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6 Principles of Persuasion - how you can influence people to buy!

I recently reacquainted myself with the work of Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Arizona State University. He has spent 30 years studying the ways people are influenced and has identified six key principles of persuasion.

Cialdini believes that most people can’t explain why they made a particular decision. But once you can understand the underlying factors your ability to influence decisions and get more positive responses can really have a large impact on the effectiveness of your sales and marketing activities. It also can have real value when coaching others.

The six principles are:

  1. Reciprocation: At a basic level when you do something for someone else they will feel indebted. For marketers, Cialdini says: “The implication is you have to go first. Give something...". There's a logic behind when in a restaurant you often will be given a chocolate or biscuit when presented with the bill - they are effectively prompting reciprocation at the point of the meal where tipping is encouraged!

  2. Social Proof: “Laugh tracks on comedy shows exist for this very reason,” Cialdini says. Whilst often annoying (especially if patently not funny!) they do impact viewers impression of what they are watching. A number of studies have shown this factor in play in social media. Sharing and liking products and services has a significant impact on purchase intention for both the 'liker' and their followers.

  3. Commitment & Consistency: People generally like to stay true to their word, or their actions. If we agree to a course of action or proposition - either in action or words - we're likely to follow through. For sales people getting potential customers to make a series of small "yeses" as part of the sales process leverages this principle so as to get the desired end outcome.

  4. Likability: There is no doubt that we prefer working with people we like and this can play a valuable role in a sales and marketing context. Cialdini's research indicates that in fact being physically attractive, or similar in some way to the person selling to you, impacts our decision process. The challenge for marketers is to how best to position and market products so they connect with their target audience's values and preferences - making what they sell attractive and connected is key.

  5. Authority. We all remember the ads with the faux laboratory. White coats on every actor! What the marketer is trying to do is ascribe some authority on their product. It may work (for some) but I think the authority needs to be genuine. The question is how best to utilise authority and legitimacy in the context of the product, and the proof points customers need to help them buy. In many markets generating real reviews and testimonials from legitimate, recognised authorities can help persuade prospects to respond or make purchases.

  6. Scarcity sells: "Only 10 left", " Offer end June 30". FOMO i.e. fear of missing out, has become even more prevalent since Cialdini undertook his seminal research. We appear to be wired to being more concerned about losing something (we didn't have) than gaining it. One way to create scarcity is to be genuinely unique - to have a point of difference. Click here to read more about the one question you need to be able to answer.
So when next crafting a marketing campaign or sales strategy think about how you can best apply some of Cialdini's principles to impact persuasion.

by James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

This article is linked to James' Google+ profile

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