Politics, Teach tank

Think tank + teach tank = sea change

Why should the Left have a mortgage on talking to the heart?

The big problem with the Right is that they don’t understand the emotional power of a few short words and pictures.

Especially pictures.

They think the force of their logic should be enough to persuade people to make sensible decisions. Logic laid out in longwinded articles, speeches and press statements.

Maybe it should be. But clearly it isn’t.

Our long history of socialist governments making shortsighted decisions (both Labour and National) shows that.

I’ve made the above poster to show how a punchy pictorial message can trump the most elegantly-crafted 1000-word article on the same subject.

Imagine the effect of this in your daily paper. Which would grab more readers: the poster or the article?

No contest, right?

That’s because the mind processes in pictures. And over half of us are visual learners.

OK, so what does this suggest about the way the Right goes about its job of converting the convertible (as opposed to preaching to the converted)?

It suggests to me that it needs a retail arm to distill and showcase the excellent work of its many policy wholesalers.

(Think the Business Roundtable, the Centre for Independent Studies and the Centre for Resource Management Studies – all of whom, despite their diligence, reach only a tiny fraction of the population.)

What these think tanks need to get their messages out to the 99% of people beyond the beltway is a teach tank.  

A teach tank’s sole job would be to distill the essence of all that world class research into easily-digestible, posterised morsels that can be fed to the general public one bite at a time.

The bites could be ‘nutshell’ newspaper ads, or posters slapped on walls (again, why should the Lefties control the streets?), or emails – whatever works best for the subject of the day.

Each nutshell ad would contain one fascinating factoid. Just one.

As they roll out day after day, naturally-curious people would come to trust the brand for giving them new insights into the workings of the world.

I’ve spoken about the teach tank idea to a couple of Business Roundtable CEO Forums, some potential funders, and again last weekend at the Summersounds Symposium in Nelson.

In fact, the speech was rewarded with an audience-judged Be Upstanding Award, which was nice – but not as nice as some serious funding, which has so far proved elusive.

(The heavy hitters of the Right are not as free with the cheques as the Left may like to think.)

If you know anyone who’d be keen to support the teach tank, I’d be keen to make the ads.

If the Right wants to create a real political sea change, it must  harness the persuasive power of short words, simple pictures and emotion, and use it to tell the public what’s going on.

15 thoughts on “Think tank + teach tank = sea change

  1. Keep us posted!

    Will do Berend. Tell all your friends and see if we can find some serious funders. We need to attract a new generation of patriots prepared to put up the money to educate the public.

  2. A message which aims for the heart will almost always win over one which goes for the head.

    Your teach tank is a billiant concept.

    Thanks homepaddock. Spread the word.

  3. Good stuff.

    Another modern avenue to convey a message to the masses is via viral videos. Eg the Green Police ad series from Audi (although they were originally made for US TV spots including their SuperBowl ad).

    Viral is great, but we also need one-hit instant ads that people don’t have to go anywhere or click on anything to get.

    Remember: gaining new converts is about preaching to the convertible, not the converted. Most attempts reassure the converted and ignore the convertible.

    That’s why I like street media – gets new people where they are.

  4. Emotion opens the mind, logic the cheque book.

    Create the fear.

    I think it’s the other way round, Robert.

    Look at the emotion of religion – Islam, for example: not a lot of open minds there, but a lot of open cheque books. Ditto Christianity and the obscenely rich Vatican, or the contrast between church and poor in somewhere like Samoa.

    And Obamamania, where emotion trumped logic and opened more cheque books than in any other election ever.

  5. No point in the emotion and logic, if there is no call to action.
    so you have a good picture that captures attention, a reason for the picture, what the picture is about but no call to action.
    But the picture lacks any call to action.

    ” don’t buy bio fuels” or some such.

    That’s why it fails. IMHO and 20 years of selling.

    I agree in a way, Robert. The poster was hastily thrown together before I had to head away for the weekend.

    If it was part of a concerted campaign it should probably be anchored by a campaign theme.

    On the other hand, there’s also merit in just rolling out the facts without any accompanying ‘sell’.

    I think anyone seeing that poster would know what they needed to do without being lectured – especially if it was just one of many mutually reinforcing messages.

  6. Sorry but I don’t agree. Like asking the girl friend for sex and when she says yep sure , forgetting to ask her to take her knickers off and nothing happening. Failing to close the sale. Failure to complete!

    No punchline. No message, just feel good.

    Robert, I’d argue that once she said yep one of you would take care of the sartorial details, and no further selling would be needed :-).

