This was super cool.
Kobe Bryant talked to the Wall Street Journal about how empathy helped him be a better basketball player. Wanted to share it because the lesson can help you in business, marketing, and your sales page.
(Btw if you haven’t heard Jay Abraham’s take on empathy and it’s importance in biz, listen to his talk on the strategy of preeminence. It’s fantastic.)
Here’s what he said:
“When you have empathy towards your teammates it helps you communicate better and helps you be a better leader. When you have empathy towards your opponents it helps you destroy them quicker.”
Now the cool part is how he used his understanding of his opponents to push their emotional hot buttons and destroy them from the inside.
Here’s what he said (I translate it out of basketball talk at the end):
“There would be certain teams that had a player that they just signed to a max contract. And then a supporting player who was up for free agency who they hadn’t signed yet.
So when we played them during the season, I’m saying, OK, here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to double-team the guy that hasn’t gotten a max contract yet. We’re not gonna let him get a shot off. And then we’re going to single-cover the guy that has the max contract, and then watch the guy that doesn’t have the max contract bitch and complain about not getting the ball all night long, and watch them divide each other. Those are the little, subtle things we would do that simply comes from observation and understanding your opponent.”
In short, if a team had 2 great players, he’d put more resources into defending the one who made less money. That way it’d spark jealousy and frustration which led to the other team fighting.
Here’s why I love this: He’s playing a deeper game than everyone else. It’s not just about who’s the fastest, most skilled, or even who drew up the best plays.
By deeply understanding his opponents, he found emotional hot buttons he can press to get the outcome he wanted. Similarly, when you deeply understand your audience, you can find hidden hot buttons others aren’t pressing because they never bothered to really understand their audience.
Now, how you use this power is up to you. If you want to make people feel bad and manipulate them into buying crap they don’t need, you can. But then you have to deal with the whole “being an awful person” thing.
Personally, I’d rather push the hot buttons that inspire hope, desire, and confidence. The ones that lead people to take action they know is good for them but have been holding back due to fear.
Of course, there are “negative emotions” that inspire action. Twisting the knife on their pain works. So how do you do it without making people feel bad and selling your soul?
Instead of telling people they should feel bad for what they’re experiencing, share how you (or one of your clients) felt when you experienced that same thing.
For example, let’s say you’re in the dating market. You want to agitate the problem of being alone without making people feel bad. What do you do?
Share a story of your own dating struggles. How it felt scrolling through Facebook after a crappy date only to find out the person you dated in high school is now happily married.
Then share the struggle that brought you to where you are today, offer something that’ll help them get those results faster, and voila. You pressed their “negative” hot buttons without being a jerk, inspired hope, and all because you deeply understood them and knew what story would resonate.
Throw a call to action at the end of that sucker and you got yourself a sales page 🙂