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The woman with the Jay Leno chin

While I doubt it was their intent, the soap makers at Dove created something that perfectly illustrates the power of one of the best sales and marketing tools you can use.

It might be the best demonstration of that tool I’ve ever seen.

The experiment

The Dove “Real Beauty” experiment has three parts:

  • First, an experienced police artist draws a woman’s face based solely on her features, as she verbally describes them to the artist. He asks her about hair, eyes, chin, nose etc and she provides what she thinks the world sees in her own words.
  • Second, a stranger describes that same woman to the police artist and again, he draws her face based solely on the verbal description.
  • Third, the woman compares the portrait drawn from her verbal self-image to the one drawn based on the stranger’s description.

I suspect the results are obvious: The stranger thinks the woman is more attractive and/or less “flawed” than the woman views herself.

The reveal

When the woman compares the two portraits, they describe what each one looks like to them: Emotions, looks, age, features, mood, and so on. In each case, the woman sees a more attractive, happier, friendlier face in the portrait based on the stranger’s description. If you look at the drawings, you’ll likely see the same trend.

What I found interesting was that the stranger did a better job of providing details that resulted in a realistic portrait – whether that realism was flattering or not. You knew that drawing went with that woman while some of the original ones were a bit off the mark due to the woman’s self-described facial characteristics. Some of them clearly felt much worse about themselves than they really looked.

Obviously, the experiment has quite an impact on the women, but what does this have to do with your small business?

The experiment describes a situation that plays out in sales every day: the stranger’s drawing acts just like a powerful, believable testimonial.

A believable pitch

If you listen to the women describe themselves, you’ll hear one of them say something about her big chin. While she didn’t say it, it was hard not to wonder if she was thinking “I’m ugly, because I have a chin like Jay Leno.”  Later, the stranger says she has a nice normal chin and moves on without commenting further – and the stranger is right. The portrait’s chin matches hers.

When the women viewed their portrait based on the stranger’s description, it might have been their first chance in years to honestly see themselves through someone else’s eyes. You didn’t hear a single one say “Oh, that’s not what I look like. This is all wrong.” None of them appeared to need convincing that the drawings accurately portray how the world sees them.

They believed the story that the second drawing tells because it came from someone who had nothing to gain from describing it that way – just like a testimonial should.

Suddenly, they were the friendlier, more attractive, happier woman – and it was possible to believe it by hearing it from someone else.

What’s in a chin?

“I couldn’t use that system. It’s too hard to learn” sounds quite similar to “I’m ugly, because I have a chin like Jay Leno.”

For the woman who thinks she could be Jay’s chin sister, a single stranger’s unbiased view changes everything.

For the prospect worried that it’ll take months to learn a new system, a comment like “I expected it to take months to learn how to use their system, but I got started on my own in about 30 minutes. A few days later, I felt like an expert.”  has the same effect on a buyer that “She has a normal chin” has on a woman.

So how do you get the perfect testimonial for the person who is worried about learning to use what you sell?

Ask good questions

You’ve probably been asked a meaningless question like “Rate your buying experience from one to ten.”

It’s meaningless because numbers mean nothing except at the extremes. Even then, a ten doesn’t help others decide even if they share the same pre-purchase concerns.

The right answer to the right questions can help many make the right buying decision.

3 replies on “The woman with the Jay Leno chin”

I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now. This is, without a doubt, potentially the most life-changing (and therefore BEST) blog post you have ever made.

I have posted it on Facebook and will share it wherever possible.

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