How To Be Influential: Cialdini’s 6 Principles Of Influence And How They Apply To Marketing

Cialdini’s 6 Principles Of Influence

Dr. Robert Cialdini studied “influence professions” such as doctors, lawyers, teachers and police officers. More specifically he studied how they were trained to persuade and influence people. He discovered 6 universal principles of influence that applied to all professions.

The tactics people use to influence others are virtually infinite, but they all boil down to these six principles of influence.

What I found most interesting is that the better you know these principles, the better you can know how people use them on you!

I have put together a short video that outlines the 6 principles of influence:

1) Reciprocity
2) Commitment and Consistency
3) Consensus and Social Proof
4) Scarcity
5) Authority / Credibility
6) Liking

How to be an Influential Person and Marketer

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Here I’ve outlined some bullet points under each of the 6 principles:

1) Reciprocity

  • When someone gives to you, you want to give something back.

  • When someone invites you to a party, isn’t it hard not to invite them to your party?

  • When you take samples at a grocery store it’s very difficult to take them and walk away without listening to their pitch or at least hearing what they have to say.

  • It was shown that waiters and waitresses got higher tips the more mints they left with the bill.

  • The key to influence through reciprocity is for “the give” to be unexpected.

How does reciprocity relate to internet marketing?

  • Go out of your way to make your customers happy and it will pay returns later on, e.g. give away a really awesome ebook and reaps the benefits of all the social shares.

2) Commitment and Consistency

  • Deliver what you promised and fulfill your word.

  • Become someone who can be counted on.

  • When people were called to ask if they would vote, the percentage of people who said yes, turned out to be dramatically higher than those who were not called at all.

  • The key to influence through commitment and consistency is to get people to write down their promises and obligations.

How does commitment and consistency relate to inbound marketing?

  • Make sure that your audience can count on you for great content on a consistent basis.

3) Consensus and Social Proof

  • A study in hotels showed that a sign stating “30% of our guests recycle their towels” (the accompanying message was something to the effect of “do this because it’s good for the environment”).

  • They decided to test this and apply the principle of consensus and social proof by changing the wording to say “30% of people in this hotel recycle their towels.” When they changed the wording to say “30% of people in this room recycle their towels.” Rates went up even more dramatically.

  • The key to influence through consensus and social proof is that people are influenced by people who are similar to them, e.g. people who stayed in the same room, paid the same rate, same tastes in hotels, etc.

How does consensus and social proof related to social media marketing?

  • People are more likely to share a blog or social post that already has a couple of likes on it. So make sure you start it off with a few from your company, you’ll find that your fans will be more inclined to like and share your content.

4) Scarcity

  • Scarcity is more effective when you say supplies are running out vs. there are only 10 of these in the world.

  • The above example combines scarcity and consensus (scares because there are few left, and consensus because you’re showing that many people have already bought the product).

How does scarcity relate to e-commerce marketing?

  • Running a limited time special or saying you only have a few slots left is a great way to entice people to purchase your product or services.

5) Authority and Credibility

  • The way you dress can impact your authority and credibility. Would you ever wear a hoodie to court?

  • Doctors and lawyers have their degrees on the wall to appear more credible.

  • Warren Buffett’s holding company Berkshire Hathaway always starts out their annual report with something negative, something that didn’t go as planned. Then they launch into all their successes. They do this to establish trust and make them appear more credible.

  • Speaking slightly faster than usual can also help you appear more authoritative.

  • The key to authority and credibility is to not oversell yourself, but to take advantage of every positive angle you can.

How does authority and credibility relate to self-promotional marketing?

  • Don’t gloss over strategies that didn’t work, use them to gain trust and have your clients believe more in what is working for you.

  • Don’t be afraid to get nerdy and speak quickly (just make sure your audience is following along).

6) Liking

  • People want to do business with people they like and know.

  • This especially includes people who are similar to them.

  • The key to liking is to be genuine and ask questions of others. It always gives you something to come back to later on in the conversation / relationship.

How does this related to content marketing?

  • Ask questions on your blog and get to know your audience and your clients.

All of this is to say that persuasion is as much science, as it is an art!

Read more about Dr. Robert Cialdini.

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