Define Influence

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

A well-known principle of human behavior say that when we ask someone to do us a favor, we will be more successful if we provide a valid reason for the favor. People simply like to have a reasons for what they are about to do. Instead of including a real reason for compliance, the request using the word “because” merely re-stated the obvious:

One of the most important characteristics of compelling, persuasive content is specificity. The more specific you are, the more credible your points, arguments or sales pitch.

There are many ways to be specific in your writing. One of the best is simply giving a reason why. And the most effective transition word when giving a “reason why” is because.

The power of because has actually been documented by social psychologist Ellen Langer, Langer performed an experiment where she asked to cut in line to use a copy machine.

She tested three different ways of asking, and recorded the results:

Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?

60% said OK.

Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?

94% said OK.

It appears that giving the “reason why” of because I’m in a rush boosted the effectiveness of the request immensely.

But here’s the kicker:

Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?

93% said OK.

The trigger word “because” is so powerful that it didn’t really seem to matter that the “reason why” provided was something you might expect to hear from a four year old child.

Be specific in your assertions, and always give a reason why, especially when you want people to take some form of action.

Not because I said so, but rather because it will work wonders for you.

There are thousands of different strategies that professional businesses use to produce a “yes,” the majority fall within six basic categories. Consistency, reciprocation, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. People want to get the most and pay the lease for their choices. The desire to maximize benefits and minimize cost is unimportant in driving our decision.

It is much more profitable for the salesperson to present the expensive items first, not only because to fail to do so will lose the influence of the contrast principle; to fail to do so will also cause the principle to work actively against them. Presenting an inexpensive product first and follow it with an expensive one will cause the expensive item to see even more costly as a result – hardly and desirable consequence for most sales organizations.

Rule for reciprocation

The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us. If someone has does use a favor, we should do her one in return; if a friend invites us to a party, we should be sure to invite them to one of ours. By virtue of the reciprocity rule, then, we are obliged to the future repayment of favors, gifts invitations and the like. So typical is it for indebtedness to accompany the receipt of such things that a term like “much obliged” has become synonym for “thank you,” not only in the English language but in others as well.

Cultural anthropologists say that our ancestors learned to share their food and their skills in our honored network of obligations, and viewing this “web of indebtedness” as a unique adaptive mechanism of human beings. This exchange of diverse forms of goods, or service is a creation of a cluster of interdependencies that bind individuals together into highly efficient units.

For the first time in evolutionary history, one individual could give away any of a variety of resources without actually giving them away. The result was: lowering of the natural inhibitions against transactions that may be began by one person’s providing personal resources to another. With such clearly adaptive consequences for the culture, it is not surprising that the rule for reciprocation is so deeply implanted in us by the process of socialization we all undergo.

Let’s examine the power of reciprocation in the marketing field with the “free sample.” As a marketing technique, the free sample has a long and effective history. In most instances, a small amount of the relevant product is provided to potential customers for the stated purpose of allowing them to try to see if they like it. The beauty of a free sample, however, is that it is also a gift and, as such, can engage the reciprocity rule. He who gives free samples can be the natural indicting force inherent in a gift while innocently appealing to have only the intention to inform.

However, another person can trigger a feeling of indebtedness by doing us an uninvited favor. It does not require us to have asked for what we have received in order to feel obligated to repay.

There is no obligation together; an obligation to receive reduces our ability to choose whom we wish to be indebted to, and puts that power in the hands of others.

There is a strong cultural pressure to reciprocate a gift, even an unwanted one.

Most of us find it highly disagreeable to be in a state of obligation. It weighs heavily on us and demands to be removed. It is not difficult to trace the source of this feeling. The cost reciprocal arrangements are so vital in human social systems we have been conditioned to be uncomfortable when beholden.

Consequently, we are taught from childhood to be irritated, emotionally, under the saddle of obligation. For this reason alone, we may be willing to agree to perform a larger favor that we received, merely to relieve ourselves of the psychological burden of debt.

The more effort that goes into a commitment, the greater its ability to influence the attitudes of the person who made it.

When a small commitment has been made, people tend to add validation to support the commitment and then are willing to commit themselves further.

Advertisers love to inform us when a product is the “fastest growing” or “largest – selling” because they don’t have to convince those directly that the product is good, they need only say that many others think so, which seems proof enough.

“Since 95 percent of people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.”

Without question, when people are hesitant, they are more likely to use others actions to decide how they themselves should act. The standard of social proof operates most powerful when we are observing the behaviors of people just like us. Therefore we are more inclined to follow the lead or a similar individual, then one dissimilar.

Advertisers know that one successful way to sell a product to ordinary consumers is to demonstrate that others “ordinary” people like us are using it. So whether the product is a brand of facial cream, are a pain reliever, or a laundry detergent, we have proof of the praise from Julie, Mary and Jane. Hence, why product and service reviews are so popular.

Social proof 

The way we respond to social proof is first, we seem to assume that if a lot of people are doing the same thing, they must know something we don’t. Especially when we are uncertain, we are willing to place an enormous amount of trust in the collective knowledge of the crowd. Second, the crowd not acting on the basis of any superior information but they are reacting, to the principle of social proof.

With the overwhelming ally as the friendship principal among women, it’s little wonder that companies are abandoning retail sales outlets and are more focused on the home party concept. Friends sharing with friends what they use or recommend, a very powerful concept.

The formula for success consists of offering people just two things: a fair price and someone they liked to buy from. “And that’s it.” Finding the salesperson they like, plus the price; bring them both together, and you get a deal.

Research has shown that we automatically assigned to good – looking individuals such verbal traits as talent, kindness, honesty, and intelligence. Furthermore, we make these judgments without being aware that physical attractiveness plays a role in the process.

In a helping study, for instance, the better looking man and woman received aid are often even from members of their own sex. It is apparent that good – looking people enjoy an enormous social advantage in our culture. They’ll been aligned, more persuasive, more frequently help, and seen as possessing better personality traits and intellectual capacities. And it appears that the social benefits of good looks begin to accumulate quite early.

We like people who are similar to us. This fact seems to hold true whether the similarity is in the area of opinions, personality traits, background, or life-style. Consequently, those that wish to be liked in order to increase our compliance can accomplish that purpose by appearing similar to those in any of a wide variety of ways.

Another way a request can manipulate similarity to increase liking and compliance is to claim that they have a background and interest similar to ours.

Greater liking leads to greater social influence. Social media is very powerful. If you have many likes on your Facebook fan page, for example, it encourages more likes. Following the crowd.

The linking of celebrities to products is another way advertisers cash in on the association principle.

Concentrate your attention on the end result rather than the actual cause, (source). Show people what you can do for them, not what actually cause the problem.

Jane the salesperson wants to close your deal; she wants you to decide which one of the two items before you are you going to buy? Before a decision is made, it would be important to ask yourself this crucial question: “In the twenty minutes you’ve known this woman, have you come to like her more than you would have expected?”If the answer is yes, you might want to reflect upon how Jane behaved during that time you spent together, what was it about her that made you trust her and want to buy from her in particular. What was it about her body language that built a connection?

Authority figure

We are more frequently influenced by the actual “title” of the person, then by the actual nature of what they do for a living.

The following research has been found to be true around the world. When we are confronted with an authority figure, and we have determined they are a relevant expert. Before submitting to authority influence, it would be wise to ask a simple question: “how truthful can we expect the expert to be in this situation?” We need to consider their trustworthiness in the situation. In fact, most the time, we do. We allow ourselves to be swayed by experts that seem to be in partial, then by those who have something to gain by convincing us they are the expert in this matter. By wondering how an expert stands to benefit from our agreement, we give ourselves another safety net against undue and automatic influence. Even knowledgeable authorities in a field will not persuade us until we are satisfied that their message represents the facts faithfully.

When asking ourselves about such a person’s trustworthiness, we should keep in mind a little tactic compliance practitioners often used to assure us of their sincerity: They will seem to argue to a degree against their own interests. Correctly done, this can be a settle effective devise for providing their honesty. Perhaps they will mention a small shock coming in their position or product. Invariably, though, the drawback will be a secondary one that is easily overcome by most significant advantages. By establishing their basic trust worthiness on minor issues, the compliance professionals who use this ploy can then be more believable when stressing the marketing aspects of their argument.

To all appearances, knowledge and honesty combination gave him great credibility.

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Fay B. Castro