In his world renowned book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, Robert Cialdini, the ‘Godfather of Influence’, talked about what you should put INTO a message to increase the likelihood people would want it. When Robert wrote his book “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade”, it changed the game…
“Pre-Suasion” is about what you say or do in the moment BEFORE you deliver your Message that makes people even MORE receptive to your message. In behavioral science there is research around priming, framing, positioning, anchoring, and so on. All of this came together for Robert in terms of what the research was implying about how you AMPLIFY THE EFFECT of your Message. You can become even more persuasive when you focus on what you do BEFORE you send any message.
It involves creating a focus in your Audience they are yet to experience. Meaning, they haven’t encountered it yet.
You are making them open and receptive to it BEFORE they encounter it.
Here’s an example: Say you’re selling a new Product or Service. People may be hesitant to try something new or unfamiliar to them. They may want to stay in their comfort zone… But you have a great new Product or Service!
How do you persuade them to try it?
One approach might be to say to people: “We have this new product. Nobody has used it before. Would you be willing to give us your email address right now? We’ll send you the information so you can get this new product.”
This is risky. Imagine someone you don’t know approaches you in this unsolicited manner and asks you for your email. Many people, under these circumstances, would be unwilling to give their email. Now imagine saying to people: “Do you consider yourself an adventurous person?”
People will think for a moment attempting to recall times they were adventurous. Why? Because “adventure” is the question they are now engaged with based on your question. Nearly everybody will engage with this.
Then what? Then you can bring up the ‘new product nobody has used before’ as people will be more receptive to it. Why? Because of what came BEFORE it; A focus on “adventure”. In fact, this is EXACTLY what Robert found in his research. He found that without Pre-Suasion, 30% of people would give their email address. With Pre-Suasion, 75.6% provided their email.
Another study shows if a wine shop owner plays German music for a particular time of the day, people buy more German vintages. If the shop owner plays more French music, people buy more French vintages. The customers are put in a German or French state of mind and will behave in ways that are aligned with that state of mind.
If you want to become more persuasive:
- Identify the STRONGEST element of your Message; The thing that if people say ‘yes’ to it, would make it most wise for them since they will benefit.
- Reverse engineer the persuasion process to the moment BEFORE you describe or present it. This aligns peoples’ consciousness and sense of who they are with the strength of that message.
Lastly, a caveat: When you understand these Pre-Suasion strategies, Robert says to only use them in ETHICAL ways.
When you use influence attempts in dishonest, deceptive, unethical ways, you end up attracting people around you who are comfortable with dishonesty and cheating… and guess what? They end up cheating YOU. As Robert says, “You’ve pulled the viper under your coat.” Always be ethical when it comes to influence and persuasion.
by Joe Polish
Founder of Genius Network
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