Principles of Persuasion… Are You Missing Vital Elements in Your Marketing Messages?

Have you thought about how your marketing messages appear to your audience?

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, has spent his entire career researching the science of influence.

He studied the strategies of sales professionals, charity workers, marketers, advertising professionals and recruitment consultants – to find out why potential customers whose initial response is often one of indifference, or who may even be locked in “no” mode, eventually move to a “yes”.

Dr Cialdini came up with 6 principles of persuasion that guide human behaviour – here’s a quick run-through:


Consider how you can adapt these principles and apply them to your marketing campaigns.

1. Reciprocity
People are more likely to help you if you help them first.
Can you add value by giving your audience tips on how to use your products? Can you offer a free trial? An unexpected gift? A useful white paper, a persuasive printable or a compelling visual guide?

2. Commitment (and Consistency)
Once we’ve made a commitment to something, we’re more likely to want to continue.
Can you encourage your audience to dip their toe in the waters with a little commitment? Is there something small but significant you can ask of your users? Why not suggest they register as a free limited user, or ‘like’ your page on Facebook; why not offer them the chance to sign up to an email newsletter?

3. Social Proof

We’re more likely to sign up if we know other people have done so.
Can you demonstrate your Facebook ‘likes’ or quote testimonials from happy customers on your website? Or make it easy for people to write reviews?

4. Liking

We’re more likely to be influenced by people we like.
Do your marketing messages speak directly to your audience? Are they likely to smile when they see your brand?
Consider segmenting your audience to allow for custom marketing messages and landing pages rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. If you’re trying to please everyone, you’re going to please no-one.

5. Authority
We trust the opinion of people in positions of credible authority.
Have you won any awards? Are you accredited by any well-known industry organisations or member of any respected professional associations? Try using these credentials on landing pages or in marketing messages.

6. Scarcity
We are more attracted to things when availability is limited, or when we fear we  may miss out on an outstanding or unique opportunity. Why not experiment with time limited offers or events, or display your stock levels?

With any of these principles, it’s important to act ethically.

If you persuade someone to sign up when you know they won’t benefit from your product or service, it may look good for that day’s results, but the effect on your brand will be dreadful… and you’ll need a few mugs of Horlicks to sleep at night!

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