What comprise seven essential engagement criteria,defining basic ways in which customer invest their time and consideration?


Rationalizing the impulse to engage and, later, to buy, entails the cognitive work of buyers.

Cognitive science reveals a tremendous variation of mindstyles among human beings, even within families and peer groups.

In this context, a mindstyle entails a preference and facility for one form of rationalization over all other forms.

The table below depicts the seven basic forms of rationalization—what John Garner, the leading scholar in the field—calls change levers.

Reason entails a preference for using facts and logic to rationalize a decision or reason to engage.

Research entails a preference for using scientific methods and quantitative data in making a decision.

Resonance entails a preference for using feelings or body- sense in validating a decision to act. Resonance may also include one’s sense of an individual’s good character.

Polymorphic explanations entail a preference for hearing and seeing the same argument expressed


in different forms and formats.

Polymorphic explanation tracks well with a rule of good presentations: “Tell them once. Tell them what you told them. Tell them again, and this time tell them why it’s especially important.”

Incentives entail a preference towards the promise of a reward, including frequent flyer miles and member points.

Real-world events entail a preference for using news or a personal experience of a shared event to rationalize a decision or reason to engage. This might include disruptive weather, economic trends, or a major entertainment or sports spectacle.

Resistance entails a preference for using a polarity or “away from” criteria to compel a decision to act. This may include invoking a tribal affiliation or personality flaw. In some cases, however, resistance can backfire.

In summary, the cognitive diversity among buyers and customers requires that engagement planners use all seven change levers or engagement criteria, creating multimodal content for use in a variety of engagement theaters.

7 Engagement Criteria

According to John Gardner in his book, Changing Minds, the systematic use of seven “change levers” depicted above can reduce the time, effort, and cost of persuading a customer to buy products or services, addressing the cognitive diversity of markets and, in particular, of tight-knit social groups.

Multi-modal engagement emphasizes the need to address the now prevalent division of cognitive labor in best-friend social pods; where each member will contribute a special cognitive skill (e.g., calculating data, harmonizing color and design, re-explaining an idea to others, etc.)

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