Persuasion - Content or Context?

August 24, 2020

Gene Weingarten's article, "Pearls Before Breakfast" in the Washington Post, won him the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2008. It is about the Washington Metro Experiment where a violinist wore jeans, T-shirt and a baseball cap and played six pieces of classical music for 43 minutes at the busy L-Enfant Plaza metro station. Only a handful of people out of 1097 people stopped briefly to listen and he collected $32. This violinist was none other than Joshua Bell, the Grammy-winning musician whose concert two days before was a sold out and the seats average $100. 

Lesson Point:

The violin pieces Joshua played were great pieces from Bach, Schubert and Massenet. The people were in a hurry at the metro station to get to work and did not pay attention to his performance. The person is the same, the music is the same, but the context is not. Joshua was not playing in a concert hall,  wearing the wrong clothes and was at the metro station at the wrong time during morning rush hour.  A company can have the best idea or product, but it will not grab attention if the context is ignored. Persuasion involves framing - putting the content into context to attract sales.


Recommended Reading:


Dr. CK Khoo is one the 14 Cialdini Method Certified Trainers in the world, endorsed by Dr. Robert Cialdini to conduct the Principles of Persuasion (POP) workshop.

His upcoming workshop will be on September 29-30, 2020. Website:

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