How To Leverage Cialdini’s Principles Of Influence If You Own A Small Business

Everyone wants to own a business or become their own boss. At least, in my world that seems to be the case. With the rise of cost living, many people turn to alternative sources of income to sustain their lifestyle.  My Facebook wall is full of people promoting their products and services.

I’ve had friends who sell pastries, teach in workshops, conduct make-up classes, and recently, making YouTube videos! Some also turn to food delivery services, among them, yours truly.

In my previous article, I talked about 3 out of 6 Cialdini’s principle that I detected in Vivy’s marketing strategies. Today, let’s apply the remaining 3 principles for small to medium businesses. Before we discuss further, let’s get to know the man himself, Dr. Robert Cialdini.

Who is Dr Robert Cialdini?

If John B Watson is real father of advertising, Dr Robert Cialdini is the “Godfather of Influence”. He is a widely recognized American psychologist. He developed his theory of influence based on years of research going undercover to observe behavior in the real settings.

His 1984 book (Influence: Science & Practice) is a bestseller and has sold millions of copies in 30 different languages. Recently, he added a 7th principle to his theory and coined it as “unity”. Dr Robert Cialdini has worked with global brands as consultants. These include Google, Coca-Cola, Kodak, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco Systems and KPMG.

The question here is can his principles be applied to small to medium businesses? My answer is why not? That is the beauty of his theory; it has universal applicability to different situations and settings. Believe me; you can even use these principles when courting a potential partner (if done right, of course)!

The first step is to understand what each principle means.

  1. Liking: The core of this principle is that we tend to like people who are similar with us. People are more likely to say yes to you and your products and services if they like you. The reason is that people are tuned to be in their comfort zones and they want something that is familiar and similar to their interests and values. It can also be simply because you are attractive. Who doesn’t like beautiful people?
  2. Consistency and Commitment: This principle is quite easy to comprehend. People are more like to be more consistent in their behavior once they publicly commit to their decision. In other words, this tactic is telling you to make others commit themselves to decisions so that they are more willing to be influenced by you.
  3. Reciprocity: The last principle centers on the fact that people will buy your product or subscribe to your services if you give them something in return or vice versa. Why? Because we are naturally wired to return favors given to us, no matter how big or small they may be.

How can these 3 principles be applied to real-life businesses? Easy-peasy.

Situation 1:  I am a writer for Marketing in Asia magazine. My articles are published on the website for you to read and educate yourself. At the same time, I am looking for regular readers that love my articles that in turn ensure regular traffic to the site. What do I do?

Applying the liking principle: One way to apply this principle is via copywriting. Naturally, we use other social media platforms to promote our content, right? I promote my articles in my professional and personal platforms. At the same time, I am also utilising our people’s platform like Marketing In Asia magazine to promote my articles. They will help me with traffics, swinging them back to my personal sites. The best part is, the people I connect with are exactly the people they have similar values to me: our love for Psychology.

What about other businesses? Well, utilize storytelling techniques in your social media accounts to make your audience like you and resonate with you. If you are a fitness instructor, tell them a story about how regular exercise has changed your life. If you are a makeup guru, tell your audience why makeup is important to you and establish your sense of makeup style that speaks to your audience.

Situation 2:  I own a food business. I deliver healthy food options to people around the Klang Valley. I am looking to gain new customers. What do I do?

Applying the commitment principle:  One way to apply this principle is to actively seek those who already made a commitment to lead a healthier style. A ‘worrisome’ but highly advantageous trend is people post everything on social media. I mean literally, EVERYTHING. When they eat, when they sleep, when they exercise, etc. I suggest that you find people who are committed to living a healthy lifestyle online and propose an appealing preposition that they are less likely to reject.

Situation 3: Remember the food business in the other example? I have a real business in mind. @dietsedap is a healthy food business that delivers healthy dishes to its customers. Let’s say, I am the owner of @dietsedap and I saw this post. I would think, oh wow, this is free marketing. What did I do to deserve this, I must find a way to give something back to the writer. What do I do?

Applying the reciprocity principle: I contact the writer of this post to thank her for the mention. I then offer her a free lunch package for 7 days *hint hint*. Just kidding!

Alternatively, the principle of reciprocity can also go both ways. Companies apply this principle by giving free gifts and consultations when people buy their products so that customers will come back for more!

Now that you understand these principles, try and cleverly apply to your businesses. If you want to know how to apply these principles to your love life, hit me up!

In the meantime, read the first 3 principles here:  Vivy Yusof: Pure Genius or Purely Strategy?

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