After reading Robert B Cialdini’s Influence, you come to the conclusion that human decisions, although seemingly irrational from the outside, do follow certain behavioral patterns which can be learned and understood. Cialdini uses the term “click and whirr” throughout the book, meaning that if you get the right trigger out there, you will almost certainly get an automated response from your customer. Here’s the most useful tips and tricks from Cialdini’s Influence:
Cheeky trick #1: – Expensive first (let’s call this THE LAW OF THE RELATIVE!) BAM!
There’s a pain in any purchasing – (since the customer does give away his money… duh). Sushi restaurants are the worst where you add item after item and watch the bill go up and up. Taxi fares are similarly painful, watching the meter go up and up. Reducing this pain is a good way to boost your sales. (A package price is a better solution than having the customer add many items by himself).
Furthermore, when it comes to pricing products and services, context matters a lot. Key lesson: Show your most expensive items first, and then go down. If you start with a normally priced item and then show a much more expensive one, the latter will seem even more expensive. Similarly, the cheaper item will seem as much more of a bargain if shown after the more expensive alternatives. Starting with your cheaper items first is thus a big mistake. (Sometimes you might even design an expensive package, product or service that is only there to make the thing you really want to sell seem more like a bargain).
Part two of this Rule is that if you have gotten a customer to make an initial big purchase (like, say a car), you will have no trouble upselling that customer with smaller purchases (like a better car stereo, appliances, or any smaller item), because in relation to the big purchase, those smaller items will seem like a real steal. That’s why the original price of buying a car is just the start – a slick car salesman will make much more money after your big purchase using the law of the relative.
Part three of this rule is what is commonly known as the Foot in the door technique. If there’s a pain in purchasing, but you want the person browsing your store/webshop to buy, offer something small that greatly reduces the pain of purchasing (as the price is low). Why? Because now you turned this person into a customer. You might not have made much profit now but now they are in. And that’s a big difference. So just as you can design a product to make the other products look cheaper, you can do the opposite and design a cheap product whose only objective is to give you a “foot in the door”. (Kickstarter campaigns leverages this rule a lot with a multitude of different smaller products like t-shirts, thank you notes and what not for almost any campaign).
The idea is to induce a kind of irrationality in your customer, to create an environment inducing “panicky, feverish reactions” which can be achieved by restricting the availability of your products or using limited offers with strict time constraints. These techniques are currently used everywhere.
Cheeky trick 2: Social proof
“For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away”. Matthew 13:12
Who steps into an empty restaurant? This rule one is a no-brainer. We live in a noisy world (where we cannot process information in a rational way). Social proof is a shortcut we use when we don’t have enough information to take a good decision – then we look at the actions of others. (Adding a review section/mentions in media etc. is thus a fundamental aspect of your business/webshop). Just look at Tim Ferris landing page for his first book, the 4-hourworkweek, which is littered with social proof. Reviews, quotes, media mentions, and great links which takes us deeper; this landing page really great. Get social proof in any way possible and make it visible.
Cheeky trick 3: Reciprocation rule
“Give and it will be given to you in good measure”, Luke: 6
“It’s not a big mystery, you get what you give”, Tupac
When asking for something: give. Give a free guide, bonus points, a gift with a purchase. We are conditioned to respond to gifts, we feel obliged to return the favor. When I was walking around in Shanghai, an old monk came and gave me a prayer card. I thanked him and walked away, and all the onlookers started laughing. The monk ran up to me and explained, I had to give him a gift back (in other words: cough up the money baby, I just utilized the reciprocation rule on you). In Cialdini’s Influence, he mentions that the Hare Krishna movement is doing the exact same thing (forcing you to receive a flower, then asking for a donation).
Twitter is a great place to add value and give to people which might not make them feel obliged to buy from you directly, but will leverage parts of this reciprocation rule; if you give to someone (even though its just a tweet with some advice or whatever), they will feel positive towards you and more obliged to click the link once you post about your “LIMITED OFFER!”
Actionable advice: give as much as you can in any way possible. Zhe Internetz has enabled this to be done rather easily.
Cheeky and interesting trick 4: The consistency rule
People want to appear consistent, and trustworthy rather than fickle and uncertain. That is a key drive in people. Cialdini writes about how Chinese interrogators made captured American G.Is during the Korean war in the 1950’s tell on their friends and collaborate in a much greater extent than in other comparable situations, by leveraging this rule. They made the POW’s write down small statements about that Communism wasn’t all that bad, or that capitalism had its flaws. While this seemed innocent and quite reasonable, these statements became the first small step to actually changing the POW’s self-image to where they started viewing themselves as increasingly pro-communistic (to the extent to where they would later rat out friends who tried to flee the camp). The written word is very powerful in this regard. Once you get a customer or prospect to write something down like that they like your product or service, you can, in most cases, count on that the prospect wants to appear consistent with his own statements.
Get people to write down commitments – such statements can actually work to alter the person’s self image to where he/she wants to appear consistent with that image.
The more visible the statements, i.e the more people who view the statement, the more weight the consistency rule gets. Thus, many industries stress getting written statements down, and competitions like writing slogans for brands (although the bigger the price in i.e. a slogan competition, the less the customer feels like it was his genuine opinion and the rule becomes weakened). The key is to get the customer to write down a statement about your business using as little outside pressure or incentives as possible for the rule to work properly.
Last but not least- restrict availability
This is another no-brainer which I won’t diverge fully on. When our freedoms get restricted, our decisions get panicky – the sale ends tonight, only 3 tickets left, limited offer, etc. is leveraging our want for the things that seem to slip away. The product we cannot reach, or the product that is disappearing is the most attractive, not the other way around. (I recall attracting my wife in a similar manner). Restricted availability is a key piece in inducing panicky feverish buying decisions, which (although it might seem immoral), is what to aim for.
Recommended reading: Robert B Cialdini, Influence: The psychology of persuasion
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