Robert Cialdini wrote a book called the ‘Influence’ which sold millions of copies. He introduced an idea in his book called psychological weapons of influence. The concept is based on human psychology and how to use it for our own benefit (and yes for the greater good as well).
In this blog post I want to give you a short recap of the 6 weapons of influence. Remember that these ways are so powerful that we are often tempted to use it unethically. That’s why they are called weapons.
You can use it in marketing and also know when someone is using it on you. These tools are so powerful that even if you recognise that someone is using it on you, you will still be inclined towards it.
I remember the 6 tools as S.S.CARL – Social proof, scarcity, commitment & consistency, authority, reciprocity and liking.
1. Social Proof
People get influenced when they see other people doing something. The human mind is programmed in such a way that we automatically follow what the majority does. This was originally developed for the survival capability of man. If everyone around you starts running, you will start to run even before you think about it.
If a group of people are looking up you are certain to look up when you pass that way. Social proof can be used ethically in a variety of professional and personal situations. It is heavily being using in marketing.
If you are selling a product or service, you can gather great customer testimonials and show it to prospective clients. When you are promoting yourself, talk about your accomplishments and recommendations. I hope you get the idea.
We always want something when it is in scarce supply. This is a basic human instinct which was designed for survival. If there is limited food you should grab it else you may die within a few days (in pre-historic times).
When selling something, let the prospective customer know that you have limited supply. This is the principle behind limited edition product launches. When people feel something is limited, they automatically want to have it.
Some people lie about having limited stock. It would increase sales conversions temporarily but destroys long term trust.
Urgency is also a part of scarcity. Limited time discounts are not very different. If you are asked to make a decision with a day or else the price will go up tomorrow – you are more likely to decide to buy something in the fear of losing out on a great offer.
People always want to be consistent in the behaviour. They do not like to keep changing their minds because it reflects poorly on them. Every person wants to be unique and everyone is stubborn.
This is the principle behind selling stuff at low cost or at a discount first to get the customer to use the product. While buying he convinces himself that the product is good. When presented with a higher priced offer he is more likely to buy because he wants to be consistent in his behaviour. Sales funnels came into being because of this principle.
People always listen to authority. If your doctor says you need to start exercising everyday you are more likely to follow his advice than if your friend says the same. Because you believe the doctor is more qualified to give you advice.
If you are selling something, you can improve conversions by increasing your authority. Pre-eminence is very important to sell something in todays competitive marketplace. People should know you are the market leader – an authority in a certain niche and then they will be happy to hand over their money to solve their needs, wants and problems.
You feel obliged to return a favour when someone does a favour for you. This is the principle behind free samples. When you receive a free sample from someone, you are obliged to return the favour by buying the product.
This also applies in customer specific discounts. When a sales guy gives you an exclusive discount just for you, you feel obliged to return that favour by buying the product.
Give and take and take.
People get influenced when they like someone. People like people when they have a common ground. You are more likely to buy from a salesman who went to the same school as you than someone who has nothing common with you.
You are more likely to get influenced by people who share something in common with you. Be it interests, hobbies, education, home town, children in the same class or whatever.
When you are selling something, look for common ground between you and the target you are trying to influence. And don’t lie!
I hope you got a good idea about the 6 ‘weapons’ of influence. If you are interested in knowing more about ‘influence’ read the following book: