Any Marketeer worth their salt needs to be familiar with Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 6 Key Principles of Influence. Cialdini is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and in his 1984 book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he outlines key thoughts and ideas on how to use psychology when marketing.
Marketing expert and chief evangelist of Canva, Guy Kawasaki sums up Cialdini’s book perfectly, “This book is the de facto standard to learn the psychology of persuasion. If you don’t read it, I hope you enjoy pounding your head against the wall and throwing away marketing dollars.”
To get you started, here’s a short summary of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 6 Key Principles of Influence.
PRINCIPLE: People tend to feel indebted to those who do something for them or give them something for free.
We’ve talked about irresistible incentives you can give to grow your email list, well Cialdini explains the psychology behind that. He says, “The implication is you have to go first. Give something: give information, give free samples, give a positive experience to people and they will want to give you something in return.”
So think about what freebies or favours you can offer to your customers. Ideally, it should be something that’s unique to your business. More importantly, it should be something that your customer will value and appreciate. Once your customer has accepted your freebie, then you’ve got the advantage. Cialdini adds, “The obligation to receive reduces our ability to choose whom we wish to be indebted to and puts that power in the hands of others.”
PRINCIPLE: People tend to look to those around them to guide their likes and dislikes, their thoughts and actions.
Humans are social creatures, hey that’s why social media works so well in marketing. Telling people how popular your business is can work very in helping you to get more sales. List the testimonials and good reviews you’ve received on your website.
When people see a long queue outside a food stall, they will automatically assume the food there is good and they’ll end up joining the queue. That’s called herd mentality. Cialdini says, “We seem to assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something we don’t.”
Cialdini explains the psychology behind this. “Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.”
COMMITMENT AND CONSISTENCY
PRINCIPLE: People tend to be consistent in their words and actions – especially after they’ve committed to it.
Cialdini says, “People strive for consistency in their commitments”. So how does a Marketeer use this principle? The answer is simple. Get your customers to make small little affirmations to your brand. The more affirmations they make, the stronger their commitment will be.
Get them to like your Facebook page, to subscribe to your email newsletter, to Like your Facebook post, to take a photo with your product and post it to their social media timeline, hell give them a free T-shirt to wear! You want them to make as many affirmations as they can, as often as possible.
And that’s why the big brands are working so hard to build a tribe, a community. When you have a community, you have a strong core of people who are committed to your brand.
PRINCIPLE: People are more likely to agree to something if they feel a connection to the person making it or if they like the person.
The best manifestation of this principle can be seen from the large sums of money brands pay to celebrities for them to endorse their products. These brands want people to transfer their love for Cristiano Ronaldo to the clothes and the soccer boots that he endorses.
Or in more local terms, that’s why you’ve seen popular Korean celebrity Lee Min Ho advertising for beauty brand Innisfree. Social psychology has proven that we tend to like people who are good-looking. And that’ why these good-looking celebs are used to endorse products.
Another way this principle works is through compliments. Cialdini explains, “Apparently we have such an automatically positive reaction to compliments that we can fall victim to someone who uses them in an obvious attempt to win our favour.”
That’s why flattery works, plain and simple.
PRINCIPLE: People tend to believe figures of authority.
This is why Colgate tells you that their toothpaste is the one that most dentists recommend. They also state that Colgate Total carries the Singapore Dental Association Seal of acceptance. That’s authority. And that’s why they sell so many tubes of toothpaste!
In a world that’s filled with so many different opinions and viewpoints, we’ve come to learn that it is far easier for us to make decisions based on authority. We trust the Michelin food guide to tell us which are the best restaurants. And we trust bloggers to tell us which products to buy. As Cialdini explains, “Once we realise that obedience to authority is mostly rewarding, it is easy to allow ourselves the convenience of automatic obedience.”
In other words, we listen to figures of authority because it’s easier for us, and saves us time and effort.
So, in our marketing messages, we should try to present statements from figures of authority that will testify that our products and services are good.
Another consideration is that companies themselves can become trusted figures of authority. How do you do that? Putting out good content that your audience values. Cialdini teaches, “Content also builds on the principle of authority. You’ve demonstrated your expertise in this field, and so customers will rely on you in the future.”
PRINCIPLE: People tend to value things that are scarce.
This is the fundamental economic theory of supply and demand. When there’s less supply of an item, it immediately becomes more valuable. The more rare and uncommon an item is, the more people desire for it.
Look at the astronomical prices of rare comics, movie posters with errors, vintage cars, blue diamonds or artwork from painters that are now dead. These items are all valuable because they are rare and scarce.
Cialdini gave the example of how scarcity affected customer purchase of beef. “Compared to the customers who got only the standard sales appeal, those who were also told about the future scarcity of beef bought more than twice as much.”
In kiasu Singapore, this Cialdini psychological principle is even more apparent. “The feeling of being in competition for scarce resources has powerfully motivating properties.” He adds, “Our typical reaction to scarcity hinders our ability to think.”
In your marketing, make sure you let your customer know that your current product, promotion, giveaway program or price is limited time. You can limit the time, or you can also limit the quantity. This will help to make it much more desirable.
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