Sales · · 6 min read

7 Principles of Persuasion Used in Sales and Marketing

These 7 principles of persuasion can help brands connect with their audience and prospects on a deeper, subconscious level, yielding impressive results.

principals of persuasion

Convincing people is the heart of both sales and marketing. Every time someone makes a decision on a purchase, they are persuaded to act in one way or another. These tactics and methods can be distilled into principles of persuasion. 30 years ago, Dr. Robert Cialdini coined 7 principles in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

In this article, we’re going to share Cialdini’s insights into the principles of persuasion. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have actionable takeaways that can be applied to your next campaigns.

  • The 7 Principles of Persuasion explained.
  • Applying persuasion principles to your marketing and sales campaigns.
  • Using principles of persuasion for brand success.

Persuasion Marketing Through Principles of Persuasion

What is it that makes potential customers say “Yes”? How can we encourage someone to take action or persuade them toward conversion? The answer comes in the form of the 7 principles of persuasion. There’s a significant amount of psychology embedded into each one.  Scientific marketers or salespeople can leverage them to guide prospects through to conversion.

We don’t live in a world where everyone carefully considers the pros and cons of the available information for each purchase. Far from it. Therefore, we cannot expect prospects to wade through every piece of content related to our products or services. Instead, we need to use some shortcuts to nudge them to conversion.

persuasive sales

Principle of Persuasion 1: Reciprocity

If you give something to me, I’ll give something to you. This is the basis of reciprocity. People innately feel indebted to you if you give them something. Even if that something is a product or service. The reciprocity principle is the basis of almost all referral marketing schemes. If you offer a free trial, people are far more inclined to purchase as they feel as if they got something for free.

The key to a successful reciprocity campaign is to ensure that you are the one who gives first. You want to be in a situation where the prospect feels they owe you.

Some of the most successful reciprocity campaigns are limited. That means only certain members of your audience will have access. That could include current subscribers or previous customers. This also gives you a great opportunity to include precise personalization. The more you can make the individual feel they have a direct connection with your brand, the greater the impact of the reciprocity principle.

Principle of Persuasion 2: Commitment and Consistency

Humans like routine and predictability. When it comes to marketing and sales, there’s no difference. If you’re able to adhere to consistent practices and commit to a schedule, people will respond well. Many people will actively avoid making a choice, instead settling into a comfortable routine with little chaos.

The principle relies on this human foundation. It understands that there comes a point where people use your product or service without thinking.

Customers respond well to commitment and consistency, and so do digital platforms. Social media algorithms tend to reward regular posters. This is especially true when they see their followers engaging often.

Successful campaigns use commitment and consistency. They do so through brand loyalty, instant brand recognition, superb customer service, and a quality customer engagement strategy. Building consistency takes discipline but pays dividends. 

You can encourage the commitment side of the principle by asking customers to outwardly state their commitment to you. This is often why you’ll hear cashiers asking, “Do you have your {brand name} loyalty card?” This is a show of commitment from the customer and builds brand recognition.

Principle of Persuasion 3: Social Proof

There are few people in the world who are willing to be guinea pigs. They want to know if the product or service they’re purchasing is tried and tested. That’s why, once you start looking for it, social proof is everywhere.

Star system reviews have been in use for decades and are embedded into platforms across the world. It’s one of the most influential buying signals that a brand can display to customers.

Social proof is more than just a star rating. Testimonials allow prospects to understand what it might be like to become a customer. They get to hear it from someone who is in the same situation they are.

Brands that leverage social proof successfully draw on it from a number of different avenues. That includes thought leaders in their space, industry experts, and their customers. The aim is that if a prospect does research into your product or brand, they quickly find other people talking positively about it.

Principle of Persuasion 4: Liking

If we like and trust someone, we are far more likely to purchase from them. This might be a simple tenet, but it’s also vital. Building a rapport with prospects is essential to marketing and sales success.

This principle certainly applies to brands, but it is closely linked to social proof. If a friend or family member recommends something to us, we are far more likely to make a purchase simply because we trust and like the person.

Brands need prospects and customers to like them so that they purchase and become loyal customers. They can achieve that through:

  • Physical attraction: Great quality packaging and branding.
  • Similarity: Act in a similar way to the audience in tone and voice.
  • Compliments: Massage the audience’s ego, and they’ll like you more.
  • Conditioning and association: Hold and engage with the same values as your prospects and customers.

Principle of Persuasion 5: Authority

People look for leaders. If a brand can be that leader and authority, purchases will quickly follow. When someone finds an expert they can trust, they quickly begin to align their own thinking with the expert’s.

Presenting as an authority takes effort and experience. Brands need to coordinate their presentation and content accordingly. That means ensuring that important messages are delivered by authority figures. Online presences should portray professionalism and expertise.

If a brand is relatively new or has little experience, it can still present authority. They can do so by mimicking what successful actors in the space do and backing up any claims they make with concrete facts and evidence.

Principle of Persuasion 6: Scarcity

Scarcity is one of the most commonplace principles of persuasion, especially in eCommerce. Wherever you see that there is a flash sale, a limited-time offer, or that stock is running low, that brand is employing the scarcity principle.

Scarcity and FOMO are one and the same. If someone feels that they’re about to miss out on a product, service, or offer, they’re more likely to act. 

For the scarcity principle to work, it has to be legitimate. You cannot have a flash sale every single day. Nor can your stock always be about to run out. People will quickly distrust you and disengage.

Brands can create scarcity by truly limiting supply. This can be only for a short time. It creates short windows for prospects to act and a competitive atmosphere.

This principle is often one that audiences distrust the most, but when delivered in a legitimate way, it can create a real buzz around a product. That’s especially true when a successful purchaser shares their success with their network. That builds further social proof.

Principle of Persuasion 7: Unity

There’s a deep-seated need for humans to be part of something bigger than themselves. We want to belong and connect with others. That could be on an individual level or a much higher societal level. 

If a brand is able to successfully create a community around its brand, then the unity principle comes into action. The idea is that your audience is one. One with each other, but also with your brand.

Unity comes in different forms. Some brands gain such popularity that their customers become part of the community simply by wearing or using the products. Other brands create vision-based goals through philanthropy or environmentalism. Visions that customers can align themselves with.

Before You Go

The principles of persuasion are as useful in email marketing campaigns as in any other marketing. Leave the logistics of your email to Instantly. Then, you can prioritize your messaging. From AI-powered warm-up to automated sequencing, sending email campaigns is straightforward with Instantly. Get started today.

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And remember, the 7 principles of persuasion listed above aren’t just actionable tips and tricks. These principles go much deeper than that. They’re embedded into people’s psyches. If brands can make these subconscious connections with their audience, then success will quickly follow.

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