seed for what you do.

You will very likely not only have to teach this new group of people how to use your solution, but also show them how it solves a really important, though not readily apparent, need for them. You’ll have to show them why it’s a absolute must-have…for them.

FYI – this isn’t just about business, it’s also about personal relationships.

Let’s say there’s something you absolutely love, but your significant other couldn’t care less about it.  You try to beat them over the head to make the understand just how insanely cool it is, but, despite your effort, they just don’t get it.  They just don’t care.

There’s a good chance they never will. BUT, before you give up, ask yourself whether you’ve been explaining it and offering it in a way that makes it as relevant as possible to your friend’s interests and desires. Often, we never take that final step.

So, what do you guys think?

Can you grow a passion seed way beyond it’s original ring of users and evangelists?

How much of a barrier is education? How much is this about not seeing why it’s important?

Is it really worth the effort? What am I missing?

Let’s discuss…

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14 responses

14 responses to “How To Make Someone Love What You Love”

  1. […] Go to the author’s original blog: How To Make Someone Love What You Love […]

  2. Brandon W says:

    I must be terribly critical here.

    Disclosure: I’m not a fan of Scoble in the first place. My feelings about him aside, the type of desire-creation he is yearning for is what has created a society of disastrous over-consumption that is destroying our environment and driving us to work ever harder and more hours to attain the impossible: desire-satiation. We aren’t going to be able to live like that much longer. Not to say Scoble is at fault for that – this started long before him – but the tech industry of which he is a representative is an egregious offender. As a society we must stop wastefully trying to convince the masses that every stupid gadget someone can come up with is actually a “need”. I could go on, but there’s more on this on my blog under a post entitled “Re-learning Sustainability”. See http://simplesustainability.blogspot.com/2008/07/re-learning-sustainability.html

  3. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Brandon – I get your argument when it comes to consumerism, but this post is not about that. It just happens to be what Scoble was talking about.

    This post IS about identifying an approach to facilitating the spread of ideas, gives you the tools to inspire others to find value and purpose in what you believe in, too. One that could be used equally well to promote not only the purchase of a product that drives technology, but the proliferation of an ideal that inspires legions toward sustainability. Get it?

  4. Brandon W says:

    @Jonathan – I will admit to being a bit unfair here. The idea that Scoble wanted to know how to wedge one more stupid tech gadget down people’s throats set off my reactionary comment. Allow me to respond from the angle in which you intended the post.

    In grad school I did substantial study and research on the concept of “leadership” – basically, getting others to follow you toward a goal (or goals). Some of the models are Authoritarian Leadership (historically prominent but ultimately the least effective), Servant Leadership (or, as I call it, “Leadership for Middle Managers”), and Visionary Leadership, which I found to be most relevant and effective for accomplishing great change.

    What is most important is not what theory you use, or whether you follow some or all of any particular theory. Most important is how the goal – or vision – is communicated. Certainly, part of that is how you frame it; a goal has to be explained in terms of the benefit of the final outcome. Even if it’s not a grand, world-changing goal… you have to explain why accomplishing it is important. This is similar to what you say with “what’s in it for me?”, but is more encompassing as a “what’s in it for US?” What’s more, the medium in which this is communicated is important too. To make a long story short, a final outcome should be communicated verbally, visually, and in written form; and if possible also in the form of myth or story (which can include some or all of the first 3 elements).

    I’ll end my comment there. I hope you find this input to be more constructive.

  5. Shama Hyder says:

    Okay, Jonathan-how do I get my future hubby to love my new puppy? He has never had pets…so can’t relate!

  6. Brandon W says:

    Shama,
    Have your future husband join you and your puppy in activities, rather than having The Puppy be the focus. Go for walks with him – and the puppy. Go to the park with him – and the puppy. These are good activities for the dog, anyway. The more you simply engage in activities with your fiancé that happen to include the puppy, the more he will see your new dog as a member of the family.

  7. Ankush says:

    A couple years ago, there was a very fascinating episode of Frontline about the marketing/advertising industry titled “The Persuaders” ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/ ). It addressed this subject in the context of selling not only products and services, but political ideas and candidates as well.

    There was also an interesting interview with Bill Bishop, author of “The Big Sort”, this week on The Daily Show. He explained how people for the first time have the ability to cluster into physical and/or virtual communities consuming ideas, information, products, and services that conforms to their existing beliefs and desires.

    I personally don’t believe you can make most people love what you love…and rarely overnight. Google, Apple, BMW, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Facebook, etc. They all have spent enormous amounts of time and money developing their “experiences” (brands). But the simple palpability of an experience doesn’t make it lovable unless it offers something that you’ve already longed for. As it gradually becomes an essential part of your lifestyle and you can’t live without it, it might fall into the “love” category. I’ve heard people speak this way about Blackberries, iPods, Macs, Starbucks, Google, Obama, recycling, conservation, etc.

    I believe that this “love” MUST be a self-realization. You can’t make anyone love anything. They have to learn to love it themselves. And once they love it, their own individual need to belong will dictate whether or not they also become “evangelists”.

