Robert Cialdini & Principles of Persuasion

Hey, hey! Pubcon is off and running. Giving us a push this morning was Robert Cialdini, author of Influencer: Proven Science for Business Success. As marketing tactics continue to move more toward understanding human behavior and psychology, the information Robert presented on is absolutely the information we all need to be integrating into our marketing campaigns. During his hour-long talk, Robert talk about the Psychology of Persuasion aka the ability to move people in our direction without changing the merits of what we have to offer, only the way we’re presenting them. Robert gave us six principles of persuasion that we can take advantage of to increase our chances of success. 1. Reciprocation Basic manners obligate us to give back the behavior that has first been shown to use. If you get me a birthday present (June 28), then I am obliged to get you a birthday gift when yours comes around. If I do you a favor, you feel inclined to repay that and do me one, as well. Use this in your marketing. You may choose to send your customers birthday gifts, but give them something first. Maybe it’s a good deal or free information (bloggers, what!) or a small token of gratitude – give them something they weren’t expecting. Robert cites a study done by restaurants in NYC where they experimented with this idea. If the waiter presented a mint with the bill, tips increased 3.3 percent. If they offered two mints, tips went up 14.1 percent. Give something, get something. 2. Liking It’s not rocket science – people will say yes more often to people they know and like. To get a better reaction from folks you want to work to uncover similarities that exist between you and your audience. Robert said it was difficult to uncover information about your audience online so to instead focus on revealing information about YOURSELF that your audience will then relate to. Tell them who you are so they can see the similarities in themselves. I think that’s valuable advice, however, I’d argue it’s not that difficult to learn about your audience so you, too, can see the similarities that exist. Seth Godin said that marketing is telling your audience a story they want to hear – to do that, you need to know them. To back up his theory, Robert shares that negotiators were able to reduce situations of deadlocked conversations from 30 percent to 6 percent simply by exchanging information about themselves like interests, where they went to college, where they sat in their family structure, etc. As marketers we want to us this to get across features of who we are, not just professionally but personally. Do it in your About Us section. Share your top three driveway songs (the songs you listen to when you’re parked in your driveway and the car’s still running). This is what connects you to your audience. 3. Commitment/Consistency We want to be consistent with what we have already said or done, especially in public. Otherwise people say mean things about us and may call us a liar. Robert encourages marketers to find ways to get your audience to make a vocal commitment. As an example he mentions a restaurant that was able to drop reservation no-shows from 32 percent to 10 percent simply by changing messaging from “please call if you have to change your reservation” to asking “will you please call if you have to change or call your reservation?” By making someone say yes and make that public commitment, they are more likely to make good on it. Consequences of being uncertain in decisions… When your consumers are forced to make a decision they’re insecure about, they’ll do three things:

  1. Freezing: Reluctance to make a choice.
  2. Loss Aversion: Prefer choices designed to prevent losses over those designed to obtain gains
  3. Heuristic Choices: When choices are made, they are based on a single, relevant factor rather than the total set of relevant factors.

The next three persuasion techniques are designed specifically to combat these. 4. Scarcity We want what we can’t have. Those people who wait in line for days to get the new iPhone? The crazies who trample other people in Walmart around Christmas time. Scarcity is why. If you want to increase the attractiveness of what you’re offering without changing any of the features, make it seem scarce. As marketers, you have unique or uncommon features in what you offer. This is what you need to raise to the surface in the eyes of your market – what is it about your product or service that is unique? Very often it won’t be one thing. It will be a suite of things that in combination only you can offer. Present what you have to offer that is unique and dwindling in availability, because people listen differently to the merits of what you have to say. By isolating what you have to offer, you change the dynamic of the conversation. However, you can’t just tell people what they will gain if they move in your direction. People are more mobilized to act by the idea of losing those unique benefits and features than gaining them. Tell people honestly what they will miss if they fail to move in the direction that you are recommending. Use loss language. 5. Authority More stuff you already know – people defer to individuals who are experts on a topic, especially when they’re not sure themselves. As proof, Robert mentioned how Boise was able to increase sales by 60 percent simply by adding expert testimonials to product pages. Pointing to comments of legitimate authorities that align in your position produces a significant jump in your direction. Robert spent a good amount of time talking about the idea of The Credible Communicator. This is the person who has knowledge and trustworthiness. If you become a credible source of information not one of your competitors can beat you all other things equal. 6. Consensus When people are unsure, they look outside, not inside, for answers. One place they look is to authorities, the other place they look is peers – comparable others. Those around them who are like them. What have they done/said? If you can present information about a consensus for what it is you’re recommending from those around them and like them you reduce their uncertainty and get them off the fence and into the game. 98 percent of online purchasers read the reviews of prior customers. That’s kind of epic. The Consensus Principle is at the core of social media. Potential buyers are now able to access the consumers’ responses of friendship and peer groups. Those were the six principles broken out by Robert. Agree? Disagree?