Growth Hacker

Internet marketing is my area of expertise. Past consulting clients include eBay, CafePress, DocuSign, myfab, and DeepDyve. Visit my consulting site at Market Extend.
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Understanding Influence to Boost Profits
March 20, 2008 Jamie Shiller Internet Marketing Gurus

Many folks marketing products or services online often times get so wrapped up in technology that they forget to focus on the fundamentals of sales. If you want to boost profits it’s essential to realize that the psychology of sales works in the digital world just like it does in the old fashioned one.

There are certain psychological triggers which greatly influence your odds of closing sales. The key is to use the triggers while building a relationship with your customers through regular communication where you provide more value than they expect. This requires that you have a good product in the first place and that you communicate to the desires of your customers.

The Internet marketing gurus employ these strategies to pull-off huge product launches which generate many millions of dollars within a 24 hour period. Whether launching a new product or trying to improve sales for an existing one, understanding the psychological triggers for influence will make you money.

Here are two exercises which will help immensely:

1. Read Influence by Robert Cialdini

Ciaildini’s material is the basis for many of the sales guides produced by the Internet marketing gurus. Why not just read their source material?

Cialdini defines six “weapons of influence”:

* Reciprocation – People tend to return a favor. Thus, the pervasiveness of free samples in marketing. In his conferences, he often uses the example of Ethiopia providing thousands of dollars in humanitarian aid to Mexico just after the 1985 earthquake, despite Ethiopia suffering from a crippling famine and civil war at the time. Ethiopia had been reciprocating for the diplomatic support Mexico provided when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1937.

* Commitment and Consistency – If people commit, verbally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they are more likely to honor that commitment. Even if the original incentive or motivation is removed after they have already agreed, they will continue to honor the agreement. For example, in car sales, suddenly raising the price at the last moment works because the buyer has already decided to buy.

* Social Proof – People will do things that they see other people are doing. For example, in one experiment, one or more confederates would look up into the sky; bystanders would then look up into the sky to see what they were seeing. At one point this experiment aborted, as so many people were looking up that they stopped traffic. See conformity, and the Asch conformity experiments.

* Authority – People will tend to obey authority figures, even if they are asked to perform objectionable acts. Cialdini cites incidents, such as the Milgram experiments in the early 1960s and the My Lai massacre.

* Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people that they like. Cialdini cites the marketing of Tupperware in what might now be called viral marketing. People were more likely to buy if they liked the person selling it to them. Some of the many biases favoring more attractive people are discussed. See physical attractiveness stereotype.

* Scarcity – Perceived scarcity will generate demand. For example, saying offers are available for a “limited time only” encourages sales.

From Wikipedia

2. Think of ways in which in which you can “delight” your customer

When people receive more value than they expect, they become fans of your product and company. As Cialdini describes, this will often make them want to return the favor. These are the folks that will tell their friends to buy your products and services. They will also buy more expensive products from you in the future. Once the customer opens their wallet once for your products, it’s easier for them to do it again. This follows Cialdini’s principle of Commitment and Consistency.

Be mindful of Cialdini’s weapons of influence as you craft your marketing messaging. Let me know your results.

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