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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=Social Proof'>Social Proof</a>
Sales Strategy
Ben Wise & Darren Chiu, CAPTIVATE

Want to learn how to keep someone hooked and guide their actions?

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for days? Oddly enough, the best remedy is to simply listen to the entire song. That may seem counterintuitive, but it works because it quenches the human desire for completion and closure. Without finishing the song, you are left in a state of mental tension. Our brains nag us until the task is done. Once you have heard the full song, you can hit the reset button and move on.

This demonstrates the concept of the Unfinished Journey, or the Zeigarnik Effect as it’s called in the academic world, after psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik. Simply put, open tasks linger in your mind like unfinished tunes, silently demanding resolution.

The magic is that we can use this psychological quirk to improve our persuasive skills. By designing an unfinished journey you keep people engaged, making them more receptive to your ideas and suggestions.

Show Progress

Break down requests or tasks into smaller parts and guide people through each step as a journey. Each completed step feels rewarding, as it brings them one closer to completion. Like the checkout page on an ecommerce site, help people visualize a progress bar -  it highlights what's been done, motivating users to push through to the finish line.

Storytelling with a Twist

It’s no secret that storytelling is an effective tool in your persuasion toolkit. Our brains love a good story, and when it's left unresolved, we crave the ending. Start a story with an intriguing question or open-ended situation – like classic TV cliffhangers (Succession, anyone?), or the opening line of this email – then provide the satisfying resolution later. For example, use ad sequencing in a marketing campaign, or slowly reveal bits of information in the lead up to a product launch.

Extend the Journey

Try turning a regular action into the last piece of a longer journey making it a necessary step to achieve completion. Airbnb does this brilliantly, framing reviews as "One last step to complete your journey." It makes a routine task feel like a satisfying conclusion.

In your next meeting that requires persuasion, prepare one of the three tactics to help create an unfinished journey -  Show progress, Storytelling with a twist and Extend the journey - where they only get closure through the desired behaviour. Choose the right tactic for your objective and feel free to test out more than one.

Want to learn more? Check out these great resources:

For an introduction to the Zeigarnik effect and the research behind it, this article in Psychology Today is a great starting point. 

Influence is Your Superpower by Zoe Chance offers a great overview of the Zeigarnik effect with examples focused on using the unfinished journey to drive persuasion with examples ranging from click bait to loyalty programs to movies. 

Finally, Online Influence by Bas Wouters and Joris Groen goes through several real world examples (including the AirBnB one above) of using the unfinished journey in online marketing.

 Authored By:

bwBen Wise is a 15 year industry veteran who has held successive sales and leadership roles at Google, where he is currently the Head of Programmatic Media working with the largest agencies and brands in Canada. Ben is active in his community where he serves on the Board of the Daily Bread Food Bank and recently completed a two year term as the board chair. Ben advises multiple startups on sales and go to market strategy and volunteers in various mentorship programs helping students and young professionals.

Darren Profile PhotoDarren Chiu is a Strategy Lead at Google, helping brands across all industries develop best in class marketing strategies. With over 12 years of industry experience, Darren’s passion for communication doesn’t stop at the world of business and sales. In his spare time, Darren moonlights as a comedic storyteller, stretching his creativity and perspectives beyond the boundaries of his professional life. As a recognition of his dedication and expertise, Darren was selected as an Emerging Leader in Advertising & Sales by The Peak in 2023.

Ben Wise & Darren Chiu are the founders of Captivate, helping you apply the art and science of persuasion to your selling. Beyond Captivate, Ben and Darren have over 20 years of combined sales and leadership experience at Google where they work with many of the largest advertisers and agencies in the country. 

Beyond his day to day work, Ben is very active in his community where he sits on the Board of Directors of the Daily Bread Food Bank and volunteers with multiple mentorship programs helping young professionals enter the world of tech and sales. Darren moonlights as a comedic storyteller, stretching his creativity and perspectives beyond the boundaries of his professional life. Darren was selected as an Emerging Leader in Advertising & Sales by The Peak in 2023.

If you are interested in connecting with Ben and Darren to learn more about Captivate or to book a speaking engagement, you can contact them on LinkedIn (BenDarren).

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