this way, that wayThere is a theory* that says some people prefer options while others prefer procedures.

“People with an options pattern in a given context are motivated by opportunities and possibilities to do something in a different way… People with a procedures pattern like to follow set ways.”

Commonsense tells us this must be true.

On one course I ran, I presented the class with a range of choices to achieve a certain goal. One delegate demanded to be told which was right for him. It was impossible for me to know what to recommend, because I didn’t know enough about his business and the answer depended on exactly what he was trying to achieve. But he insisted: “I’ve come on this course to learn and I want to know which thing is best for me”. In the end, I just said: “You need this one,” and he said: “OK then,” and went away happy.

After delivering a presentation, I distributed a handout that included 12 objectives (Why) with three or four choices each (How). Perhaps I shouldn’t have done that – perhaps I should have told the audience to pay me for bespoke advice instead! Anyway, all members of the audience were happy, because the handouts deliberately suited both options and procedures styles.

In her book Words that Change Minds Shelle Rose Charvet describes how to tell whether you are talking to an options or a procedures person. This enables you to communicate with them in their preferred style so you are most likely to achieve the results you want.

For example, ask someone: “Why did you choose your present job?” and listen carefully to their reply. You are not listening for the detail of what they say, but for how they say it. An options person will give you a list of reasons while a procedures person will tell a story or describe a series of events. Some people will do a mix of both.

Why you need to know this

When writing marketing copy, you need to provide choices for the options people, such as gold, silver and bronze service levels or high, medium and low product price points. For procedures people, you need to provide steps that explain how to choose and buy from you.

For more help with your marketing copy, contact me.

*LAB profile

photo credit: Lori Greig via photopin cc

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