Influencers from Around the World – My Favourite Principles of Influence Used by Online Marketers

This month our Influencers from Around the World guest post comes all the way from Ireland courtesy of Sean Patrick. Sean owns his own sales training company, Sean Patrick Training, and writes a blog, Professional Persuader. We met through Facebook several years ago because of Dr. Cialdini and we’ve maintained regular contact ever since. I know you’ll enjoy what Sean has to say this week.

My Favourite Principles of Influence Used by Online Marketers
The following is a list of my all time favourite principles of influence used by online marketers and how I see them used; the good, the bad and the ugly.
1.     Authority
Marketers use this principle to create a sense or feeling of how the potential customer is in safe hands because they make the prospect feel as though they’ve found someone who has or can demonstrate ability, credibility and proof of concept by knowing the exact pain, dissatisfaction and problem that the prospect is currently feeling. It’s a demonstration of experience by telling a story of how the knowledge to overcome the problem or dissatisfaction came about, the journey of anguish and frustration followed by one “Eureka” moment that just blew the problem apart and facilitated a solution.
Solutions imply success and this is where testimonials come in handy. The marketer will supply oodles of proud and happy customer testimonials which make the prospect’s imagination itch with anticipation. Unfortunately all too often the testimonials are nothing more than cronies and affiliates who have an interest in the product’s success by earning commissions on each sale.
The real heavyweight to this principle is when the marketer offers a cast-iron guarantee or assurance as to the efficacy of the product that the prospect will only ever experience success. This deflects any come back to the marketer by implying that it’s the customer’s problem if they don’t experience the same results as all the other customers.
The last piece of the authority principle that the marketer needs to employ is by bringing in the heavy-weight celebrities, famous affiliates or mentioning some major event they sponsor.  The principle of authority when used credibly creates and confirms expertise, but when done in an egotistical manner it implies “Guru Status.” There is a world of difference between the two and self-appointed gurus are best avoided.
2.   Scarcity (Fake Urgency)
When done properly and all other conditions are met this is the one principle to send a would-be buyer over the edge. It makes them buy, especially when potential customers are spoon-fed the notion that what they are pondering is about to be taken away from them due to two things:
a. Limited stock or supply, or
b. Time limited price offer
Scarcity is often perceived as the one to watch out for because it’s been used over and again, but if all the other principles are used effectively then scarcity becomes the trigger that’s easily pulled. The easiest way this is done on the web is by stating right from the start that what is about to be sold is scarce either because of limited supply or because the guy in the stock room messed up and priced all the labels incorrectly, stupidly at a much lower price so therefore the marketer can’t afford to sell the product at the launch price for an extended period.
The reality is that scarcity is quite often fake and the sense of urgency is false; just a ploy. The majority of products sold on the web are information products so how can something produced digitally be of limited supply? The same rule applies with price simply because no one sells anything at a loss; unless it’s a liquidation sale where all stock is liquidated at low prices in order to pay the exorbitant fees of the liquidator. This why a time limited price offer can be extended and often is when the guy in the stockroom screws up again and finds a ton of stock that was hidden under a polythene cover.
In my opinion scarcity is really powerful when people travel and they see something that is scarce back home but is abundant in the region they are travelling through. But the conundrum is either to buy there and then or to go on the web and buy via direct mail when they get back home. Generally, the window of opportunity is narrow for both seller and buyer and most of the time the tourist will succumb and purchase on the spot.
3.   Reciprocity (Concession)
The principle of reciprocity has been killed to death by marketers on the web. The usual tricks follow the pattern of exchanging an email address in return for some pointless or semi-useful report, whitepaper or mp3 that contains only self promoting messages rather than ready-to-use-instantly-valuable information.
A new wave of reciprocity is to receive an invitation from a marketer to a live web-conference where you can learn X and Y and achieve Z for free. It’s like a 3 for 2 offer. This tactic achieves both receiving the identities and email addresses of prospects that sit at the beginning of the sales cycle and during the lead nurturing process the marketer can choose to offer more freebies of varying scales to the prospect with the aim of qualifying the prospect further. The principle of reciprocity states that I’m more compelled to do something for you because you gave me something first that was both personal and timely.
Prospects will begin to find the marketer as a source of authority through a repetitive experience of this principle.
4.   Contrast
Perceptual contrast is one of the sneakiest tricks that a marketer can play out in the online world. The same tricks that a mentalist employs are played out online all the time.
This principle plays stage to how a menu of prices can confuse and distract and leave the customer financially worse off. Just the like the 3 for 2’s you see in the shops a similar price structure ensures that the marketer is maximizing every dollar from every customer. But the pricing structure can be a lot more complicated if bonus materials and legacy products are offered at supposedly discounted prices.
Just like price, how problems are solved can be distorted very easily by using this principle. Questions a lot of people don’t ask themselves before buying include:
a. What will this product really do?
b. How much time do I need to invest in order to get a return?
c. How does the product really work?
More often than not the obvious gets blurred by the use of other principles melding together that creates dissonance in the prospects mind. This in turn creates a contrasting perception of where they are and where they’ll be in the future but at the same time seeing their potential future self in the present because they’ve convinced themselves to buy the marketers product and now feel a part of a tribe of successful like-minded people. They trust wholeheartedly the marketer to be their sole authority over their problem.
5.    Liking
I like you because you appear to be similar to me because of experience, status, color, race, sexuality, football team, or our stamp collection.  ; )
Liking is powerful because it brings about a sense of trust that is long lasting. We all want to be a part of the same crew, tribe, team and corporation or we like people who value our sense of freedom and independence and therefore feel camaraderie. This tactic is very popular with online marketers who launch membership sites that take in monthly fees or marketers who create pre-launch events that bring together the entire pool of prospects who suffer the same dissatisfactions and allow them to network, mingle and produce fellowships by way of interacting in web-chat facilities, forums and social media sites.  It also goes hand in hand with the social proof principle that facilitates the need to purchase even more because people who we came into friending are buying, and those who bought before had huge successes and you know what they were pretty cool people too and I like them!
Hopefully your eyes are open a little wider now and you can spot legitimate use of certain principles of influence vs. illegitimate use.

To read about Influential Negotiations on Sean’s site click here.

1 reply
  1. career coach
    career coach says:

    Hi, thank you for submitting your site. It was extremely insightful
    and I can understand that you are genuinely knowledgable about the subjects you write about.
    Continue up the good work!


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.