InfluenceThis is certainly in my top 10 business books of all time, probably in my top 3. I have read it literally dozens of times and each time I pick up a great nugget.

Cialdini is a professor at Arizona state university and one of the world’s leading authorities on Social Influence.

The book is based on years of controlled psychological research conducted both by Cialdini and his students.

What is Influence?

Cialdini defines influence as being the study of persuasion, compliance and change. It’s all around us. Not just in marketing messages but in social interaction in general. Smart marketers who understand how to use influence can greatly improve the effectiveness of their marketing.

If you can use one or a combination or more than one of them, chances are your marketing will be more effective.

Think about the time you may have subscribed to something you really didn’t want or need? Or how about taking part in some consumer survey when really you didn’t have the time or inclination? There are all real-life case studies of how we are influenced.

What Are The Main Components Of Influence?

Cialdini breaks down Influence into 6 main categories:-

Reciprocity – this is where we feel obliged to do something in return for someone else doing something for us. Prime examples of this are if someone gives us something free of charge we are quite literally “hard-wired” to want to give them some sort of pay-back for their generosity (wanted or unwanted). This is why giving away great content during a product launch works so well. People will feel somewhat obliged to return the favour when you request it (i.e. buy your stuff). There are some great real life case studies and examples used in the book from observations of movements such as the Hari Krishna movement, Boy Scouts & Youth Programmes.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE – Why not give your readers a FREE report/video? A great way to find out what they really want to know and learn is by surveying them.
Commitment & Consistency – this is where once people have committed to make a decision (good or bad) as humans we like to be consistent to what we have already done. We seem to convince ourselves we have made the right choice even if we may be wrong. A great example in the book is with children’s toys at Xmas. Toy manufacturers will promote heavily something in the run up to Xmas. Children will tell their parents they want the gift and the parents “commit” to getting it. Great examples of this were things like the Cabbage Patch Dolls where the marketing hype turned into a buying frenzy.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE – Get people to take some form of action. Ask them to comment on your page or ask questions so they feel part of the process and more committed.

Social Proof – This is an easy one to explain and demonstrate. People like to “follow the herd” in general. So if you have tons of testimonials then this is a great example of social proof. Examples of it in places such as “Canned” laughter for TV shows or why the collection plate in church is often “rigged” at the start of a collection with fake donations to increase the likelihood the congregation put their hands deep in their pockets too.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE – Only use “True” social proof. Get testimonials from your best clients. Get them to interact on your Social Media platforms.

Liking – This is simple and quite an obvious one I think. People generally buy off people they know, like and trust. Great examples of this are companies such as Tupperware and Avon who sell to friends and family. I’m sure we have all succumbed to this one at one time or another! It also true to note that people like people who are like them as well as increased familiarity builds “Likeability”.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE – Best the “REAL” YOU – (warts and all!) People don’t mind the odd mistake – it makes you more human. Be like them. Try to understand your target audiences wants, dreams, fears and desires. The better you know this the more money you will make.

Authority – People generally “look up to” people in authority. This can be teachers, Doctors, Lawyers, The Police and in most cases we are more likely to believe what they say because we “trust” what they stand for. There are some notable case studies including people who thought someone was a professor actually seemed taller than the same person if they thought they were a student!

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE – I love doing white-board videos. Think about the association…..If you are teaching then by definition you are the teacher and an expert. Another great way to create authority is to write a book. Nothing beats the credibility of being a published author even though it might never be a best seller. Use your book as your business card. You’ll be surprised how effective it becomes.

Scarcity – This is an old favourite with marketing pros. People hate to miss out on things (almost ties into the social proof angle discussed earlier.) Successful marketers use scarcity all the time. We have all been exposed to “Limited Time Offers”, “Sale Ending…” type marketing messages. They work like gangbusters.

REAL LIFE EXAMPLE -Scarcity is probably the easiest and most effective method of influence I have found. Use things like date scarcity, bonus deadlines, offer deadlines etc. in all your marketing.

So there you have it – 6 time tested strategies you can apply right now to your marketing. To get the best results try mixing more than Influence strategy such as scarcity, social proof and reciprocity in your marketing. All the gurus do it…..can you see how they did it??