Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion (Over 60+ Examples Inside!)

Over the past few weeks, we’ve explored the 6 principles of persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini, with more than 60 real-life marketing examples.

Here’s a recap of how Dr. Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion work, and how to use them in your own marketing strategy:


The Reciprocity Principle: In many social situations, we pay back what we received from others.

When you offer something first, people will feel a sense of indebtedness, which will make them more likely to comply with your subsequent requests. We’re deeply wired to be reciprocal.

There are three factors that will make this principle more effective:

  • Offer something first – allow them to feel indebted to you
  • Offer something exclusive – allow them to feel special
  • Personalize the offer – make sure they know it’s from you
(Pro-Tip: Leverage the Reciprocity Principle by installing a referral program on your online store.)


The Commitment & Consistency Principle: We tend to stick with whatever we’ve already chosen.

We are bombarded with hundreds of choices to make every single day. For convenience, we simply make a single decision and then stick to it for all subsequent related choices.

The way to earn customer loyalty using this principle is to make them commit to something (a statement/stand/identity). They will then feel an automatic compulsion to stick with it.

Follow these three ways to leverage off this principle:

  • Ask your customers to start from small actions – so they’ll have to stick to it.
  • Encourage public commitments – they’ll be less likely to back out.
  • Reward your customers for investing time and effort in your brand.


The Social Proof Principle: We tend to have more trust in things that are popular or endorsed by people that we trust.

How to work it:

  • Experts – Approval from credible experts in the relevant field
  • Celebrities – Approval or endorsements from celebrities (paid or unpaid)
  • Users – Approval from current/past users (ratings, reviews and testimonials)
  • ‘Wisdom of crowds’ – Approval from large groups of other people
  • Peers – Approval from friends and people you know


The Liking Principle: We are more likely to comply with requests made by people we like.

That can range from our closest friends to complete strangers that we are attracted to.

This explains why we trust word-of-mouth recommendations from our peers, as well as stuff endorsed by our favorite singers.

Follow these factors to make the Liking principle work:

  • Physical attractiveness – [Make your website] well-designed, function and suit what you’re selling.
  • Similarity – Behave like a friend, not a brand. Show them that you can relate to, and understand them.
  • Compliments – Have a voice; use social media platforms not to broadcast, but hold intimate conversations and form relationships with your customers.
  • Contact and Cooperation – Fight for the same causes as your customers. Nothing builds rapport and closeness like good old-fashioned teamwork.
  • Conditioning and Association – Associate your brands with the same values that you want to communicate and possess.
(Pro-Tip: Leverage the Liking Principle by installing a referral program on your online store.)


The Authority Principle: We follow people who look like they know what they’re doing.

This hold especially true in fields where we aren’t experts. Most headlines utilize this principle by including phrases like “scientists say”, “experts say”, “research shows”.

You can give off the air of authority if you pay attention of these factors:

  • Titles – Positions of power/experience
  • Clothes – Superficial cues that signal authority
  • Trappings – Accessories/indirect cues that accompany authoritative roles


The Scarcity Principle: We are always drawn to things that are exclusive and hard to come by.

We assume that things that are difficult to obtain are usually better than those that are easily available. We link availability to quality.

You can learn to trigger your customers’ sense of urgency with these methods:

  • Limited-number – Item is in short supply and won’t be available once it runs out.
  • Limited-time – Item is only available during that time period.
  • One-of-a-kind Specials – Sometimes utilize one or both of the above techniques. Also from one-off events (e.g. collaborations, anniversaries)
  • Utilising Competitions – Our inclination to want things more because other people also want them is often utilized in auctions or bids.

Conclusion: Use these principles to your advantage, but remember to get the fundamentals right.

These principles are powerful because they bypass our rational minds, appealing to our subconscious instincts. They elicit what Dr. Cialdini terms the “click, whirr” automatic response in all of us.

However, do note that while these principles can help bring more awareness for your brand, the biggest factor that ultimately drives customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales is a great product.

All marketing efforts will only work when they’re supporting a product that brings true value to customers.

Full list of links:


Read next: 90+ Examples of ‘Made To Stick’ Principles In Marketing


Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion eCommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior, social psychology, and handstands. He is also the lead calisthenics trainer at Weightless.