What You’ll Learn:
- Why is”Validation” important, and why it is it an essential act.
- How Validation creates solid relationships and creates the foundation for trust.
- The 5 validations
- What Validation is not, and how it’s applied in the digital context.
- Lifestyle categories: Fun, Profit, Impact
Validation Sets the Foundation of Trust and Impact
Validation is the logical follow-on action after Familiarity. Why? Simple: Once you have successfully provided content and/or experiences that are familiar and relevant to the prospect, you have the beginnings of a relationship. Validation deepens the connection with the prospect and moves that relationship forward.
Validation is recognizing the prospect, customer or client as having value. In a sense, it’s meeting them where they are and acknowledging their situation. You “validate” their importance and significance as a person. You make a connection with them at a fundamental level of need. In the process of authentic validation, you sow the seeds of trust.
Ultimately, you are driving the prospect to a decision. When they make that decision, whatever it may be, you want it to be a decision made with conviction. Only by making a decision to buy your product, join your cause or team, or engage in some meaningful and significant manner can they receive the value and realize the positive impact in their lives. But before you get there, you want to establish a relationship rooted in authenticity, sincerity, and empathy. Being human in a digital world takes deliberate effort and focused intent.
Validation is Direct Acknowledgment of Their Reality
Your prospects, customers or clients are human, and they have a reality, perceived or otherwise. That reality resides in their mind: they live it daily and mostly passively and subconsciously.
Validation works with confirmation bias. The reality is, your prospects have values, beliefs, and feelings, and those combine to bias their reception of information.
They live with joy, hope, fear, anticipation, and a host of other emotions and feelings. Those feelings catalyze their thoughts and actions, and that creates their unique reality. Everyone is different, yet everyone is the same in their fundamental needs.
One of the fundamental needs is to connect with others. “Connecting,” among other things, is finding empathy, support, and understanding in another. Validation is a form of connection.
Validation is not disingenuous flattery with the intent of gain – people will see right through that, and you will lose whatever credibility you might have hoped to have. It is a direct and authentic sentiment communicated in a very simple manner.
Validation has a lot of different definitions, depending on the context. Google “validation” and you’ll find this definition:
“To validate is to prove that something is based on truth or fact, or is acceptable. It can also mean to make something, like a contract, legal.” … “Whatever it is you are seeking to validate needs the added support or action from someone else to make it valid.”
Certainty is another need that is supported by validation. We all live with uncertainty in our lives because we live in a world of uncertainty. Whatever “familiarity” you have resonated within the mind of the prospect very likely has some degree of uncertainty as well. In a simple sense, validation is saying: “I understand your fear, your uncertainty, and it’s ok. We’ll work together to turn uncertainty to certainty.” When you can establish that degree of validation, you have the foundation of a relationship.
However, since what is being described here is in the context of the digital world, the definition, and act of validation, is a be a bit different.
Validation Defined in the Digital Context
Relationship Relevant Marketing is predicated on the idea that in a digital world people desire and indeed demand relevance and value in relationships.
Definition: Validation in the digital context: The positive correlation of digitally-delivered information, such as content or experiences, with the conscious and subconscious emotional priorities of the individual.
This definition captures two very important concepts: “… positive correlation …” and “… emotional priorities…”
A positive correlation is when the information affirms their beliefs, values, needs, wants, … and so forth. This gets their “positive” attention. This type of information is what gets their attention and allows you to stay in the experience funnel.
Conversely, a negative correlation is when the information contradicts their values, beliefs, and so forth. It mostly creates negative emotions. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does not “validate” them in a constructive manner. Intentionally putting negative correlating information in front of people is risky, but there are times when it is effective. One such time is when you are trying to differentiate yourself from a crowded field of competition. A negative correlation is often the “shock and awe” approach that gets their attention. The risk with this approach is that you may have only one chance to engage your prospect, and if your negative correlation approach fails, you’re gone!
Emotional priorities are those feelings and thoughts that are most emotionally significant and charged. It is for this reason, information that correlates with emotional priorities gets noticed first. This is also why a positive correlation is far more effective than a negative correlation.
