How to Influence People: Principles of Ethical Persuasion


6 Steps to More Influential Marketing

If you are having trouble getting people to say yes, you don’t need to change what you are proposing; you need to change how you present what you have to offer.

Robert Cialdini Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, summarizes the concept behind his “Principles of Persuasion.”

Principles that can change the way you think about marketing.

Influence is an art – the following six principles are the canvass to enhance your business, sales and marketing skills!

1. Principle of reciprocation. I’m obligated to give back to you what you first give to me.

This rule requires that one person try to repay what another person has provided. By obligating the recipient to an act of repayment in the future–the rule for reciprocation allows one individual to give something to another with the confidence that it is not being lost. This sense of future obligation according to the rule makes possible the development of various kinds of continuing relationships, transactions, and exchanges that are beneficial to society. Extended to marketing and sales, this is a very powerful principle that companies use all the time!

  • Free product samples…
  • Free test drives…
  • Free workouts…

…are all implemented to get the customer to try the product or service, but also so that we become indebted at a psychological level. Another key example is business relationships…if someone refers a customer to us or utilizes our services, then we will remember that particular person when we need their product or service or we will refer someone over to them that does.

2. Principle of scarcity. People want more of what they can get less of.

You have to convince prospects that your offer is unique and rare, and that they will lose something if they don’t take advantage of your offer. How does this tie-in to your marketing? Consider your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and how you can convince your prospects that they will be losing out if they choose not to purchase. This can include money, health, youth, looks, success etc. Or, next time you write a promotion, try placing a limit on your offer, “limited to the first 1,000 customers,” and watch your response skyrocket.

3. Principle of authority. People want to follow legitimate experts.

It is important to position yourself as an authority with the media, your clients and your target market. Getting media publicity on TV or in your newspaper, giving presentations or workshops and even distributing a monthly email newsletter with an article like this one are a few ways to show your expertise. Don’t be embarrassed because you think you sound boastful! As strange as it sounds, you could also mention a weakness in your position, which will establish you as both powerful and honest. Immediately after admitting a weakness is when you need to deliver your strongest argument.

4. Principle of commitment and consistency. People have a tendency to live up to what they write down.

Simply stated – obtain anything in writing that might result in additional sales. For example, if you convince someone that overexposure to the sun is bad, then it’s easier for them to agree they need your products, whether it’s sunscreen, sunless tanner or a baseball cap. After making a commitment, taking a stand or position, people are more willing to agree to requests that are consistent with their prior commitment. This principle also applies to terms and payment for products or services rendered; though this doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t get ripped-off, it does decrease the likelihood as it is physical proof you can take to court! To apply this principle to your marketing, add a money-back guarantee and/or warranty to show you stand behind your product/service.

5. Principle of consensus or social proof. People tend to follow others.

In the end, most people are followers. You might decide what you should do by looking at what others do in that situation. For example, you could decide to use a product or service that is strongly recommended by another business associate. This comes down to “Word of Mouth” and testimonials—provide those that are most similar to your prospects, and use clients who refer others to you as communicators for your services. Be sure to include testimonials on your company website, brochures, newsletters and any other marketing communication.

6. Principle of liking. People who like you will buy from you.

This last principle applied to business means that your prospects will buy from you if they admire and feel a bond with you. People want to do business with someone that they know likes them in return and that shows a genuine interest in helping them and their company. In one word, Relationships! Colleagues and associates will purchase products and services from those who go that extra mile to help their businesses. Those that are great at networking are often able to refer individuals to other business owners or influential individuals who can help grow their business. And like any great counselor, this involves listening more than talking!

Reciprocation, scarcity, authority, commitment, consensus and liking…all six are suggestions that will enhance your sales and marketing skills, build confidence and increase your chances for marketing success!