February 2015 Featured Article

6 Principles of Influence and Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini

Persuasion is sometimes considered an ugly word.

For some it creates images of getting people to do what you want, like a slimy used-car salesman. For others it means convincing people they need what you are selling.

But Dr. Robert Cialdini would tell you otherwise.

Born in Milwaukee in 1945, with a PhD in Social Psychology, Dr. Cialdini was fascinated by what influences people to make decisions. After a three-year study of what causes people to comply with requests in everyday settings, he wrote a book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” which has become the go-to book for anyone in business and marketing.

According to Dr. Cialdini, there are six “shortcuts” that guide human behavior. Using these in your marketing systems in an honest and ethical way, transforms selling from a torturous experience into something positive where everyone wins.

Today I will guide you through Dr. Cialdini's principles, offering advice on how to implement each. By trying out just one of these this week, you will see marked improvement in your marketing and your bottom line.

Give and Ye Shall Receive

The first principle is “Reciprocity”, or the feeling of obligation to give when you have received.

Think about how you feel when someone does something nice for you. You feel like you have to do something nice in return, right?

Well, it turns out that you can experience dramatic results from implementing this in your business model. And how you apply it can affect the results even more than you think.

For example, you might ask prospects for their name and e-mail address to get a free e-book that you created with useful information. Just in giving this, you have ignited the law of reciprocity. And it can get even better.

When you add something else to the offer, like a free audio recording, you can quadruple your chances of the prospect giving back.

And the most effective method? If you offer something for free, and then come back later with another free offer, like a special gift just for them, the results can double again!

So, think about what you can offer your prospects (or your customers) to keep them wanting to “give back” to you. By giving you their attention, and possibly even their money. You will be surprised at how loyal they will become by just doing a few nice gestures.

Wanting What We Can't Have

I am sure you have dealt with this situation in your personal life at some point. Whether you wanted something you know you can't have, or you wanted something someone else has, it's all too common.

In the business world, we refer to it as “Scarcity”, i.e. wanting things that are in limited supply. It is the second principle of influence, and one of the most powerful concepts you can include in your marketing.

You see, when people are shopping, they subconsciously don't want to miss out on anything that might be good for them. That's why Black Friday is so successful – there are time-sensitive sales that you “miss out on” if you don't shop on that day.

This method can be applied to your business in a number of ways:

Whether you offer a discounted price on an information product for a limited time, have a “cap” on the number of people that can enroll in a program you offer, or have tiered memberships for your website that give different privileges to each… you are promoting scarcity in your marketing.

And those chances of “missing out” cause people to act quickly. As it leverages one of the most powerful behavioral triggers there are, fear of loss.

But this goes even further – when you are doing your prospect research Getting to Know Your Prospect Inside and Out to find out what their hopes, needs, wants, frustrations, fears and problems are, you can use that information to create scarcity. In your sales materials, you can talk about what they stand to lose by not purchasing your product or service today.

This can be just as effective as building up benefits, and you'll see more sales as a result.

Follow the Leader

Who are you more likely to purchase a recipe book from? Martha Stewart or Carrie Underwood?

To be fair, Carrie seems like she might know some good down-home recipes, but the point is you would choose Martha because she is the consummate homemaker. Her recipes are tried and true and they are guaranteed to be great.

Influence Propaganda Represents Pressure Ascendancy And PersuasionShe is an “Authority”, a credible, knowledgeable expert, which is the third principle of influence. Authority generates followers, and it is a very easy and inexpensive, yet critical factor to establish in your expert business.

One of the easiest things you can do is get other authorities in your industry or fellow professionals to talk you up a bit, through endorsements. Have them mention your abilities, experience, knowledge, etc… and make sure you put that prominently where people can see it. Perhaps even have them create a video or audio clip, or have them post their recommendation on your LinkedIn page.

Talking about yourself is always awkward, and people are far more likely to believe your credentials when it comes from others.

Another great way to establish authority is to create valuable, free content in the form of blog posts and articles that people can read. When they start learning things they can easily implement and see results from, they will go to you more and more for advice.

Which causes them to become not only better customers, but advocates for your business.

Being Consistent

We are all creatures of habit.

Try as we may to vary things, we enjoy routine, and like to not stray too far from the norm.

This leads me to the fourth principle, “Consistency” – people consistently adhering to things that they have done.

Consistency can be a bit difficult to wrap your head around, but in terms of your business, the gist is this – if you ask your customers to do a small thing, they will be more likely to do a larger thing down the road.

A good example is asking them to purchase a very inexpensive book you wrote. Say, a guide to dealing with break-ups for $1.00 + shipping. They will be 400% more likely to make a bigger purchase the next time than people who you didn't ask to buy your $1.00 book.

So, when you want to sell that product for those dealing with heartache and poor relationships, those prospects will already be conditioned to purchase from you. And, acting in a consistent way, they are more likely to make that leap.

Just think about how much that could affect your sales!

We Like Those Who Like Us

I bet your best friend has said some very nice things to you during your friendship. Likewise, I bet at the last event you attended, you connected with someone who shares a lot of your opinions.

This is the foundation of the next principle: “Liking” – which is how we like people similar to us and those who not only agree with us, but cooperate with us, as well.

Although straightforward, I do want to point out something important about this factor – you should be crystal clear with your goals, morals, and viewpoints at all times. That's not to say you aren't ever allowed to change your mind, but always be transparent about who you are and what your values are.

By doing this, you will always attract people who think like you (and, admittedly, some who feel directly opposed to you, though that is another marketing opportunity to be discussed at another time), and they will be much easier to connect with.

And, as we have discussed before, connecting with your customers regularly is the best way to get big results in your business.

Doing What Others Do

Duck's familyLast, but not least, is one of our strongest desires of all.

We long to fit in. We want reassurance that our decisions are sound and that others we know would do the same as us. It is comforting.

And this leads to the final principle: “Consensus” – people looking at the actions, behaviors and comments of others to determine their own. In our modern Internet world, this has become known as “social proof.”

Yet again, this is a very simple concept that can be easily implemented in your business. And the best way is through testimonials.

By showing that other people have purchased something of yours, or used your techniques to achieve something, others are encouraged to do the same. They feel comforted with proof that the product or service “works” and that their purchase won't be a bad decision.

Putting it All Together

This is quite a bit to digest at once, so do not feel that you have to use all six principles right away. Take some time, think about what you'd like to try first, and work on them one at a time.

Then watch your business skyrocket.

Understanding these principles is the real foundation of getting what you want out of life. Regardless of the business you are in, you will always be dealing with people, so it's wise if you understand how they think.

P.S. If you really enjoy learning about what makes people tick, then I recommend not only reading Dr. Cialdini's book, but also a legendary book by Joe Sugarman (from Blue Blockers fame) called “Triggers” you will find it fascinating.