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The Laws of Persuasion in Action

 by brian on 21 Feb 2012 |
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Robert Cialdini's Laws of Persuasion in Action.
Every business owner wants to know what their customers are thinking when looking at their store or products. Cialdini provides a nice summary of how customers think and what actions your business can take to react to these thoughts.


Your giving to me makes me really want to give back to you - I feel indebted to you, and quite franklu it creates a little discomfort. I owe you now and I want to even things. Call it "closed-loop" karma if you wish.
  • An unexpected "bonus" gift with your purchase.
  • A free trial, a free whitepaper, free newsletter.
  • Telling customers you've donated $15 to the charity of their choice before they've even completed the purchase.


People hate to miss out, sometimes even if it's something they don't like! We have an innate instinct to hoard - it's an evolution thing - and as a result we become extremely uncomfortable when we're made aware of opportunities that are limited in number or for a limited duration.
  • The closing window: "last chance", only one week left!" "Act now while supplies last!" "Here today gone tomorrow - don't delay".
  • "Limited edition" products; "collectors editions" - art prints, coins, stamps, Barbies, Star Wars figures.


We want to do nice things for people we like. We're also more likely to trust and listen to them.

So whome do we tend to like? 1) People we have lots in common with. 2) Poeple who love to tell us how great and good looking we are! (We can't get enough Praise)
  • Celebrity and athlete endoresments.
  • "our product is for smart, attractive people, just like YOU!"
  • Why car salespeople try to learn early on what you both have in common. The closer you feel to her, the more you like her and liable to trust her.


People wearing nice suits, Police officers, firefighters, Doctors. We become Zombies in the presence of such authority figures in their domains of expertise. "I'll do whatever you say..." <drool>
  • Power of "Opinion Leaders" - featuring consumer reports, positive review of your product, including and endorsement from Seth Godin on the back of your book.
  • Getting H&R Block to endorse your new tax software or Suze Orman to endorse your new no-load mutual fund.

Social Proof

They seem to nlike it, there must be something good about it. AKA, "The bandwagon effect", "Wisdom of the crowds".
  • Testimonials (especially from people like yourself)
  • Power of word-of-mouth, customer reviews
  • Long lines outside a night club (even though the club is often half empty)

Consistency / Commitment

My current actions must align with my prior actions and commitments. Contradictory behaviour makes me very uneasy.
  • "Foot-in-the-door" technique - getting someone to make small commitments to lead up to a much bigger commitment.
  • Getting user to register for free newsletter or become a "fan" on Facebook before offering user fee-based offerings.


We always evaluate our situation using some type type of reference point - whether we're evaluating the "goodness" of our incomes, spouses, children, education, etc.

Marketers and salespeople often engineer reference points for you within certain purchase settings. E.g. when you're buying a new car, the salesperson wants you to think bout the $1k "option" to install heated tush warmers relative to the $40k you're already spending on the car and not the 3% inerest you'd earn by instead putting the $1k into your savings account.
  • For only $19 you can get 6 more inches of legroom for your flight. The flight's already $450 - what's another $19 for 5 hours of comfort?
  • "How about this nice $200 tie to go with your new $2k suit? You're already spending $2k, why not spend a mere 10% more and make the suit perfect!"


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