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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 September 29, 2020

How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

How to Start an Online Business That Will Grow and Succeed

Unsurprisingly enough, all businesses are online today. Considering the advances in the smartphone industry as well as the increasingly accessible internet facility, it was only a matter of time before businesses took advantage of the online environment.

This increasing popularity makes for a promising future for a lot of young entrepreneurs. And knowing how to start an online business will open up a world of possibilities for you that was not possible 10 years ago.

So, keeping the potential for exponential growth in mind, let’s dive into the article below, and explore the steps of starting an online business that will bring you success.

1. Becoming the Master of ‘ONE’ Trade

Most successful online businesses are the master of one trade. And that’s why beginning with a niche is always a good idea.

A niche market is a focused segment within a larger market. Imagine a men’s shoes market and then, imagine handcrafted brown Italian leather shoes for men. While the previous one is a bigger market, the latter one is simply a more focused segment within that market.

Knowing the niche helps a lot to start an online business and if you are feeling a bit lost, here are some self-queries that will act as a perfect guide:

What Speaks to Your Heart?

This first way of discovering the niche is perfect for those who want to do what they love. Working in a market that you love will ensure that constant excitement and drive to do better, eventually leading to ultimate prosperity.

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Decisions Based on Knowledge

The second way is perfect for those who have a lot of untapped knowledge about a specific industry. Utilizing the insights on a specific industry is a great way to find a niche. This way, you’ll already know all the ins and outs of the industry and can easily get ahead of all the competitors.

Undiscovered Potential

Lastly, conducting research into various industries and finding an untapped segment is another amazing way of finding the right niche. This practice will require you to come up with a new and unique solution for uncatered audiences.

2. When Is Your Idea Valid?

All the great ideas for starting an online business needs to be valid. And once you have found the niche, this validation process is what comes next.

Proving the soundness of the idea is not at all hard. A detailed industry examination is all you need initially to understand the value of the concept and recalibrate it to turn into a great online business.

Market research is a systematic unraveling of the target market. This research will include all the information on the product/service you are about to sell, the target audience, and how the competitors are operating in this crowded market.

This in-depth research will give you the initial idea of how the products can make an impact in the outside world. And once the small online business ideas are validated, it will be time to move on and craft a plan and start working on establishing the business.

3. Crafting the Map to Success

Having a proper plan for an online business is like having a map when you travel to an unknown city. This is a document that includes all the factual information on the business and crucial business data.

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To help you out, here’s a list of all the information online business plans must include:

  • An idea of objective – The best online business plans always have a clear outline of the business goals and intentions. Having this clear outline will increase the efficiency of business functions later on. The target demographic, business model—all kinds of information needs to be a part of this document.
  • Taking stock of available resources – A startup needs to utilize all the resources it has, and that’s why the plan needs to have an in-depth outline of the financial resources in use as well as the employees and their expertise. With a better idea of all the resources in hand, starting an online business will be an easier process.

4. The Virtual Storefront: A Process of Development

The steps of how to start an online business are incomplete without the website creation process. With the right website approach, you can easily succeed in increasing business revenue.

What does that perfect business website look like? Let’s follow these steps to create an effective business website.

Choose Your Approach

There are numerous ways of making a website and for a positive outcome, you need to choose the perfect approach. Depending on the business model, initial finances, and end goals, there are two kinds of approaches for the online storefront:

  • Third-party approach – Third-party platforms will connect you with the customers out there. For small online business ideas, Creating an account or site with these platforms will be beneficial because these platforms come with a large array of services as well as a big enough existing consumer base ready to utilize.
  • Creating a new website –  A business-specific website will help you eliminate the third party go-between and connect directly with the buyers. With this approach, you get more control over the business and how it is presented to the consumers out there and the revenue you make. Any of the above-mentioned approaches can be beneficial for easy online business startups. However, to achieve some specific business goals, having a customized website will be more beneficial for you.

Design Can Bring You Maximum Success!

For those who have decided to create their own site, the design is of paramount importance. With a great design, you will be able to engage and interact with the visitors better and encourage them to make a purchase.

The design, however, is not just a matter of aesthetics. A website’s design encompasses all aspects of it, from the visual effects to the content that’s used on the site.

