In Robert Cialdini’s ‘Influence – the psychology of persuasion’ he takes us on a journey that shows just how many of our behaviours are subject to automatic programming. What he describes as a ‘ Click-Whirr’ response. Whether you like it or not, you don’t always have a choice in how you react – even when you don’t want to react in a certain way, you still feel that you have to.

The book uncovers ‘six weapons of influence‘. As an experimental social psychologist his job is to prove or disprove reasons for our behaviours. He lists a fantastic catalogue of stories that really leave you wondering if you have any control over what you do at all!

As a marketer in your business, you’d do well to understand what’s going on in your customers’ and prospects’ minds – and how you can make it more certain that they will take the actions that you want them to take. I’m sure we’ve always wondered why some people find it so much easier to sell their products and services – and why we, or others struggle. Over the next few blogs I’ll be going through his six weapons and looking at the evidence that he shares on …

• Reciprocation
• Commitment and consistency
• Social proof
• Liking
• Authority
• and scarcity

But let’s start out by understanding better the automated ‘click-whirr’ response.

You get what you pay for …
In one example, he spoke of a friend who has an Indian jewellery shop in Arizona. Despite her best efforts, her ‘turquoise’ range was not selling. Going away for a few days, she left a note to her staff to sell them at half price. One her return she discovered that the range had sold out – only the staff had misread her note, thinking she wanted them to DOUBLE the cost. Click-whirr! You get what you pay for. Expensive equals good.

Can I just push in here … ?
Queuing for a copier machine in a library, he set up an experiment where individuals went to the front and asked if they could push in …

Scenario 1… When they asked “Excuse me, I have five pages – may I use the copier?” – only 60% of people allowed them to push in. So a fair percentage were happy to say ‘no!’.

Scenario 2… When they asked “Excuse me, I have five pages – may I use the copier because I’m in a rush?” – 94% of people allowed them to push in. In other words, when a ‘reason’ was given, pretty much every one said ‘yes!’.

Scenario 3 … However, when they asked, “Excuse me, I have five pages – may I use the copier because I’m have to make some copies?” – 93% of people still allowed them to push in.

No valid ‘reason’ is being given in this final example – the words after ‘because’ add no more information than the words before ‘because’. In this case, it seems that the Click-Whirr response is triggered purely by the presence of ‘because’. We simply don’t have a choice.

Makes you think eh? Next week, all about reciprocity and getting people feeling the need to repay the favours you do for them.