Understanding the Art of Persuasion

Everyday different persuasion techniques are used by us and on us to persuade a successful outcome in our favor. Listed below are a few of the top persuasion techniques, their definitions, and an example for clear understanding.

*Foot-in-the-door: A small request is made, and adhered to, only for a larger request to present itself. For example, you are asked if you would like to enter a raffle for $500. You fill out the little slip at which point you are told you will be receiving the Detroit Free Press for the next month free of charge, than it will cost $30 a month thereafter. The point of the foot-in-the-door method is, if you want to get someone to do something, start small before moving big.

Here’s a video that illustrates the impact of the foot-in-the-door tactic in 59 seconds

*That’s-not-all: The initial proposal is made but then many bonuses are added to the original offer to sweeten the deal. For example, you see an ad for a car wax which is minimally interesting but suddenly they add car deodorizer and interior wipes- free of charge!

*Scarcity: Making the offer for a limited time or limited quantity only to persuade the buyer into making a snap decision before the opportunity passes them by. For example, you see a commercial that says there are only 1000 more of this amazing weight loss program being sold to the public. Act now, or the ship will have sailed on this offer!

 There are certain characteristics that make up the persuader, the message, and the audience to make the persuasion most effective. The persuader should possess credibility, attractiveness, and likability.

Credibility has two parts which are expertise and trustworthiness. One study done at Oklahoma State University revealed that higher levels of expertise and trustworthiness resulted in increased persuasion and successful coercion. Other characteristics are physical attractiveness and likeability.

It has been found that attractiveness can truly heighten the likelihood of a successful persuasion, as can being persuaded by someone who is likeable. Studies have shown that most people automatically assign intelligence and honesty to an attractive person therefore making them more trustworthy. Likeability is a factor that people are drawn to also. You may not buy something for someone you do not know but you will certainly buy that very same item if your neighbor were to be the salesman. You already know and like him as a person which strengths the trust between you.

The message of persuasion should appeal to one’s emotion, such as guilt, or fear, or happy feelings. For example, when an infomercial shows you rags to riches stories of people who were just like you and now they are living carefree on the beaches of Cabo, driving a red sports car, alongside their model wife, you feel hope and good feelings swell within your chest. All you have to do is buy their instructional CD’s of how to deal in real estate and all this could be yours!

The message could also contain framing which is a message that stresses the loss or gain that will happen if you do/do not buy into the persuasion. Gain-framed messages outline the gains you will receive while the loss framing outlines the losses that could occur. For example, if you buy Rogaine, you will gain a full head of real hair! This is considered a gain-framed message. A message showing a pregnant teen, poverty stricken, with no boyfriend, or place to stay is a loss framed message focused on all that you will lose if you are to become pregnant as a teen.

The audience for which a message is intended is a precise target based on culture, age, and self-esteem. Culture plays an important role based upon the fact that there are independent and interdependent cultures that respond quite differently to unique variables.  Those from the independent cultures tend to focus on individual gain whereas interdependent cultures adhere to what is best for their community as a whole.

Age may depend on if the person is a young adult open to new experiences or older adults who seem to have less memory capacity and therefor will latch on to quick cues given by the persuader.

Self-esteem is always a factor because those with lower self-esteem are easier to give into a persuasive message yet less receptive to retaining the message than someone with high self-esteem. Those with high self-esteem are less likely to give into a persuasion as they are more secure in their thinking/beliefs and are not persuaded easily to think differently.

Read precursor: How to Master the Craft of Corporate Gift Giving in Business

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