This morning I was making a few notes on Robert Ciadini's book 'Influence' for my book club tonight.

I thought it would be a good idea to share some of the things I've learned on here as it could help you to improve your marketing and selling.

There's some incredibly powerful ideas which show you how big brands and often those around us, use to influence our decisions.

Cialdini gives detailed descriptions of six scientifically proven 'triggers' that can be used to persuade and manipulate. I've briefly described 3 of them below:


1. Reciprocity

We're hard-wired to return favours. It probably goes back to our tribal roots. When somebody brought home a big 'kill' they would normally share it with the hunters who had been unsuccessful.

This meant that on the days when they themselves came back empty-handed, it would be likely that somebody would recall the favour, and share their food with them.

This is the reason why companies will give away free gifts or samples.

Think about this situation in a supermarket:

They often have a worker giving away free samples of some meat or cheese item.

There's no obligation to buy. It's a free sample after all.

But once you take the sample, you're far more likely to listen to what the person handing it to you has to say.

Had they just stood trying to sell you the product without samples, it would be much easier to walk past them and say 'sorry, I'm busy'.

But when they give you something, it would be rude to not listen, wouldn't it?

 

2. Commitment and Consistency

This one 'stacks' super well with number 1.

The next time you are being sold to... Watch out for this.

At the very start of the conversation, the person selling may ask your permission for something, such as 'Is it ok if I leave you here for a moment, I just need to let the manager know I'm in a consultation'... Or something like that... You of course say 'yes'.

In the example above this has two benefits.

  • The salesperson has positioned themselves as serving you. Your status is elevated and it may cause you to lower your guard.
  • You have said 'yes' to them once now. The next time they want you to say 'yes' it will be a little bit easier for you... And you won't know why.

 

3. Scarcity

We desire more that which we can have less of.

You could say this goes back to the Garden of Eden story and the forbidden fruit.

Wanting what you can't have is a fundamental human desire.

This can be seen used extremely well with high-end products.

A limited supply is made available initially to increase not only the economic value of the product, but the social value too.

People who obtain it have their status raised by association with the product.

If you can make a person feel like they will be upgraded by using your product, it's a very difficult temptation to deny.

Another way that the 'scarcity' trigger can be used is in fine dining restaurants.

The servings are ultra small, with an often minuscule amount of the main ingredient.

This makes every mouthful of it precious... And it could be argued, it even makes it taste better.


In summary, this book has some amazing ideas that can be used to vastly improve the effectiveness of your marketing.

All the way through he stresses how they should only be used for good.

But humans being humans, that was never going to happen.

The real value I took from this is to see how brands and other people try to influence us every day.

You begin to see humans in a different light when you begin to understand the psychology of persuasion.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.