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Get What You Want With The 6 Weapons Of Influence

Get What You Want With The 6 Weapons Of Influence
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Whether we know it or not, we so often fall victim to meticulously planned and well-executed weapons of influence which practically force our hand into becoming compliant with blatant marketing ploys.

Taken from the international bestselling book Influence: Science and Practice, this article breaks down the comprehensive scientific studies conducted by Robert B Cialdini, a professor of psychology and marketing, into the weapons of influence.

Study them to learn how to recognize and avoid the consumer traps or to make use of them for your own gain and get what you want!

Weapon 1: Reciprocation

Think about a time when you received a gift or a birthday card from someone you’re not usually used to receiving one from. What impact did that have on you? What did that make you feel like doing? What did you most likely go and do? Of course you sent them a birthday card or gift back. Why is this? It’s simply due to the first weapon of influence: the rule of reciprocation. This rule states:

“We should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided for us.” 

For example, if a man sends us a birthday present, we should remember his birthday with a gift of our own; if a couple invites us to a party, we should be sure to invite them to one of our own.

By virtue of the reciprocity rule, then, we are obligated to the future repayment of favors, gifts, invitations, and the like.

But why is it so? It’s simple, we feel obligated to repay such a gesture due to a feeling of indebtedness. And it’s our inbred culture and belief systems that force us into repaying such debt. Think about how a term like “much obliged” has become a synonym for “thank you,” not only in the English language, but in others as well.

And that’s not all. The power of this rule doesn’t just stop with birthday cards, there are countless other examples of its power.

Uses for marketers and entrepreneurs:

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It’s simple. First, you must give before you ask or receive. It’s essential for any successful business to provide value to its audience or potential clients. If you provide something of value and provide it for free, you will begin to build a relationship of trust, which will materialize into receiving something in return — a sale.

Weapon 2: Social Proof

The next thing I want you to think about is the last time you purchased something online, a book from Amazon or a holiday to a sunny beach resort. What did you do before you decided to buy? You checked out the reviews, didn’t you? Of course you did, it’s what any right-minded consumer would do! But why? Because if it’s good enough for countless others, it must be good enough for you. After all, five stars is five stars! This is the principle of social proof in action. It states that:

“One means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.”

The principle applies especially to the way we decide what constitutes correct behavior. We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it. So when we are in a state of uncertainty, it’s human nature for us to look to those around us for guidance on which action to take.

Think about online giant Amazon. They built up their huge empire off the back of their product review system. Such was their understanding of the psychological principle of social proof, they actually encouraged their own employees to try and review their products for a reward. This boosted the number of reviews of products and began the process of providing social evidence on the quality of their products to potential customers.

Trip Advisor is another great example. This is a hugely popular site that millions of us look to before purchasing a holiday, going out on a day trip, or trying out a new restaurant. It provides us with the social reassurance we need before we part with our cold, hard cash.

Uses for marketers and entrepreneurs:

There are some key tools that you can manipulate to generate social proof for your businesses. The most obvious of these is the use of the many social media platforms. Think about when you are looking for a new product or learning about something new. The number of fans, likes, and followers will massively influence your decision to use, buy, or study. Pages or profiles with thousands or even millions of followers are seen as authorities in their niche and will continue to grow and get more sales. Take advantage of these platforms by making use of targeted advertising to generate your own following.

Testimonials are another powerful tool for social proof. It’s essential that you gather reviews and testimonies from your satisfied customers and use those to build trust with new customers. Testimonies from the “horse’s” mouth are the most powerful. If you don’t have many of your own to use, leveraging other people’s success stories is another powerful technique.

Weapon 3: Commitment and Consistency

So, consider this; once you’ve placed a bet on a horse or football match, or even bought a lottery ticket, have you ever felt much more confident that you are going to win than you did prior to placing that bet or purchasing the ticket? Did you feel a shift of energy from uncertainty to certainty? After all, you have to be in it to win it, right? This shift in belief comes from deep within us and can direct our actions with quiet power. The reason is quite simple. We have a desire to be (and appear to be) consistent with what we have already done. This is the third weapon of influence in action — commitment and consistency. This rule states:

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“Once people make a choice or make a stand they encounter internal and interpersonal pressure to behave in ways consistent with that choice.”

Such pressures cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision. We simply convince ourselves that we have made the right choice and will correspond our actions in accordance with the choice in order to appear normal and feel better about our decision.

Why do we think this type of behavior will make us appear normal? Well, people who are consistent in thought and in action are deemed to be stable, honest, logical, and rational.

Let’s illustrate this with a scientific example:

A study by Moriarty (1975) in New York analysed the number of people on a beach who would attempt to prevent a staged theft of an unattended radio left on a beach towel. In the first instance, only four out of 20 did so, which is probably quite understandable. However, once people were asked to please “watch my things” while the owner of the radio went off for a walk (which everyone agreed to), the results were drastically different. Nineteen out of the 20 suddenly became vigilantes when the staged theft then took place. This was the power of commitment and consistency in action!

Uses for marketers and entrepreneurs:

By getting people to make a commitment, of course! The most powerful commitments are those made publicly. The powerful phrase known as “if I, would you” is a great tool for this. In conversation with potential customers, you can get them to make a public commitment using this phrase. For example you might ask them “If I were to offer you a free place on this training course as goodwill gesture, would you attend?” Of course, if the response is “yes,” then you have a public commitment which is more likely to be followed through. The more public, the better.