To create a truly amazing design that reflects new online business concepts here are a few matters to consider:

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  • Keep it responsive – Many markets are simply skipping over the desktop phase and launching the business for mobile users around the world.[1] Considering this popularity of the mobile internet market, the business website has to be responsive. This approach will help you to reach a bigger audience and conduct business on a larger scale.
  • Users want a fast experience – Using high-quality images on the site does improve the visuals, but make sure all those images are compressed. Having a faster website will enhance the user experience on the site. Besides compressing all the media content on the site, you can also utilize an asynchronous loading technique that loads all the contents simultaneously, reducing friction. With a faster site, it will become easier to implement the online business startup ideas into reality.
  • Define the brand – The design stage determines a lot of things for the business website and one of those things is the business image. To make an impact on the world with the business, you have to create a perfect image and for that, a brand guide is necessary. The brand guide is a document that includes all the information and guidelines on various visual elements on the site that makes up the business personality. Based on the kind of image you want to create, all the elements will be outlined in this documentation.

Where the Website Becomes Reality

Since we know how website design helps to launch a successful online business, it is time to move onto development. Online business development is where the idea becomes a reality. And to make this reality perfect, you need to make sure that the development and deployment process goes well.

A high performing site always includes all the right features that enhance the user experience as well as helps you to convert more traffic. And for the best results, ensure the use of only the latest tech stack during development.

Here are some development issues you have to pay attention to while building the business website:

  • The right partner makes all the difference – For small startups who are wondering how to start an online business, finding the right development partner is going to make all the difference. However, before making a decision, there are a few things you should contemplate. The team that you are about to hire should have experience in catering to your industry, as well as an extensive portfolio and good reviews. Additionally, it will be perfect if the agency or freelancer also provides a 360-degree service, from development to maintenance.
  • How to assure the quality of the site? – Testing the site is an integral part of the answer to the question of “how to start an online business?”. An experienced partner will be able to help you the most with this. From security testing to split testing, this stage in development will help in understanding how well the site functions and what needs to change. And once the changes are made and the test results come clean, it will be time to launch the website.

5. Some Tricks to Increase Online Sales

Selling online is not easy, but not hard either. In a physical store, you can use campaigns, go door to door with pamphlets, and such. However, successful online businesses have their own style of campaigns that helps them to sell more without any problems.

So, what are these tricks?

Utilize the Magic of SEO

With an increase in quality traffic, the sales ratio will go up too. And to drive quality traffic on the website, you need to utilize the SEO tricks, and probably hire an SEO expert.

When starting an online business site, ensure all the content on the site is optimized to rank for the right queries by target consumers. With a higher rank on the SERP, the traffic will increase on the site.

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With the increase in quality traffic, it will become easier for you to convert visitors. The visitor data will help you to adjust the site performance. In brief, utilizing SEO will open the doors to a lot of possibilities for your small online business ideas.[2]

Entice With Free Value

Consumers today have lots of options to choose from. And keeping all that in mind, it will be wise to create a business plan for an online startup that provides free value to the users before asking them to buy something.

Consumers want to buy from someone who knows what they are doing, especially in the case of a curated service or goods provider. And that’s why to turn the profitable online business ideas even more effective, you need to start offering free value on the site, with free products and content.

Having a blog is also another way of displaying your expertise. With specialized content on the industry, you can easily grab the attention of the audience. And once assured of your knowledge on the matter, consumers will feel a lot safer about making a purchase.

A Killer Customer Service Is Everything

Your small online business idea needs a better service option. Using AI-based interactive features to implement better support for the global consumer base will prove to be extremely beneficial. With a 24/7 automated support channel, customers will be satisfied with your business and come back more often.

It’s an Easy Process: All You Have to Do Is to Start

And there it is, the simple five-step process of starting an online business that is bound to succeed. If you look closely, you’ll notice that there are not a lot of differences between creating a physical business and an online one. The main differences are only in the consumer and competitive landscape.

While a physical store faces and caters to local competitors and consumers, the online business has to deal with the same on a global basis. So, focusing well on the global market landscape while crafting the plan will help you succeed.

More Tips on How to Start an Online Business

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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