Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. Influence, his  classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say "yes"— and how to apply these understandings. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.


But how do you draw on insights from this book to drive positive outcomes for your business through your content? Having read the book (several times) and applied them in real-life copywriting scenarios, here are 9 idea for you:


Reassure your visitors


Give your readers the rationale for your offering and you will more than likely have a positve result, assuming you have really understood their needs or desires. A good word to use here is 'because' which is your chance to really put forward a compelling value proposition to your prospects.



Repeat your message

This technique is a very powerful one, albeit one that could be diastrous if applied in the wrong way. The point here is increased consistency of message, which breeds confidence in the message and a good way to do this without annoying your reader is to say the same thing in different ways. A good Thesaurus will come in handy at this juncture, and you could do worse than sprinkle some pithy quotes into your content that concur with the point you are making.


Encourage commitment

A popular example of encouraging commitment is to offer a very low price eg £1.00  trial memberships which give a cautioius buyer the opportunity to experience an exclusive feature of your offering such as a members area. If they enjoy the experience they are allowed to remain in the exclusive area as a full price member for a short but defined period of time( Cialdini's Law of Scarcity).It is the uptake of the £1.00 membership which encourages then to make a coommitment towards your product or service and which may then lead to full paid membership. Another example is in the case of a small business selling a high value item which may meet with some resistance. You can offer the option of paying a small free up front with the balance settled by installments, or even to pay the entire amount in installments over a short period of time. This can be a highly persuasive technique especially if the perceived quality of the item is high. 

The commitment doesn't necessarily have to be on price. It can be whatever you, as the seller, are willing to accept as long as the prospect is willing to take some action and show they are serious about whatever it is you're selling. Once you have given them the opportunity to experience you're product/service, they then have a certain time-frame within which to make the full commitment. 


The lever of consistency

Robert Cialdini also refers to the human need to appear consistent with one's values ,beliefs and principles. You can use this to your advantage within your content by putting forward a widely accepted view, finding a link with your message backed up with proof and evidence and then linking back to the original widely accepted view. A very powerful technique if done well.


The Law of social proof

This technique looks at harnessing the power of herd behaviour in a way that is persuasive and credible. Again, it is a technique drawn from Cialdini's book on Influence and one that is very popular with bloggers in particular. The need to look to others for validation is a powerful one and which therefore shouldn't be ignored in your marketing strategy.

Real life examples of social proof are the laugh tracks often played on 1980s sitcoms which are supposedly there to help us join in with the laughter, or the jar for tips in the corner shop filled with 'coins' to stimulte your generosity!


Online we see social proof in the use of customer testinonials, social sharing buttons, if you do employ these strategies make sure that they are genuine testimonials, ideally expressed with a degree of skepticism followed by a strong and considered endorsement to increase the credibility of these testimonials.

A great way to use the law of social proof in your content is by presenting cases of how your product or service has solved a problem. This enables you to really harness your copy-writing skills by telling an engaging story in real-world language.


The Law of scarcity

In an early example above I referred to how you could encourage commitment by using the law of scarcity. Here's a fun one for you; Dr. Cialdini and his colleagues stated that when an advertisment tells you to call back if phone lines ' are busy' this expression of scarcity generates a greater response than when the phone lines are not busy! 

Closely linked with the law of scarcity- although not the same –  is the desire we have for exclusivity; a great way to meet this desire this is by offering it. For example, you could give people the opportunity to be part of a group that they will really value and want to be part of.


Use metaphors, similes and comparisons

You use a simile when you wish to  say that something is 'like' something else. So when you write that your most recent car "purrs like a cat", you are using a simile to express the efficient and smooth functioning of the engine. 

A Metaphor is a figurative comparison which is implied rather than introduced, such as  by the 'like' or 'as' qualification. For example  when you write that your chocolate 'melts in your mouth faster than you can say Namaste' this  expresses to your prospect just how fast melting the chocolate is, althogh it is an implied benefit  rather than made explicit. Both similes and metaphors are a great way to add sight and sound to your writing and increase interest as you relate your scenario to something your reader can accept as true. Perhaps one of the greatest users of Metaphors (in my view) is Tenessee Williams ; take this  short excerpt from The Rose Tattoo

" Time rushes toward us with its hospital tray of infinitely varied narcotics, even while it is preparing us for its inevitably fatal operation."

 A clever way to use comparisons is perversely, by comparing apples to bananas. In other words do not compare the price of your software programme to similar ones out there, instead compare it with the price of something very different, eg an hour's consultation with a specialist to increase uptake through the perception of greater value for money.


Feel the pain – then offer the solution

A great way to emphasise with your customer is to describe in full detail the effects of the problems they are experiencing, cost and consequences , before then moving on to your solution. The crucial caveat here is to really demonstrate your understanding of their problem.



Look to the future

What does your solution or offering mean to the customer, not just now but in the future? Can you extrapolate current events into future outcomes, backed up with proof or evidence? If you can, you are on to a winner.


What are the ways in which you use persuasive techniques in your content? Email us to let us know!

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Ihubbusiness is an information hub for small businesses who wish to learn about internet marketing. The site was founded by Lola Bailey in 2010. Lola is a member of the Institute of Digital Marketing and has over 20 years sales and marketing experience. She is also a full-time copywriter at www.write-upcommunications.co.uk, a copywriter consultancy which she founded. Email: editor@ihubbusiness.co.uk

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