influence marketingLet’s talk about influence marketing. Influence is the ability to convince other’s or have an effect on their decisions. In marketing, we want to be able to influence the customer’s buying decision, ultimately, right? We want to have an effect on their decision to do business with us.

Hopefully you’ve heard of the very famous book by Robert Cialdini, a psychology professor, that was written in 1984 called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. It’s probably the best book every written on the subject and in that book, Cialdini outlines six principles of influence.

This book was written from research Cialdini did with various focus groups as he immersed himself in the world of salespeople, fundraisers, recruiters, advertisers and marketers. He chose this approach because these are the people who are skilled in the art of convincing and influencing people.

Here are the six principles of Influence according to Cialdini:

1) Reciprocity – we are wired to return favors and pay back our debts. We really don’t like feeling indebted, it makes us uncomfortable. This is the concept behind a Hare Krishna giving away flowers in the street in return for donations.

2) Commitment – Because we have a need to be consistent, when we actually commit to something, we are far more likely to follow through. For example, getting a prospect to commit to giving you 5 minutes of their time upfront will most often ensure that you get an uninterrupted five minutes.

3) Social Proof – This speaks to our belief that there’s safety in numbers. So we are more likely to wait to eat in a busy restaurant than try the empty restaurant next door.  Or we buy the product that has over a hundred 4 star reviews rather than the product that has only 2 five star reviews.

4) Liking – This one is pretty easy to understand. We are more likely to be influenced by someone we like. Simple.

5) Authority – We respect authority and feel a sense of duty or obligation to people we perceive to have authority. That’s why drug commercials feature a doctor or moms in advertisements pitch products bought by moms.

6) Scarcity – We are influenced by the belief that availability is limited or we could lose an opportunity if we don’t make a decision soon.

Those are the six principles of Influence and as promised I want to give you an action step you can take TODAY to use this information in your business.

You may think I’m getting ready to give you examples of how to employ these six principles in your marketing so you can influence more prospects to become paying customers. And while that’s a great and upright use of this information, that’s not what I’m going to do.

Instead, I want you to learn and consider these six principles of influence marketing when you are approached by a company salesperson asking you to spend money on your business marketing with their company or service.

Ah, you weren’t expecting that were you?

Let me give you some examples. When the Yellow Pages or Val Pak sales rep shows up and wants you to advertise in their product, don’t fall victim to the herd mentality of social proof. Just because your competitors may be spending marketing dollars on this particular resource, doesn’t mean you need to. Truly evaluate the opportunity without feeling pressure from the influence of social proof.

When a sales rep from a print or digital media publication offers you the opportunity to be the only business in your niche to get an advertising spot in their publication, don’t be swayed by scarcity. You must weigh the actual benefits of advertising in the publication. What is their open rate? What historical statistics can they provide on ROI.  So what if they have an email list of 100 thousand in your local market if only 1% actually open the email? Is this list truly represent your target market, because if not, the 1000 people who actually opened the email won’t care that you’re advertising, they’re not interested in your business or service.

What I want you to do is to create a marketing budget that you can live with ahead of time, and decide exactly how you want to allocate that budget; I suggest having at least a quarterly budget. Then analyze if an opportunity actually falls within your budget that quarter, does it meet your pre-determined needs. Don’t say yes to an opportunity because you feel a rapport with the sales rep – because you’ve just been influenced by the Liking principle. If you set your parameters ahead of time, you will be able to make decisions based on facts, dollars and percentages, and not influence marketing principles.