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Get What You Want With The 6 Weapons Of Influence

Get What You Want With The 6 Weapons Of Influence

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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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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