Book Review: Influence (The Power of Persuasion For Busy People)

It’s all around us but we rarely call it out: persuasion.

A conversation with a colleague who’s trying to change your opinion on Donald Trump’s decision to raise international tariffs.

A TED talk that tries to explain how being vulnerable is powerful both in your personal and professional life.

A Facebook ad that wants you to sign-up to rent your new Subaru on Turo and make an income on the side.

If there is one big takeaway I learned from Robert Cialdini’s classic, Influence, it’s that anyone can use the tools of influence to market themselves and get a prospective customer to make a move.

The concept of influence, although defined as to affect or alter by indirect or intangible ways, can be distilled to 6 actionable principles for any person or more importantly, resource-strapped startup:

  • Reciprocity: the urge to return favors & acts of kindness
  • Commitment & Consistency: to want to be consistent, so to feel congruent
  • Social Proof: to think a behavior is normal if others are seen doing it as well
  • Liking: to become more agreeable if the audience likes the individual
  • Authority: to wield more influence if you appear credible and reputable
  • Scarcity: to perceive a person or item as more valuable if it’s seen as finite

The beauty of Robert’s writing is that he provides hundreds of real-world examples and variations of how each principle is leveraged.

Hence, a startup with a limited or inexistent marketing budget is capable of leveraging each one of these so to reach their customer base. As a way to spur ideas and tactics, here some valuable tactics:

Reciprocity

  • Provide valuable tips and tricks through a blog or newsletter
  • Create and give away branded swag
  • “Freemium” versions of software or services

Commitment & Consistency

  • Get commitment to try a beta or “trial” version of your product
  • Suggest relevant & valuable add-ons after they trial the product
  • Get someone to fill out an intent form or watch a 90-second video

Social Proof

  • Mention how may customers you have or follow you on a social channel
  • Include “like” buttons, testimonials, or reviews on your site
  • Showcase case studies of companies (i.e. past customers)

Liking

  • Get involved in your industry and be candidly outgoing & likable
  • Hire brand ambassadors who can be the face of your company
  • Have a “win-win” mindset in negotiations and partnerships

Authority

  • Apply for and showcase awards earned (no, they don’t just fall in your lap)
  • Do 5+ public speaking engagements and conferences
  • Hire seasoned executives, alumni of Ivy league schools, and MBA graduates

Scarcity

  • Create & communicate a “limited quantity” of your product
  • Create a real or imaginary deadline
  • Reach out to relevant reporters & provide exclusive company updates

Next time you’re considering how to engage and influence your next prospective customers, consider leveraging one of these tactics or principles.

Thousands of marketers and founders have read this book & hundreds of companies have used the principles in this book, should you too?

~JK

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