15 Second Speed Read
Bob Cialdini is a social psychologist whose studies into how and why people behave is rather legendary. He’s authored several books on the topic of human behavior including his signature work – a book titled Persuasion. In another book Yes!, Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin present some incredibly valuable insights for anyone in business and who wants to stay in business in these challenging economic times.
Here are a few of their insights I found particularly valuable to consider and use:
Revealing Your Flaws Effectively
In one study, a business used three different advertising approaches. Version 1 was ‘all positive’. Version 2 revealed both positive and negative information but they were unrelated. Version 3 revealed both positive and negative information but they were related – e.g. “our restaurant has limited seating (negative) but it makes for a cozy atmosphere (positive).
Version 3 advertising was the most effective approach. If you want to build credibility with your market, reveal your flaws as well as promote your positive attributes but only those that have a relevant connection.
Training Staff To Make Better Customer Experiences
Contact with customers is a key role for your business. The people you count on to deliver a great experience must be capable of doing so. That’s where training comes in. But what kind of training is most likely to producing workers who can make ‘good decisions’ when needed to make your customers happy? Wendy Joung, a social scientist, wanted to know, too. She examined firefighters (good choice!) because their ability to make decisions under pressure is critical to performing and saving lives. Two groups of trainees were given lessons using case studies. In one, the trainees learned from cases where errors in judgment had deadly consequences. In the other, the case studies suggested how to make good decisions by citing how others had avoided the negative consequences of poor decisions. Post-training testing revealed firefighters who learned from the mistakes of others learned to make better decisions.
While being negative isn’t usually valued, in helping people appreciate – and learn – what is effective, showing how to avoid mistakes – and the consequences they bring – may make for a more effective training program for your employees and . . . a better experience for your customers and clients, too.
Bragging Without The Baggage
OK, your mother was right. You ARE the smartest kid in the room. And your business IS better than your competitors. But being that is one thing. Telling your prospects that can backfire on you. What to do? Another psychologist, Jeffrey Pfeffer did a study to find out. He compared the ‘credibility’ of an author based on whether people heard about a new book from the author or the agent. The people rated the book – and author – more favorably when someone other than the author was ‘pitching’ the book and writer. Sure, the agent – like the author – had a vested interest in getting a favorable perception of the book with the publisher. But that was less of an issue than the author delivering the same information himself.
Having a third-party introduce you, your business or your products and services is far more likely to sway prospects in a positive way than if you do it yourself. So whenever possible, find someone else to do the ‘pitching’ and you’ll be better for it!
Social Comparison Drives Most Decisions
In the world of marketing few things are as scientifically crafted as infomercials. They are art forms based heavily on science. Social science. Colleen Szot, a writer of these special marketing messages, changed three words and boosted her audience response rate significantly. In the usual ‘call-to-action’ section of most infomercials, you’ll hear “Operators are standing by, please call now”. Colleen changed that to “If operators are busy, please call back”. It seems contrary. “Call back if you can’t get through?”. It is. But it’s also communicating in a subtle way that, “Hey, this product is so popular that it may be hard to get through to an operator!”. As social creatures, we tend to take our cues from the behavior of others. This is no different. Rather than decrease response rates, this little change actually increased it! (I know, I hear this line being used in more and more infomercials, myself).
Social proof -- in the form of what others are doing (or, you are suggesting they’re doing) with your business, products and services -- may be far more effective in generating response to your marketing and boosting the perceived popularity of your products and services than you realize. Cite the actions of others, use their testimonials about benefits gained from working with you, invite contact with existing clients. Why? Because . . . social referencing . . . works! Use it.
Want more like these? Buy these books: Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and Yes! by Noah Goldstein and Steve Martin -- great summer reading!
Bill Doerr, Partner / Markitect at SellMore Marketing, LLC helps professionals and other service providers to market their problem-solving expertise simply, effectively and affordability. You can reach him online at SellMore Marketing, or by phone at 860-798-6964.
For more information, please visit Bill's TNNWC Bio.
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