How do you really persuade?
The psychology of persuasion has been exercised in all types of situations for centuries.
From the disciples in the Bible to prisoner of war camps to quasi religious cults to the science of selling and the marketplace.
And to Moore Street traders in Dublin.
Yes, Moore Street.
“Get the last of the red apples” (scarcity).
Since time immemorial there have been a number of fundamental principles of influence which have worked to persuade others of our point of view.
Influence-the Psychology of Persusaion
A thirty five year study based on clinical research and evidence by Dr. Robert Cialdini, an American professor of both marketing and psychology, identified seven principles of persuasion.
These seven principles applied in the area of small business work as well today as they have down through the centuries.
“Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion” is widely regarded as one of the most powerful and informative books about marketing written in the last 3 decades.
The 7 Principles of Persuasion
These principles are
- Self interest-the consumer or potential customer wants to get the maximum for the least cost.
This may appear self evident but it is easy to overlook it. Always answer the question of your potential customer or website visitor: “what’s in it for me?”.
- Consistency-we are greatly influenced by people and businesses who are consistent, not those who change their message or opinion at the drop of a hat.
We as humans have a strong desire to be and to appear to be consistent. This is why salespeople will always attempt to ask you a series of questions which elicit a “yes” response in the early stages of their pitch.
The key to the salesperson getting you on a path of his choosing is if he can get you to make a commitment at the outset; the desire to be consistent will take care of the rest.
This desire to be consistent often pushes us along a path that we know to be wrong but from which we’re unable to depart.
This has been recognised by prominent psychologists such as Newcomb and Fritz Heider.
- Reciprocation-this refers to the sense of obligation most people feel when somebody does something or gives them something for free. Because it creates a tremendous sense of obligation in the recipient to return the favour at some point.
- Social proof-we are hugely influenced by what others have bought and approve of.
This explains the enormous amounts of money that celebrities and sports stars can earn from endorsing products, services and businesses.
Much as we all hate canned laughter on many tv programmes, tv studios still employ canned laughter because it is simply effective and works.
- Authority-we are influenced by people and businesses in positions of authority.
“Follow an expert”-Virgil
We pay greater attention to so called experts, academics and people who can demonstrate authority than we might to the person working in our local supermarket, for example.
- Liking-liking is a tremendous and underrated source of influence.
You are infinitely more likely to be influenced by someone you like.
The Tupperware party is a good example of the power at work here and the hostess ends up selling a lot of stuff to her friends, not because here friends want Tupperware storage containers but because they like the hostess.
- Scarcity-the power of scarcity is clearly demonstrated at sales time in shops and stores or when great works of art are auctioned.
This same principle is a very powerful source of persuasion in any business regardless of whether you are selling your goods and services online or on the high street.
“Get the last of the bananas” works on Moore Street and Henry Street.
If it didn’t the street traders wouldn’t be shouting it for decades.
This cry relies on the power of scarcity to work.
Your business website or blog should have most or all of these fundamental principles of persuasion at work.
The absence of these principles when you take your business online is a common mistake.
Many small business owners think that doing business on the internet is somehow different.
Yes, it is different but not as different as you might think.
Because the internet is only the medium through which you transmit your message and offer-the fundamental principles of persuasion outlined above stay the same.
Do you use any or all of these principles in your business?
Which one have you found most effective?
You can check out Cialdini’s book on Amazon below: