Persuasion of course plays a huge role in marketing. Failure to persuade a potential client or customer has damning effects on even the most popular brands. But by taking advantage of persuasion heuristics, you can increase your chances of truly persuading consumers.
Simply put, persuasion heuristics are cued mental shortcuts that we use when making decisions. We’re confronted with hundreds of decisions each day, and heuristics often save us time and effort in making many of those decisions. For instance, we may be more likely to try one brand of sports drink over another not because we’ve spent time investigating both drinks, but because an athlete we like endorsed it.
By knowing how to invoke these heuristics in your marketing messages, you can boost your chances of successfully persuading a consumer. A successful message will tap into one or more of your target audience’s heuristics and drive them to action. Robert Cialdini, best known for his book “Persuasion and Marketing,” offers six tips to captivating your target demographic:
- Authority. The voice or face of authority can help drive sales. This includes doctors, celebrities, scholars and experts. Having the right face to your company or product can be paramount. This is why celebrity endorsements frequent advertisements.
- Commitment and Consistency. Follow through and follow up. If your business commits to something, it is important to do it. Consumers want to interact with those they trust. Following through in whatever you commit to helps you establish a respectable and dependable name.
- Scarcity. Create hype based around time limits and expirations. Limited time offers are surprisingly appealing. Similarly, limited quantities help to drive sales. “While supplies last,” is still echoed throughout advertising for good reason.
- Liking. People are more persuaded by the people (or things) that like. Being friendly or funny helps. Once the market is permeated, the “liking” effect can trickle throughout social networks and help to perpetuate your cause.
- Social Proof. Try to show evidence that your product or service is beneficial. Statistics that are presented visually can be read quickly and easily, and they’ll help reinforce your sales pitch. People find comfort in seeing results.
- Reciprocity. Tit-for-tat relationships go a long way. Offer your target audience something for their time. Discounts, free trials and sample products all work well. These will also create easy exposure for your brand.
These guidelines have been put to the test for more than a generation. Plenty of evidence points to the success of properly using Cialdini’s persuasion heuristics. These should not be the end-all of your marketing strategy, however—expanding on these techniques will add to your success.