  8. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Brandon – interesting research on leadership, thanks for sharing the benefit of it. I completely agree that, in my experience, visionary leadership is most effective. I’ve experienced the impact from both sides, as both a leader and a follower.

    And, absolutely, how you communicate that vision is critical to your success, no doubt using visual, auditory and kinesthetic approaches helps bring it all home.

    What I am suggesting actually adds to this, saying that when you do choose to communicate, you best hope at lighting the same fire is doing the work to understand why and how your passion is most relevant to the base needs, desires and predispositions of the person you hope to persuade.

    @ Shama – Okay, just tell him you read a new study that showed that 93% of guys who don’t like dogs earn 50% less than dog lovers, succeed at half the pace and were more likely to be bed wetters as kids. KIDDING! Do not, I repeat, do NOT do that (well, maybe just a little).

    Actually, I love Brandon’s advice, just bring the pup along when you guys do things you both love to do. Fact is, a lot of new parents don’t bond with their newborn children for some time, too, but, given time, that usually resolves itself.

    @ Ankush – Dude, coffee? Thanks for the link, wil definitely check it out. No doubt, the job of persuading someone else to love what you love is a tough one. And, I do agree that, in the end, the process has to involve a healthy bit of self-realization.

    But, you can facilitate that realization by providing the experiences, information and proof needed for someone to come to the conclusion that they do, in fact, like what you like. This is at the heart of all masterful persuasion and sales.

    And, step one is always understanding what’s most important to someone, then seeing if there is some way to frame your idea/product/service in a way that appeals to that person’s need, that inspires passion or desire from within themselves.

    Because, without an initial attraction or passion for what you love, they won’t do the work themselves. It’s more about figuring out the best way to light the fire, then stepping aside and just watching it burn…and maybe fanning it here and there.

    Whether they become evangelists after that, too, I don’t really see as a manifestation of a need to belong, but rather a desire to share something that’s meaningful ad beneficial to them.

    And, yes, I do agree that there are some things, heck, many things that will be exceptionally difficult, if not impossible to make desirable enough to inspire the process of conversion. If that’s the case, then I absolutely do not condone trickery or pressure as means of forcing adoption. There comes a time where you just need to find peace with your differences.

    Brandon, you’re gonna hate me for this, but I actually find Facebook to be a pretty fascinating example. Initially, it was all about college students connecting. There was a strong desire and pretty much no educational or technological hurdle to get people to adopt the technology.

    But most folks may age, especially those without a tech bent, sat back and said, “this has no value to me, I don’t get it and I don’t want to get it.” Plus, not already being savvy to the workings of social networking like the younger set had become largely through exposure to Myspace, the educational burden for us grumpy old men was too high.

    Then, after a few years, small number of 40-somethings began to explore. They started finding resources and even a bit of business. And, Facebook began to have enough value to justify learning how to use it.

    Then the next wave came along and realized that, increasingly, more and more old friends and schoolmates were joining and they could find them and reconnect. And, we all love to rediscover old friendships. In fact, for people of my generation without a lot of tech in their blood, at least among my friends, one of the biggest uses is essentially as a proxy for Classmates.com, but it’s free.

    Anyway, just a bit of rambling thoughts on a really hot Friday afternoon.

    What do you guys think?

  9. People develop an interest in things for a lot of different reasons. One that should not be overlooked is finding a way to link your interest to one of their existing positive emotional anchors. This can work in completely unrelated areas because it happens on the level of pleasurable association not logic.

    Here’s a real world example. A classroom of students decided to see if they could control where their teacher located himself during class simply by their response. When the teacher got close to the radiator the whole class acted really interested in everything he said. The further from the radiator he got the less they paid attention.

    Within one week they had the teacher sitting on the radiator. Why? Because he liked it when they were attentive (positive emotional anchor) and his subconscious linked that radiator to that positive emotion.

    Everything we do is linked to moving away from pain or toward pleasure. If you want your passion to be important to someone else, find a way to help them associate it with something they already enjoy.

  10. I agree with Jonathan of Advanced Life Skills. To get someone else interested in your passion, it must become associated with something he or she already enjoys. Sometimes we evolve into embracing a passion for various other reasons, but I’m sure it’s never because it was forced on us.

  11. plozano76 says:

    Thanks for bringing this up… My colleagues and I always have a hard time sharing our passion for our work (Montessori education) with parents; we come across sounding as fanatic zealots, when all we really want is for them to realize how much easier their lives would be – and how much happier their children would be – if they explored different types of parenting and schooling options.

    I really like the point you make about looking at it from the other person’s perspective. I’ll give it a try next time… I’ll try to find a parenting dilemma they are going through and explain the solution from our philosophical standpoint. Huh, I learn something new every day!

  12. Laurie says:

    I would comment longer on this but I need you to tell me what’s in it for me? (Joke :O))

  13. Justin says:

    I am in this exact situation right now. I need people to get passionate about something that I am passionate about, in order to convince them to invest in a project I am doing. It is incredibly important, and there’s not a lot of time. I’ll utilize the tips here, thank you very much!

  14. Ricky Yun says:

    This is awsome! look forward to more thanks!