    Remember that most (80%) of people act to stop a loss and most of the rest act to make a gain.
    So last election “most” voted National to stop Labour stealing anymore from them, 5% or so voted Act so that gains could be made by reducing Govt. expenditure and taxes.
    What do the Nats do when there. Act to stop losses.”we are not going to do anything that will lose us votes.”
    So what does Act have to say next time?

    ACT is a party of principle, so has no choice but to keep saying what it’s always said. But it could multiply its support if it focused on saying it a lot more clearly, simply, visually and emotively.

    Why do Labour survive? Because they command the language, or rather did. Not so good right now.
    What do Maharey and English have in common?
    Slimy speak. No definitive stake in the ground speak. Everything is changeable, negotiable and malleable.

    Maharey spoke pure gobbledygook. At least English can do succinct. But point taken. 2002 wasn’t exactly a high point for the Nats.

    What are Keys traits, gambler, and gamblers are usually con men, appeasement, look at his approach to things Maori, look at how his language has changed from definitive to appeasement since being elected.

    Key is all politics and no principle. He’s a brilliant politician, possibly unparalleled in our history. Certainly his poll ratings are.

    There is plenty to attack these guys with but it needs to be precise, targeted and not to many issues. There are plenty of voters out there who were looking for action and leadership. Have they got any? No, and who have the Nats mostly attacked this year. Property owners. 340000 private rental houses in NZ, Super schemes for most of those people including ourselves and each of those houses has at least one owner if not two or three or more and the Nats are attacking over 500,000 of their natural voters. Its a no brainer to attack them, (the Nats.) and the stupid wizards that have compiled report after report based on wrong assumptions and petty jealousy by members of the NZX club and fund managers that have broken their customers financial well being.
    But, it won’t work if as you have pointed out if the attack is in a long report. People like you and I read them but the average 80% doesn’t. That 80% needs pictures, short, sharp to the point and a call to change.
    Advertising in its most basic form.
    Question. Why do people read comics and cartoons?
    Easy, simple quick, easy to follow the plot etc etc.

    Yes. Some call that ‘dumbing down’. I call it ‘dumbing up’ – after all, what could be dumber than pumping out encyclopaedias full of big words that don’t reach the ordinary folk who make the difference?

    We’ve got to keep reminding ourselves to preach to the convertible, in the everyday words and pictures that the convertible use and enjoy.

    If you come to Tauranga give me a call.

    I will. Incidentally, I don’t read long reports and think most companies’ annual reports are part of a conspiracy to confuse. I’m with Mark McCormick, who said to an underling after binning the guy’s telephone-book-sized document, “Come back when you know what you’re talking about.”

  7. John,
    The teach tank is a great idea. Let me know if I can help.

    OK Jadis, will do. Know any rich patriots?

  8. I think the Teach Tank is a good idea. It needs a better title though.
    Before the last election I did a few weeks with Stephen Franks. My brief was to distil his 16 page intelligent and logical discourses into a few well chosen easily digestible sentences illustrated by a provocative graphic cartoon. This we disseminated as widely as possible and we seemed to have some success in getting people to take his views on board.
    As a film maker the old adage of ‘One Pic = 1,000 words’ is reinforced daily. I would be interested in being involved in your project.

    I’d love to see those cartoons, Keith. I could certainly do with a designer.

    The Teach Tank is just a working name for the concept, and the above poster is just a rough PowerPoint example to show the power of the picture.

    I’d be happy to delegate the visual side to a trusted visualiser, and a film component would be an unexpected bonus.

  9. I’m totally up for this. I’d like to be a part of it and will see who I know willing to finance it.

    Shall be in touch!

    Finance is golden, Rick. Do get in touch if you find some!

  10. I’d argue that once she said yep one of you would take care of the sartorial details, and no further selling would be needed 🙂 .

    Well not necessarily!
    Don’t be. Probably not the best illustration but all I could think of at the time.
    Its well understood in the sales process that failure to ask for the order is the most significant failure of most sales people. Its is responsible for nearly all lost sales. One must ask for the order and then shut up and wait for the response. The first person to speak loses. (very important that.)(lost a sale the other day because I didn’t pay attention)
    Now if an objection arises then that is a question to be answered and once it is then another attempt must be made to close the sale.
    The objection is a request for more information.
    Now with these pictures you gain the interest, you feed the emotions and then you need action. For those that think quick it will be fine but those that think? or ponder we need something else. (80%)
    So call to action, do something, particularly something that will continue their emotional interest and cause them to take the sort of action that should be asked for.
    Now questions asked should also have yes answers if we want yes results e.g.

