Don’t you wish you knew exactly what went on in your buyer’s mind when they’re considering your offer?
The good news is that you can find out — in a way.
It’s not mind reading — it’s psychology, specifically the psychology of persuasion, based on the work of Robert Cialdini in his groundbreaking book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
How can you inspire the desire for your offer and influence buying decisions in an ethical way? How do you draw buyers to your brand like a magnet, making it seem like they just can’t get enough of what you’re selling?
According to Cialdini, there are seven principles that influence persuasion, or for our purposes the decision to buy a product online. They are reciprocity, commitment and consistency, liking, authority, scarcity, social proof, and unity.
If you’ve written any sales copy, or done any marketing, you likely recognized at least a few of those concepts. The real magic here happens when you learn how to recognize these factors in your own buying behaviors — how you like to buy — and translate that experience into how you present your offer, so that your prospects will buy.
Let’s look at each…
Almost every time I was in Costco (pre-Corona), they were giving out samples. It’s hard to say no to a free sample, and sometimes, I’d end up buying a product just because I got to sample it.
Think about online software with free trials, or the free trial with Netflix. The premise is that once you get in and start using it, experiencing the benefits, you won’t want to be without it.
In your business, it could be offering free strategy calls. That’s a really good way to start when you’re just building your business.
Anytime you go above and beyond to create value and establish a connection, you’re going to create a lifelong relationship with that customer. That leads to repeat buyers. You can never go wrong, in my opinion, by leading with value, as long as it’s done in an authentic and natural way.
Commitment and Consistency
Let’s take an example from my own business…my original Tiny Offer® — Livestream365. One of the reasons I created that offer and promoted it the way I did was to help people make a commitment to themselves and be consistent.
By giving them 365 days of ready-to-customize content for livestreams, I made it easier for them to ditch the excuses and just show up. I knew that if they could commit to daily livestreams and show up consistently, it would create a ripple effect in not only their visibility and business, but in many other areas of their lives.
Commitment and consistency is a huge piece of building trust with your audience — seeing you on a daily livestream, and you consistently showing up in their newsfeed builds a ton of trust.
So, with Livestream365, buyers are building commitment and consistency internally AND externally with their audience.
At the same time, people often need to make baby-step commitments, and that’s what the entire Tiny Offer® strategy is based on.
Customers are taking out their credit cards for a low-priced offer, generally $19 to $97. They’re after a quick win. Unlike deciding to invest in a $3,000 program, they’re making a micro-commitment to you that shifts the way they’re thinking about you as a brand. It shifts their perception of your brand immediately because they’ve made a small commitment. That one micro-commitment can pave the way to bigger commitments and bigger sales too.
Have you ever watched a talented salesperson at work? You’ll notice that they LISTEN to you, first of all, and they build rapport, often by finding a commonality.
Maybe you get on a call with a salesperson who asks where you live. Then they might say something like: “Oh, Grand Rapids? My cousin grew up in Grand Rapids. Do you know so-and-so? They grew up on Pokegama Lake.”
When they offer really specific details like that, you think, “Oh yeah, we have something in common. We can be friends.”
Why not just get to the point, which is to make the sale, right? And there are some buyers who will claim they prefer to get to the point. But I’m sure we’ve ALL had that sales experience — the pushy, almost desperate salesperson. It’s not fun, and definitely not a successful sales strategy.
The fact is: We buy from people we LIKE. That’s why brands take the time to build know, like, and trust — they don’t skip the “like.”
Don’t mistake being liked as doing anything you can to fit in, or pretending to be perfect. I encourage you to always be authentic in your content and marketing because when you show up as yourself, you’re going to attract the right people to your brand. That’s the only way to build genuine and lasting relationships with your customers.
Potential buyers want evidence that you have the expertise and experience to back up your offer. They have to believe that you can do what you say you’ll do and help them get the results they want.
Authority and credibility go hand-in-hand with trust. And you cannot skimp on this factor because there’s a lot of mistrust in the online space…for good reason. There are business owners who rely on flashy, smoke and mirrors techniques to make it appear they have a level of success they do not have.
We have a basic need as buyers to know that people are who they say they are and can deliver the result that’s promised.
There are a lot of ways to build authority in your brand — case studies, testimonials, your credentials and experience, being featured on trusted websites and podcasts. The most important factor here is not overstating who you are, or what your offer can help people do. That’s a recipe for a bad reputation and an onslaught of refund requests.
We love peer pressure. Remember when you were a teenager? How much did you want to fit in with your group, or the “in” group, or any group really?
As humans, we want to be liked by our peers. So, social proof is like peer pressure. If you see a recommendation from Sally, who lives down the street, or Sarah, one of your Facebook friends, you get curious. You want to try it because Sally or Sarah did and got great results.
Or in the case of online reviews and testimonials, you may not know the reviewer personally, but in some way you can RELATE to that person. They are a health coach just like you. Or they have three kids just like you. Or they had the same struggles as you. You think, “If they got such great results, maybe I can too.”
Social proof is a must-have element of building a brand online because you want to build trust and show prospects that your offers really do work — for people just like them.
Scarcity and urgency get a bad name because the concept is often abused in the online space.
The idea is that humans desire what we can’t (or almost can’t) have. We desire something MORE if it’s in limited quantity. When supply goes low, demand goes high. (Think of toilet paper in 2020.)
We’re more likely to make a buying decision when we’re given a deadline. That’s why online offers often have an open-cart period and a countdown timer ticking away on the sales page and in emails. It triggers us to buy because we’re afraid of missing out — good old FOMO (fear of missing out).
The thing to remember here is that your buyers will have objections — and typically they’ll have a fear of taking you up on your offer. Maybe they’re afraid of wasting their money, or afraid it won’t work for them, or afraid they’ll have to change to get results. While you can and should address their objections, scarcity and urgency can help overcome their fear of buying with the fear of missing out.
The reason I say it’s abused is because there are a lot of marketers who will do the fake scarcity/urgency thing. For example, they say there’s a limited number available when they’ll really sell to infinity. Or they have an obviously evergreen webinar that they try to pass it off as “”live.”
Your customers are not suckers. They know that’s not legit, and it breaks down trust versus building it up.
That said, you absolutely should leverage legitimate scarcity and urgency in your offer.You are only one person, and you only have so much time. You could offer a pay-in-full bonus of a one-on-one call for the first 10 people who buy.
Most buyers expect your offer to expire — even evergreen offers usually expire after a certain period. So, there’s nothing wrong with having a cart open and cart close for your offer.
Belonging and feeling safe with our group of family, friends, and peers is a biological drive.
You don’t want to get eaten by a bear, so it’s probably better to stick together. In biological terms, being pushed out of the group equals certain death. To the human brain, the type of death — social or literal — doesn’t make much difference. Not belonging is a real threat to survival.
Your customers want to be included and to feel as though they’re part of a movement.
As you’re building your brand and products, how can you invite them to belong? How can you create a movement behind your brand? How can you make them feel heard, seen, and valued?
Whether you’re selling a $27 offer, or a $10,000 offer, helping your customer feel valued is essential.
Listen to the companion podcast here.