After several forgettable interviews this is the one! It went like a dream; all killer, no filler.  You have 12,000 words, 45 pages of glorious content; gushing endorsement and metrics to make the most hardened CFO reach for her chequebook.

In fact, there is so much compelling customer evidence and so many brilliant proof points it matters not if the video is 8 minutes, or the written story 8 pages long. It’s dynamite! No way this is going to be red-penned or end up on the cutting-room-floor; it is just too good.

But is it? According to a body of research conducted by by Dr Niro Sivanathan – Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the London Business School (LBS), in the world of communicating for the purpose of influencing, quality trumps quantity.

And that’s because: we don’t add, we average

This research shows that in fact, by increasing the number of proof-points, you do not strengthen your case, but rather you actively weaken it. Increasing the number of arguments decreases the very effectiveness of the argument, because we don’t add proof points, we average them.

Stick to the strong

If you think that you are building a compelling case by piling on every decent soundbite, think again. Just one slightly weaker point devalues ALL points; more really can mean less. As well as with positive comments, the LBS research shows the same thing is true for negative points. We’ve all seen this with side-effects linked to medicines; throw a few less serious ones into a list of potentially-fatal ones and all appear to be less-serious.

Speed to sound bite

There’s a lot of dialogue about the ideal length of customer stories vs. their effectiveness. It’s said there is no such thing as over-long content, just boring content. Whether or not we believe content needs to be long or short, this cognitive bias is going to play a part in how impactful our stories ultimately are.

The red pen and the razor blade

In the digital realm we no longer use physical red pens or razor blades to cut content, yet in a world where a typical video story might comprise 300 words, or a written story 700, it’s now clear that becoming a brutal editor (and perhaps creating multiple cuts of a story) is both a good thing and a major weapon in any advocate marketer’s arsenal.