Have you ever wondered why cold callers often begin the conversation by asking “How are you feeling today?” Once you reply “I’m well, thank you,” you are much less likely to then come up with some sob story and poor excuse as to why you can’t sign up for the charity donation or listen to the offer. Sneaky.

Weapon 4: Liking

The strength of a social bond is twice as likely to influence a sale than the preference for the product itself. Think about the times when you may have gone a little further out of your way to visit a store or make a purchase because you liked the the staff better.

Think about salespeople. The first thing a good salesperson will do is try to strike up a rapport with you by complimenting you, then by asking you questions in an attempt to find out your personal qualities or preferences, to then continue the conversation in alignment with these. A discussion about a favorite sport or sports team is a great example of this. Why does this work? Because we tend to like people who compliment us or who are similar to us in nature. This is the weapon of liking. It states:

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“People prefer to say yes to the requests of someone they know and like.”

It sounds awful, but even physical attractiveness plays a huge role in the effectiveness of this weapon. So, presentation and appearance is key in business.

Uses for marketers and entrepreneurs:

I’ll refer back to the word rapport. It’s essential that through the various communication media we have at our disposal, we build rapport with potential customers. The use of email marketing and social media platforms provide super-efficient ways of building trusting relationships in which the weapon of liking can be used.

I mentioned that presentation is key. When presenting to an audience, ensure your appearance is appropriate. This doesn’t always mean business attire either. It’s entirely down to your audience. Remember your audience will prefer to see physical attractiveness, but also similarities too, so choose carefully. This comes back to relationships, as you will need to know your audience or potential customers to be able to do this effectively.

Weapon 5: Authority

People respect authority. By authority, I mean people who are experts in their field or niche. Consider this: would you hire the services of a well-trained, experienced electrician opposed to that of an apprentice? How about a trainee plastic surgeon? Think about the feeling you would have in your gut when you’re lying on the theater table and the trainee surgeon walks in — “I’ve never done this operation before, but I think I can handle it…” No thanks!

People trust those that know what they are doing or what they are talking about. This is the weapon of authority, which states:

“Society values loyalty and deference to authority.”

Even appearing as an authority figure can make all the difference when it comes to business, even if the apparent authority is illegitimate. Such an appearance can considerably increase the likelihood that others will comply with your requests. Compliance equals sales, which equals profit! Business titles, attire, and flashy cars are all factors which can play a role here. This is why we so often see the classic self-made millionaire marketing campaigns in which the authority figure is donning designer Louis Vuitton clothes and a Lamborghini sports car — “Well, if he looks like that and owns one of those, he must know what he’s talking about!”

Uses for marketers and entrepreneurs:

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Become an authority in your own right! Personal development in any business is key. It’s essential that any new business person entrepreneur dedicates time to developing the skills, knowledge, and mindset needed to become an authority in their chosen niche. This doesn’t mean you need to know everything. On your journey, as you learn, you will appear as an authority to some. Even what may appear the most trivial of skills to you could be completely alien to others. The principle of learn, do, teach should be used, applied, and strictly adhered to.

In instances where depth of skills and knowledge is clearly lacking and presents a problem, utilizing testimonials from legitimate, recognized authorities can help to persuade others to engage with your business.

Weapon 6: Scarcity

It’s a psychological and economic fact that the more scarce something is, the more value we place on it. Can you think of a time when you rushed to buy something because you thought it would soon be out of stock? Can you remember the fuel crisis in the mid “naughties” in the UK? There were massive queues of cars and trucks at petrol stations in a panic to buy fuel. This was caused by blockades and boycotts of fuel transportation in protest against proposed fuel price hikes — the weapon of scarcity was heavily in action. This rule states:

“Opportunities are more valuable when their availability is limited.”

So, the rarer or more scarce something appears, the greater motivation there will be to obtain it. The phrase “hurry before they’re gone” is ringing in my ear right now. The fear of not being able to possess something whips people into a frenzy, desperate not to miss out. This is far more powerful than the motivation from the thought of actually having the ability to gain something.

Fear of the loss of freedom also comes into play here. When something becomes scarce, it generates a fear of the removal of freedom of choice to purchase or possess it. Businesses exploit this fear by displaying numbers of availability for products, the use of the color red for such a tactic further enhances this.

Queues for the latest iPhone, video game or console, concert tickets, and the madness of Black Friday are all classic illustrations of the lengths people will go to when the weapon of scarcity comes into play.

Uses for marketers and entrepreneurs:

Think about how you can shift the focus of a marketing campaign from the product’s benefits to an emphasis on the consequences of a missed opportunity. Offering a limited-time-only promotion often works well, too. We’ve all seen the classic countdown timer showing the amount of time remaining before the offer expires. Unfortunately, we can often refresh the page only to see the time reset! Legitimacy is important, but this doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of such a ploy. You can make a conscious decision on how to use such a tool. Where your products or services offer unique qualities or features, be sure to highlight this, as it is another form of scarcity.

Featured photo credit: Paul Schermerhorn by RL Johnson via imcreator.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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