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How do you earn the loyalty of people who don’t quite trust you yet?
The fastest, most effective way is to make them commit to something (a statement, a stand, an identity), and stick to it.
This works by taking advantage of a mental shortcut we all use to simplify our decision-making.
We are given so many choices and decisions to make daily, so commitment and consistency make our lives easier by reducing the number of things we have to think about.
We just make a single decision, and use that as a reference for subsequent related choices.
In addition to being a mental shortcut, we also tend to view consistency as an attractive social trait. In a post by Dean Rieck, he mentions that consistent individuals are seen as rational, trustworthy, stable, and decisive. Dr. Cialdini has stated that it is usually associated with personal and intellectual strength.
Below are some examples of how the rule of commitment and consistency are used in marketing:
A. Ask your customers to start from small actions—so they’ll have to stick to it.
In Influence, Dr. Cialdini talks about how we judge others not by their thoughts, but by their actions.
The same applies when we look at ourselves.
In his words:
His behavior tells him about himself; it is a primary source of information about his beliefs and values and attitudes.
Once customers can be nudged into making seemingly insignificant choices and stands, it paves the way for marketers to offer bigger choices. These bigger offers might be met with lesser resistance, precisely because of the first small choice that they’ve made.
This is commonly known as the “Foot-in-the-door” technique: where a small request paves the way for compliance with larger subsequent requests.
In this pop-up, visitors are given a choice: either get the conversion guide or be silly and choose the inefficient path.
This reverse-psychology situation nudges visitors who click ‘Yes’ to see themselves as smart people who know what’s good for them.
In the future, when ConversionXL sends them emails encouraging them to sign-up for their services because it’s the ‘smarter choice’, these customers might feel like they have to sign up.
After all, they are ‘smart people’, right? (Of course, it helps a ton that ConversionXL's content is incredibly well-researched and full of useful, actionable insights.)
This approach works in a similar way.
Although it is simply asking for a name and an email address, it's strengthened by emphasizing that you'll be joining a large group of people just like you, and doing what that group of people is already doing.
'Don't miss out!'
Actions seem a lot smaller when everybody else is already doing it.
B. Encourage public commitments—they’ll be less likely to back out.
Commitments made in private are easy to break.
But when something that we said is heard by everyone else, there is a strong desire to want to uphold that statement.
We do that because we all feel an innate social pressure to be consistent, something is known as normative social influence.
Apart from getting customers to be consistent, having them show support for your brand also helps to boost your brand image and provide social proof to potential customers!
Running a contest like New Rock City encourages your potential customers to self-identify as fans of your brand.
This creates a valuable opportunity for you to follow-up with offers that remind them of their fandom.
E.g. “Since we all know that you’re such a fan, surely you wouldn’t want to miss out on these wonderful deals and offers?”
Benefit Cosmetics went a step further and got their customers to post photos of themselves using their mascara with the hashtag #realsies. These were all for a chance to win a year’s supply of ‘they’re Real!’ mascara.
Benefit Cosmetics then created a website featuring the photos and usernames of all the participants!
What started as a 'mere contest' gave Benefit Cosmetics a pool of customers to market to, as well as valuable social proof to convince other potential customers of their brand promise.
Voting is a great way to involve not just the contest participants, but anyone who is visiting the site!
TSBmen holds monthly giveaways, where viewers can submit their stylish photos, and the winner walks away with a trunk full of sponsored menswear goodies!
Anyone around the globe can participate, and 10 finalists will battle it out via public votes.
Voting competitions are effective because contestants often involve their peers in the voting process, and as a result broadens the net of visitors to the site.
The contestants are also now committed to upholding this stylish image that they have portrayed and can be encouraged to sign up for further information that only stylish men can and would appreciate.
C. Reward your customers for investing time and effort into your brand.
While a small action can induce the feeling of wanting to remain consistent, an experiment has shown that:
... persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort.
Requiring participants to invest more time and effort into your brand might be a good way to boost their perceptual value.
Dunkin’ Donuts held a Halloween contest, which required participants to decorate their cups in any way they liked. The 5 most innovative designs were awarded a $100 gift card.
As you can see, the amount of effort put in by some of the participants is amazing. These individuals should be rewarded solely for their enthusiasm, especially since the prizes aren’t that spectacular!
7. Four Seasons Hong Kong #OurHK Instagram contest
In a photography competition, participants were required to tag photos of different landmarks within Hong Kong, in order to promote the country’s beauty.
It encouraged them to go out of their way to take photos in unique landmarks and put in more effort to create beautiful pictures.
Recap: Encourage them to make a statement, then persuade them to stand by it.
In order to fully utilize the long-lasting power of commitment and consistency:
- Make them commit to a stand, and leverage future offers using the statement/identity that they’ve made;
- Showcase their choices to the public, so that they’re now accountable to everyone else;
- Get them to put in as much effort as possible, so that they’ll perceive the end results as more worthwhile.
As an article in the trade magazine American Salesman that was featured in Influence states:
...when a person has signed an order for your merchandise, even though the profit is so small it hardly compensates for the time and effort of making the call, he is no longer a prospect--he is a customer.
Check out the rest of the posts we're writing about Cialdini's 6 principles!
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