A while back I promised to tell you how to ramp up the power of commitments in a very simple manner. Here we go!

First, remember that verbal commitments are fine, but written commitments are stronger, and public commitments are much more powerful yet.

So, imagine yourself speaking to someone in their yard, promoting a backyard composting program. You have extolled the virtues of composting and removed some barriers they had to beginning backyard composting.

remember that verbal commitments are fine, but written commitments are stronger, and public commitments are much more powerful yet.

(You convinced them that proper composting does not result in either odours or rats showing up in their yards, the two most frequent misconceptions). And now, it is time to seal the deal by securing a commitment. So you say:

“Will you give backyard composting a try then?”

“Yes, I will,” is the reply, and congratulations, you have secured a Community-based Social Marketing commitment! But why stop there with this verbal commitment? You hand the person your clipboard and pen and say:

“That is great! We are keeping track of all of the people who agree to compost in their backyards, could you please add your name to our list,” and point to the next spot underneath a list of names that already appears there.

“Of course,” the person says, after all, they have just said they would do it, why not add their name to the list? When they do, you have just received a more powerful written commitment. And when they hand the clipboard back, you move in for the public commitment:

“Fantastic. In order to demonstrate to people that this is a composting community, we are gathering a large list of names of composting residents, and we are going to put the list of names in a newspaper ad and on our website. Can we list your name with the others?”

“Why sure.”

Bingo, you have acquired the most powerful commitment of them all, a public commitment.

This works! We used this exact approach very successfully in an East Coast community back in the mid 1990’s. And we are using it now in a West Coast community. Almost everyone goes from the verbal to the written to the public commitment without hesitation.

Try it in your programs and it will make a big difference in the number of people you get performing your behaviour. Guaranteed.

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One thought on “Getting from verbal to written to public commitments

  • July 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Ken: our paths cross again and we are on the same wavelength. I am currently attempting to resurrect the Master Composters program in the Region of Peel. I am beginning to speak with neighbourhood champions to have them re-engaged and share their knowledge and passion with others. I like the idea of listing their names in the newspaper and website as “the composting community”. Real grass roots I’d say!



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