How to market literally anything

Today I stumbled across a fantastic video from Codeable about marketing. More specifically, it's about how to persuade people to take advantage of your business' services and products. (Plus, their drawn fast motion video is a pretty captivating format.)

If you aren't in a position to watch an 11 minute video right now, here is a recap with a few of my additions:

There are 6 principles in the science of persuasion. Boiled down to single words, the principles are: Reciprocity, Scarcity, Authority, Consistency, Liking & Consensus. But what do these mean, practically speaking?

1. Reciprocity

The most effective way to apply the principle of reciprocity: Someone makes a move to buy your service or product, and at the moment of purchase, you provide them with an unexpected and personalized gift. This eliminates any doubt they might have about the integrity of your service/product and reinforces their desire to work with you, since you are so clearly a nice person.

Example: In restaurants, if the waiter brings the bill with a single mint per diner, his tips increase by 3% on average. If the waiter brings the bill with two mints per diner, his average tips increase by 14%. But, incredibly, if the waiter offers two mints per diner and also points out, "For you special people, I have brought a gift that is above and beyond what I normally bring my clients," the waiter's tips increase by an average of 23%!

2. Scarcity

The principle of scarcity is what makes potential buyers believe that your service or product is unique and in limited supply, and that as a result, they need it desperately and immediately. (In dating, you could say that the principle of scarcity is what we call playing hard to get.)

In business, it means directly informing buyers that there is an opportunity cost to not buying your product. In other words: let your buyers know all the things they will lose out on without your product. Advertisers call this strategy defining the product's unique selling point (USP). It means not only touting the benefits of your service/product, but also making clear the disadvantages of not buying your service/product.

Example: An airline announces it will be discontinuing a flight between New York and London because it has become uneconomical. Nothing else changes: the price of the flight, the onboard service, the speed of the journey. Yet the next day, sales for that particular flight hit the roof. This is simply because people want more of things they can have less of.

3. Authority

When you help potential clients feel they are working with an expert (that's you), you are applying the principle of authority. Ideally, this principle does not condone bragging... it is possible to exude authority subtly. What can you do, as a service or product provider, to exude authority rather than come off as arrogant or presumptive? My first grade teacher taught me that persuasive arguments will show, not tell the message they want to convey. People are more likely to pay attention to your message if you provide evidence that you have put work in to get to where you are.

Example 1: A psychologist displays his/her diploma, certificates and awards on the wall to reinforce to clients that this service is coming from a person who has been recognized for his/her accomplishments already. Clients feel confident that they are getting value for the dollars they spend on therapy.

Example 2: A small non-profit is starting up and needs to collect donations from complete strangers. The non-profit employs a designer to create a logo and brand, applies the brand to all marketing materials, and then approaches potential donors. Donors trust that their money is going to a legitimate organization and are willing to donate more money, more frequently.

4. Consistency

The principle of consistency is all about getting buyers to come back and make bigger commitments because their initial experience with you was positive. A little poem to help you remember: Get a foot in the door / Before asking for more. (Did that help?)

The ideal type of commitment from your buyers will be (1) Voluntary; (2) Active; (3) Public; and (4) In writing. These qualities keep your deals consensual, which is something your brand (and you, as a human being with integrity) should value.

(By the way, if you're interested in learning more about how consensual advertising can be good for business, check out this blog post from freelance advertising guru/full stack web developer Lucas Moore.)

Example 1: In one scenario, ask a neighborhood to put up a 2 x 3 foot sign in their yards for a "Remember to Drive Safely" campaign Only a few are willing to take you up, even though the vast majority agree that it is important to drive safely. In a new scenario, imagine you ask the neighborhood to put a small postcard in their front windows with the exact same message. Many people agree to do so. Then, come back to this neighborhood a few weeks later and ask them to place the 2 x 3 foot sign in their yards from the first scenario. This time, measurably more people will accept than in the first scenario because (1) they have already make a voluntary, public commitment to show support for the campaign, and they placed the signs themselves (this is the active commitment).

Example 2: Other factors remaining equal, a company can see an 18% drop in missed appointments when clients fill out their upcoming appointment information (time, date, contact information) on an appointment card, rather than the receptionists doing this activity for them.

5. Liking

The fifth aspect of the science of persuasion is the principle of liking. Putting this principle into practice just requires that you remember that potential buyers seek to work with (1) People who are similar to them; (2) People who compliment them; and (3) People who cooperate with them. True, these are manners we begin learning in kindergarten. But they apply to more than just social situations.

Example: When people in a study were told to negotiate a deal working with the paradigm that Time=Money, only 50% of participants came to an agreement. When negotiation time was increased to allow time for personal exchange unrelate to the deal, 90% of participants came to an agreement of 18% more value than the Time=Money group.

6. Consensus

And finally, the principle of consensus suggests that people are more likely to participate in your campaigns and buy your service/product when they feel convinced that other people have done/are doing the same. This is especially effective when they feel convinced that other people who are similar to them have collaborated or done business with you.

Example: In your hotel, you place a sign that says, "Reusing your towels will help protect our environment." Pointing out this benefit does, indeed, result in an increase in people deciding (or remembering) to reuse their towels during an extended hotel stay. However, we know that during an extended stay, 75% of your guests will reuse their towels anyway. Simply placing a sign with the information that "75% of our guests reuse their towels. Please do the same!" will result in an additional 26% compliance increase. Furthermore (and let's disregard the potential creepiness of this statistic), placing a sign that says "75% of our guests from this very hotel room reuse their towels. Please do the same!" will increase compliance by 33%. This is because not only others, but similar others have complied with what you suggest.

And there you have it: the 6 principles of persuasion to help you design your next bulletproof marketing strategy. How can you apply each one of these to your line of business?