Harness the 6 Principles of Persuasion


They may be almost 20 years old but the 6 Psychological principles of persuasion, created by influence and persuasion expert Professor Robert Cialdini, are powerful, scientifically-supported factors that influence decision making, including the consumer choices of your customers. Here, we outline each factor and how you can apply them in order to benefit your business.


The logic of reciprocity is, essentially, when people are given something by another, they feel indebted to that person. To restore the equality, they are highly likely to give something back. By giving your customers and potential customers valuable freebies, for example product samples, 1 month free trials, resources, guides and so on, you can persuade them to give you something even bigger in return. Like their credit card details.


People have an inherent need to be seen as consistent with their actions and self-image, therefore if they make a small commitment they will be more likely to follow it up in the future. This principle can be utilised with your email communications; if a customer enters their email address to gain access to a free resource or enters a competition, they will be more likely to see themselves as a customer and go on to make a purchase. Ever wondered why Nando’s is so popular? A great loyalty scheme can be an effective way to initiate commitment.

Social Proof

As much as some individuals may attest that they are not a ‘sheep’, the truth is we are always looking to others for guidance on what decisions to make and what actions to take, even online. Incorporating social media plug-ins onto your website and encouraging customers to share, ‘like’ and tweet about you will persuade others that your business is worthy of their attention too. The same logic can be applied to your feedback. If you have glowing testimonials, use them!


It may seem common sense but people will respond more favourably to people that they like and make them feel good. With regards to your customer service, a polite and friendly approach (even with those tricky customers) is imperative. Remember to thank them, compliment them, anything to give them that warm, fuzzy feeling. Familiarity and similarity also fall under this principle – if you communicate with your customers in the same style that they do, you can subtly boost your appeal.


When it comes to a customer handing over their hard earned money, they need to feel they can trust you, and being seen as credible and authoritative is one of the best methods to gain their respect. Don’t be modest, let your customers know exactly how you can help them and demonstrate your expertise in your market sector. If you write a blog, fill it with informative and helpful content. If you have employees, ensure they are well trained and knowledgeable about your products/services and remove any shadow of doubt from your customer’s mind.


This principle relates to supply and demand and implies that when there is a limited supply of a particular item or service, the higher the value we place on it. As a result, we are more likely to want it and will seize the opportunity to get it before it runs out. Legitimate messages such as “50% off for a limited time only”, “while stocks last” or “only 10 left!” can reduce customer hesitation and persuade them to make that all important sale.

Have you incorporated any of these principles into your sales and marketing strategy? How effective were they? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

This post was brought to you by Laura Gilmour at Companies Made Simple – The Simplest Company Formation Service

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