    Picture; someone with a fist full of money.
    Do you want to be wealthier, have more cash in your pocket? (anyone going to say no, of course not)then vote for Act and Lower tax .
    Policy @ Act.org

    Picture:map of Auckland with school boundaries marked out. Mum & Dad looking on.
    Would you like to send your children to a school of your choice. (how many are going to say no/)
    Vote Act for education vouchers and choice.
    Policy at ACT.org

    6 or8 cartoons or pictures like that and flood everything with them so that everyone sees them a thousand times. Cheap as chips and highly effective.
    Make sure that the website is top notch and is easy to read, plenty of simple information and allows donations.
    Big letters and simple solutions.

    Of course these are positives. You could get to negatives and start attacking the socialists both left and right but I doubt that’s the right way. I personally think its Acts job to set the standard and not allow others to take the debate from them. Rodney does do this but by raising the profile it will mean that the others will have to come to ACT to attack and then they have to offer up the alternative. Provided Act have good answers, and usually Rodney does, then the position is one of integrity and is hard to attack.
    What needs to happen is for the the Nats and labour to be attacking each other and they will.( indeed could even be encouraged through the judicious use of a picture or two). Anyone who thinks Goff will roll over and be easy meat should think again. He is struggling currently but once he and Little get on top of the useless in their cacaus then things will be a lot tougher for the Nats. especially if they continue with their socialism and attacking their power base of property investors.
    I find it truly amazing that they would attack half a million of their own voters. Its political suicide and an opportunity for ACT to bring some principle to the legislation and capitalize on disaffected landlords (600 000 minimum.)
    A bit of this topic, but I see that the Treasury boss has again laid into the property investors, again with wrong information. Two things about that. Show me once in the last 40 years where treasury ever got any prediction right and he I suspect deliberately misrepresents the facts.
    Section 30 of the Residential Tenancies Act specifically rules out any landlord charging rates to their tenant. Depending on the local authority and its treatment of council expenses, that means that in some cases landlords pay tenants living
    costs, i.e. water and rubbish bills along with providing for the amenities and ambiance of the area in which the tenants live. Now some 35% of NZ residents are rental properties so landlords contribute a fair portion of their housing income to local Authorities via rates. Rates that have and are increasing at a not insignificant rate.
    This treasury boss fails to tell us that, when he attacks landlords for not paying sufficient taxes over so many years. If he would arrange to allow us to charge our tenants for their living privileges then landlords would automatically pay more tax and tenants might just change their voting behavior once they had to pay for money wasted rather than let the landlord carry the can.

    So a few clever pictures with messages all needing action appealing to emotions on the most important subjects. Cheap to make, cheap to distribute and put them everywhere. Raise consciousness.rapidly.

    I agree with more or less all of this, Robert. Some good ad ideas. Know any property developers who’d help to finance such a campaign?

    Very interesting insights from the property sector, too. Didn’t realise we had 600,000 landlords – wow, that’s a lot of grumpy voters.

    Disincentivising landlords wouldn’t augur that well for the tenants long term either, I imagine – like the classic argument against rent control.

  11. I’ve bin thinking about your description of Key. The last politician who paralleled him was M.J. Savage.
    Savage was described as a man who went to meetings where women were present , uttered the words “well now” and had all the women swoon over him. John Lee describes it often in his writings and is rightly critical as Savage had no substance at all. No great idea’s and stole what he did push through. He was also a pacifistic who emigrated here from Australia to escape conscription.

    So interesting comparison as the Nats consider at the present time that there swinging voter is the female voter. Family stuff and all that and they are almost certainly right.
    Act needs to steal their thunder by appealing to those voters as well as those disaffected by the lack of action and the stance taken by English that we just need to go slowly to where we want to be.
    By the time we reach that point the world will have moved on and we will still be locked in our mediocrity.
    Women friendly action policy that envelopes the family and the strength of those family issues.
    I have an issue here that is in line with this but I don’t wish to air it online.

  12. There are about 340,000 private rental houses in NZ. All have one owner, often two and many times more.
    Easy to see 600,000 voters there and this figure does not include those with commercial building who will also be hit. Many multiple owners there.
    And of course there is Maori multiple ownership. Haven’t studies that but no doubt they will get hot in their corporate building and trust properties.
    There are a bunch of critical ideas in my head. Not going to put them up here.

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