Heuristic Persuasion: Soft Selling
Heuristics are informal rules or shortcuts that are used to make everyday judgments, as we cannot afford to expend large amount of time and energy on every single detail or judgment in our life. Therefore, they act as “rules of thumb” or simplifying strategies to aid us in our reasonable guesses and judgments of events quickly.
Heuristic persuasion thus focuses on inducing attitude change or altering an individual’s evaluation of a target through the use of heuristics. Since we do not usually exert a lot of psychological resources to judge the validity of a persuasive message, unless it has significant importance to us, we often relies on superficial cues and heuristics to assume its validity. Because of this, soft selling has become a popular advertising strategy with some advertisers. It is an advertising strategy that relies on the use of images, emotions, symbols, or values to promote a product. A local example of the selling strategy can be found at the link below http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2TORg62sn8
This M1 advertisement promoting free IDD calls has attracted many viewers and was evaluated positively by many people, especially locals. The M1 TV ad presented a humorous gimmick that intended to make the audience feel good, arouse positive emotions from them and associate these feelings with their IDD service. Hopefully, the positive affect generated would influence their attitudes towards M1 services, and motivate them to subscribe to their service, which would definitely increase their sales and revenues. In a way, the soft selling method is a type of evaluative conditioning that brings about attitude change of the consumer through the use of heuristics. For example, people might walk pass a M1 retail shop or even having their morning roti prata at an Indian restaurant and suddenly be reminded of the TV ad, thus generating and associating positive feelings towards M1 services or products and changing their attitude towards them. Soft selling is commonly used through multimedia platforms such as the internet and TV.
Although, information-based persuasion can produce a more enduring attitude change in people, not all people would spend large amount of time evaluating on a product advertised during TV commercial. In addition, there is a restricted amount of time allocated for TV commercials and attention spans of the audience are also limited. Moreover, the repetition of advertisements during TV commercials also enhances chances of availability heuristics, which is the tendency to base a judgment on how easily relevant examples can be generated. Consequently, the more frequent the ad is shown, the more easily consumers are able to access them in their memory, thus promoting their chances of changing their attitude and purchasing the product advertised. Therefore, most TV commercial ads rely heavily on heuristic persuasions to capture the attention of the viewers as opposed to the traditional way of hard selling by bombarding consumers with information.