If there is one thing to take away from this definition, it is this: seek to positively affirm that which you believe to be the most significant emotional priorities, and establish hope and anticipation along the way.
The 5 Validations
Validation is not a complicated process. In the context of the digital psychology of decisions, there are 5 forms to consider when designing and delivering online content and experiences.
- Validation of their current state of life: wants, needs, desires, fears, joys, beliefs, values …
- Validation of their value as a person
- Validation of the possibilities available to them (aka, hope)
- Validation of their “worldview,” which is largely cultural or ideological
- Validation of the value of you and your “product” as a path from where they are to where they want to be
Going into detail on each of these five validations is beyond the scope of this article, but if you take a close look at them you’ll undoubtedly understand the differences and the means by which you can apply each of these to your content or experiences.
The key is to understand that the process of validation can be focused or diffuse. It depends on the nature of the marketplace and Avatar representatives you are working with. You have to design your content plan first, and that will reveal your validation strategy. Validations 1,2,3, and 5 generally go together. Validation 4 should be reserved when your mission is related to cultural or ideological purposes.
Implementing Validation in Your Content Strategy
Here are six steps to implementing validation in your content or experience strategy.
Step 1: Validate their reality. A clear Avatar definition is where you start. Your ideal prospect has values, beliefs, wants, needs, desires, and so forth. If you align with those, you validate their reality, You don’t want to do it all at once. Create a flow of content that repeatedly validates their reality, and is so doing you will create a positive correlation with them.
Step 2: Validate their dream. Everyone has a dream of a life different than they are living. Even if they believe they are living the “dream life,” they look beyond that life to more abundance in one or more areas of their life. There are common dreams, many of which are associated in one way or another with the 6 Basic Human Needs. Speak to the possibility and indeed inevitability of attaining that dream, because it leads to the next step!
Step 3: Reveal the process. The process is the series of decisions and actions the prospect must take in order to attain the dream. It is the change that must take place in order to move them from where they are now to where they want to be. Teaching, or revealing, the process in a deliberate, engaging, and congruent manner will create anticipation and engage their Reticular Activation System (RAS). They will begin to believe their dream is within their grasp.
Step 4: Affirm their confidence. This is where you move them from possibility to certainty, or at the very least near certainty. In this step, you create content or experiences that highlight the benefits of having the dream a reality in their life. You make the results as real as you can. You integrate “you” into this step as the facilitator who can help them attain their dream. Make sure and look beyond the benefits to the benefits of the benefits. For example, the benefit of losing weight may be you can fit into that dress or pair of pants, and this makes you feel good about yourself. The benefit of the benefit is the affirming reaction you get from others when they notice. The “benefit of the benefit” is very often more important and engaging than the benefit itself!
Make sure and look beyond the benefits to the benefits of the benefits. For example, the benefit of losing weight may be you can fit into that dress or pair of pants, and this makes you feel good about yourself. The benefit of the benefit is the affirming reaction you get from others when they notice. The “benefit of the benefit” is very often more important and engaging than the benefit itself!
Step 5: The journey to the results. This is where you actually combine the prior 4 steps to create a journey to the future that is their life having reached their goals, attained their dreams, and achieved the result they sought. The journey affirms the process and makes it real to them. It shows that inevitability is merely the result of executing the process you recommend: inclusive, of course, of whatever product you are offering.
Step 6: Back from the future. They’ve arrived. They’re successful. The dream is a reality, and they are living large and free! Now, paint that picture for them and then look back from where they are in this new reality to where they were: which is, in fact, their current reality. Contrast the two states and show how their decision to engage and implement the process has created a life of their dreams. This step seeks to validate your value and the value of your product as well as validating their decision process.
Video | Validation in the Digital Psychology of Engagement and Buying Decisions
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Remember: Don’t put probabilities on your possibilities. Dream big, believe in yourself, take bold action, and achieve!
Hoping the best for and believing in you …
Oh, and one more thing …
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