Technology & InternetThe 6 Best Persuasion Strategies Ever

You're using these strategies without even knowing. And others are using them on you - effectively.


We want to know how people think and take decisions because our success in everything we do in life depends on it. Here are the 6 best persuasion strategies ever (introduced by Robert Cialdini) - and why they are useful in business and life.

#1 Reciprocity

If I do something for you, you'll be more inclined to do something for me in return.

The way businesses use this is by giving away things such free samples, trial runs or bonuses. The client feels in debt to the company for having received a favour and will be more willing to comply with a request from them.

When they want to get a good response rate on surveys, researchers attach a small monetary gift to the surveys they send out.

#2 Social proof

We are social beings and throughout history we discovered that our chances of survival and success are higher when we stick with the pack. So we tend to trust said pack.

Facebook uses social proof a lot in its advertising. The so-called social ads list the number of people who've already 'liked' a page in order to convince you to do the same.

The same principle is at work when someone asks you to sign a petition and shows you a long list of people who have already signed.

When companies use testimonials from happy clients - yes, you see social proof at work yet again!

#3 Commitment & Consistency

People's brains cannot stand having contradictory thoughts. Our brains work around the clock to solve all conflicts between thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc.

We need to be consistent. A good sales person won't try to sell their product immediately. They will first try to get you to open the door. Then they will try to come into your house. Then they will ask you a few simple questions for which the answer will always be "yes". And because you've let them into your house, and you let them have a conversation with you, and you've said "yes" a few times already, the next logical step is to say "yes" to the question about buying their product. Now, of course, it doesn't work 100% of the times, but it is effective and you will be more inclined to buy at the end if you've made small concessions on the way.

Copywriters use this technique as well by asking simple questions in the copy that they're sure the reader will answer with "yes".

And, by the way, do you know how John Lennon fell in love with Yoko Ono? Read on, I'll tell you...

#4 Liking

This is an easy one. If I like you, I'm going to be more inclined to comply with a request from you, than from someone I don't know or like.

Businesses (and people) use stories to get you to like and trust them. A story makes a company human. And if you can relate to that story, you will start feeling an attachment that will make you more vulnerable to advertisements or offers from that company.

Also, when using celebrity endorsers, companies hope that by liking the celebrity, you'll like them too and, hopefully, buy their products.

#5 Scarcity

Oh, no! Only 2 left? I'd better get my hands on one right now!

It's an irrational panic you get every time you think you might miss out on something if you don't act right away.

You can see this technique used everywhere. Every time "the offer expires at midnight" or there is a "limited stock" or "only the first 50 customers get the discount", your fear of missing out is exploited.

The less available a product/opportunity is the more desirable it becomes.

#6 Authority

“It makes great sense to comply with the wishes of properly constituted authorities. It makes so much sense, in fact, that people often comply when it makes no sense at all.” - Robert Cialdini

Researchers found that people are very much willing to comply with the requests made by a person wearing a white lab coat. Why? Because we associate white coats with doctors and doctors with authority.

We're used to listening to authority figures since the day we are born. It's no wonder that it's a mental reflex.

That's why "90% of dentists use X toothpaste" and it's also why the man and woman advertising that piece of home fitness equipment look as fit as one gets.

Now, here's the thing. John Lennon was visiting an art gallery in London in 1966, where Yoko Ono was having an exhibition. He thought that pretty much everything in there was just bad art, until he came across an installation. The idea of the piece was that he had to climb on a ladder and look through a spyglass to see a word printed in tiny letters on a canvas suspended from the ceiling. So he did. He climbed all the way up, looked through the spyglass and saw the word "yes". Nothing more.

Maybe you knew the story already. If you didn't, it's a good example of influence at work and also a romantic touch to all this talk about persuasion.

And don't hesitate to have a look at Robert Cialdini's famous, and rightly so, book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It's a must-read for marketers, copywriters and basically everyone who's ever had to convince anyone of anything.

(photo credit:


Cv_photoSabina VargaFreelancerCopywriter, blogger, communication strategist


Senior Graphic & Web Design Specialist Brian MartinSenior Graphic & Web Design Specialist Brian MartinGood Article

Read Robert Cicilanainiani's Persuasion books and I often wonder why marketers don't read and refer more to those types of books as they can give huge insights.

Was the sexy girl on the front part of a persuasion tip you didn't mention? Haha

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