809 Words of Advice From a Persuasion Genius

Robert Cialdini wrote one of the most important books for marketers called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and it has sold over 3 million copies and been on best-seller lists and most-recommended resources for over three decades.

Thirty-two years after his magnum opus, Robert's written a new book called Pre-Suasion and he was recently on The James Altucher Show to talk about it.

Here are some of my notes from their conversation that I jotted down last Saturday while on a flight back to Honolulu.


The seven aspects of influence:

  1. Reciprocity– when someone buys you lunch or gives you a gift, naturally you want to return the favor. Influence talks about how the hare krishnas increased donations significantly by first giving people a flower.
  2. Likability – one way is to embrace your products shortcomings, basically point out flaws and it provides the person a signal that you're trustworthy.
  3. Consistency – requesting a favor of a person and then they subconsciously thnk that "oh, I am the type of person that does a favor for Mr. Tucker".
  4. Social Proof – We see this every day in web products with the "5-star ratings", and "most popular" type recommendations at restaurants.
  5. Authority – Impressive titles or accomplishments like "NYT Best Seller". This includes the commonly seen "Chef's Choice" gambit at restaurants.
  6. Scarcity – "just 10 items left in stock!" and "It's the only car like it left on the lot".
  7. Unity – We have certain things in common, I'm just like you because [insert affinity theme here].

Quick note on all this... these are powerful tools to be aware of, and employ when communicating your products value to your audience.

Integrity is of paramount importance.

The reality is, to build the best product, you have to understand the psychological triggers, biases, and motivations of your customers.

This comes through study, research, interviews, and testing.

Another reason to understand these persuasion techniques is for ourselves as consumers - so we know when they're being deployed against us.

So, with that, enjoy reading my notes below (all 809 words! :). I also encourage you to listen and take your own notes as well, for I'm sure I missed some great stuff!

Persuasion Tidbits and Conversation Nuggets from Robert Cialdini and James Altucher:

Put pictures of people who are characteristic of the audience you are writing for behind your computer when you're writing, it will make you more empathetic and focused on your reader.

In a job interview, ask them "why did you bring me in today?" They'll then say nice things about you and convince themselves of your worth.

Don't add multiple persuasion tactics, if it's overt and people see them as devices then it's a negative result.

Studies show, personalized gifts / customized are best.

... Even more powerful is when you align your gift with their current set of circumstances.

How to gain influence in a negotiation: Ask for advice, recognize they're smart.

Give people a reputation to live up to.

People who write down what time they were going to come to the doctor, were more likely to show up to their appointment than those that just checked a box.

Use positive reinforcement: "95% of people show up to their appointments" is proven more effective then saying "5% of people don't show up, so don't be like them and cost us money".

You are giving them something to aspire too and play to unity and inclusiveness to be like the other 95 people, not the 5.

Social proof incredibly important in selling... shows the shortcut ‘someone else did the research, etc.’

Two must haves:

  • Authority (chef's choice / staff picks)
  • Social proof (most popular / NYT best seller)

Pre suasion is creating an environment where people are more likely to buy...

Study of men who asked random women for their phone number on the street. They got a significantly better reply when they asked the girl when they were standing in front of a flower shop.

The environment impacts our decision-making lense.

Put authority information at the top of your ad or web page! Use imagery associated with authority.

[sidenote: Robert tells a crazy story in the "Authority" chapter of Influence about the study that was done with nurses submitting to a "doctor" authority title when a stranger called the hospital and barked instructions to them to give a certain patient a potentially lethal dose of a drug - despite the ridiciulousness of the scenario, 95% of the nurses did what the random man on the phone told them to do.]

Avis ad campaign: Increased market share 700%… They said, "We're #2 but we try harder"...

Become trustworthy AND knowledgeable

Listing the negatives is a powerful technique...

Warren Buffet does this in his annual letter to shareholders with incredible mastery. It's disarming every time... "We made this mistake".. I believe the next thing he says to me - and that's where he puts the strength of the last year.

Be really forthcoming with people, not trying to maintain superiority. Achieves likability and trustworthiness.

Warren Buffet stated, "This is what I have told my family" and he goes on to say, "Believe in Berkshire."

And I do.

Sales or negotiating tip: "Let me tell you what I would say to you if you were my brother"...

Another version of unity is friends. In a negotiation scenario say, "let's forget we're doing a transaction, friend to friend, this is what I would do..."

Family though is more powerful than friends. It plays on the most important recognizable bond of unity.

Fear versus greed... Fear wins out.

People are much more averse to loss than winning.

"I would not stay up all of one night to make $100; but I would stay up all of seven nights to keep from losing it." - Chauncey Depew

People will fight much harder to avoid losing something they already own than to gain something of greater value that they do not own.

In conditions of uncertainty, when people are unsure or unfamiliar or feel unprotected... They're more concerned about losing out.

Sales copy brainstorming... Things are changing, there's never been a time like this currently on the planet. So much information, stimulus saturated, things are always in flux.... We have particular ways to deal with this uncertainty. They are unique to our analysis and approach and we would hate for you to not take advantage of these things. Don't forgo our unique opportunity.

Long sales letters better than short - an authority technique.

PreSuasion, 7 influences : how to decide what to do?

  • Look at the situation, know what is your strength? The feature of your message that is most wise For the person to use

  • Before you send the message, send them some sort of queue with authority ... Do it with an adage at the top of your email or something...

  • Expertise developed over time... Choose a saying that will be your strength

  • What is your strength? Optimize attention to it (pre suasion, like the email quote example) and then you highlight that in your message

  • Decide which of the 7 persuasion factors are right to use

Be scrupulously honest and don't be like Nicky, Will Smith's conman character in the movie Focus:

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