Itchy. I’m itchy. Not just a little itchy, but really itchy. And guess what, you may be feeling a little itchy too. That’s the power of thought; I may think or say something and you will be influenced to think of the same thing as me. You see, there’s a disease going around, one that’s so contagious it spreads without contact, and that’s “thought disease.” Marketing tactics that use the “Law of Social Proof” are capitalising on the fact people tend to follow the pack, as it is the “socially correct” thing to do. This will include thoughts, beliefs, values, actions, etc.
Why is it that Apple is one of the most successful companies today, and competitors struggle to compete? Whilst players like Samsung, HTC and Blackberry have released their own versions of the tablet, Apple still holds the majority of the market share for tablet computers. You will notice that every time a new Apple product will launch, Apple advocates would talk about it everywhere – in person, on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, on TV, etc. When you hear that everyone is buying a product or service, you may feel you are missing out.
The Sixth Face to Persuasion is the Law of Social Proof
Marketing consultants understand that most people are imitators; we look at others as guidance on how to speak or act, and to determine what is right or wrong. People are more willing to behave in a certain way if there is evidence that everyone else is doing it, however this generally works in two conditions:
Like the Law of Liking, we’re most susceptible to being influenced when the persuader is similar to us. Testimonies from everyday, satisfied customers or clients are strong as we can identify with these people who are just like us. Comparably, teenagers commonly take up drinking or smoking, as they see other teens doing it.
When we’re unsure with a decision, we are more likely to go with the crowd, as it will seem the safe thing to do – this comes as an evolved survival instinct. As we also learnt from the Law of Scarcity, people are driven by a fear of losing on an opportunity and may purchase a product or service when they see others doing it.
However, sometimes the Law of Social Proof may work the opposite way. There will always be people that do not follow the crowd. We will always have the Blackberries yelling “Wake Up” to the crowds, who strive to be independent against the mass of Apples.
Nonetheless, the law can still be used to persuade others in negotiations. For example, you may convince co-workers that your suggestions should be considered, as staff in other departments are already following similar proposals to you. People like to feel that they are part of an established community that knows where it is going (Greer 2006). Marketing tactics will employ this insight within their communication; they can exhibit pictures of excited people similar to you using the product or service, display figures of how many customers/clients they already have, or cite mentions in respected media.
“Thought disease” is incredibly powerful, influencing people to catch the same thoughts as everyone else. If others are using the Law of Social Proof, why shouldn’t you?
Are you with me?
Greer, E 2006, ‘How To Use the Six Laws of Persuasion during a Negotiation’, Global Knowledge, Cary, North Carolina, viewed 13 September 2012 <http://www.globalknowledge.com/training/whitepaperdetail.asp?pageid=502&wpid=181&country=United+States>.
The doorbell rings at night and you look through the peephole to see two police officers. Do you open the door? Now how about the doorbell rings and you see two strangers in street clothes outside. Would you be just as likely to open the door? Most likely not. You would have probably judged the police officers by their uniform, guns and badges and see them as credible, whereas the strangers would lack any clothing or proof of authority.
We grow up to respond to authority figures, from our parents to the characters on the TV. We know to obey our parents, otherwise we may be punished, or that teachers are people to look up to for knowledge. That’s why marketing tactics involve brand building with authority, which leads to credibility, and thus helps influence others in the art of persuasion.
The Fifth Face to Persuasion is the Law of Authority
When marketing communications quote vague authorities, that “experts say this is their preferred brand,” you may wonder who these experts are. What credentials do they have? Why will you trust them? Do they have a vested interest? Simply having authority may not be enough, but you will have to establish credibility.
There’s a reason why more definite and distinct celebrity endorsements or expert testimonials work. When building your brand identity, you should select people that are most suitable for your product or service. Do they have relevant knowledge or qualifications? Are they trustworthy, or do people regard them as trustworthy? Even physical attractiveness may come across as someone of credibility. When you see a person on the screen, whether they are a celebrity, policeman, lawyer, politician, doctor or guru, if a product or service is good enough for them, then it must be good enough for you.
What ways can you express yourself or your brand identity and authority?
Lavelle, J 2010, ‘6 Laws of Influence’, Psychology Today, no.2, viewed 12 November 2012, <http://www.blueiceconsulting.co.uk/documents/6_Laws_of_Influence_-_Part2_-_JonLavelle_000.pdf>.
As we discussed in the previous blog, one face to the cube of persuasion is the Law of Reciprocity; we like to repay what another person has provided for us. As each face is equally as important and required to box up a sale, the second face to marketing tactics and branding strategy is looking at people’s behaviour patterns or tendencies. You can deliberately shift attitudes and subsequent actions to persuade others to achieve your ends. Or simply recognise when others are using these common sales and marketing techniques on you.
The amazing thing about many leading novels is that the psychology of marketing is embedded within almost every facet of life.
Whether it is making friends in the sandpit, or making sense of your partner’s ramblings, marketing tactics and branding strategy are about understanding your goals as well as the objectives of your peers, effectively achieving a mutually beneficial solution. This, essentially, is the process of persuasion.
Like a cube, there are six faces to persuasion, each equally important and all equally needed to box up a sale. In psychologist, Robert Cialdini’s book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” he discusses the Six Laws of Persuasion. By understanding these laws, you can control how much people influence you, as well as how to use them to your benefit during negotiations – both in the workplace, as well as in personal life.
The First Face to Persuasion is the Law of Reciprocity
Naturally, when human beings are given something, they feel obliged to give something back. We all feel it is right to return favours when they are given to us. Similarly, when Mr. and Mrs. Johnson brought a salad when they are invited over to your last gathering, you may feel the need to arrive at theirs with at least a bottle of wine in hand.
When sponsors give out free drinks at festivals, when you go out for a test drive for a new car, or when a charity gives you a flower, no matter how small a gift may be, these marketing tactics and branding strategy make people feel the need to “return the favour.”
There’s no wonder we hear sayings like “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” or “What goes around, comes around.” It’s about fairness and equality. Give a little to a prospect, and you may end up with a customer.