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Clever ways to persuade customers to buy

By Pauline Muindi | March 31st 2021
Persuasion is particularly required in business marketing efforts

Persuasion is a powerful tool in business. It can help entrepreneurs land new investors, clients, hire the best employees, and have more productive business relationships. Persuasion is particularly required in business marketing efforts.

However, contrary to popular belief, persuasion in marketing isn’t just about getting people to purchase your product or service. Proper persuasion involves the ability not just to influence people’s actions, but their attitudes as well. In simple words, other than getting someone to buy, you ensure that they’re happy with the purchase and also have a positive attitude towards your brand.

The idea is to get people to make a purchase without feeling like they’re being sold to. When done properly, persuasive marketing influences people’s attitudes in such a way that they feel like they’re making the decision to buy all on their own. They should feel confident that they made the best decision with the purchase.

Here are a few persuasive ideas to help you win and retain customers:

1. Induce reciprocity

Reciprocity is an unspoken rule in all kinds of social interactions. For instance, when you gift a friend on their birthday, they will feel obligated to reciprocate on yours. One study found that if a waiter gave customers a mint at the end of the meal, he was tipped three per cent more. The tip increased by 14 per cent for two mints. If the waiter gave a mint, turned and gave them another and said “for you especially, I give you another mint”, his tip went up by 23 per cent.

There are many ways to compel your customers to reciprocate by making repeat purchases and being more loyal to your brand. For instance, offering a discount on the first purchase can convince many customers to become repeat buyers. Software companies also persuade customers by offering freemium versions or free trial periods. Some brands even ask customers to reciprocate by recommending their product to friends on social media.

The rule of thumb with using reciprocity to persuade customers is to offer something valuable to them, while ensuring it isn’t so valuable to you that you’ll face a loss.

2. Create scarcity

Demand for anything of value is always greater when the supply is limited. Because people always want what they can’t have, scarcity increases the perceived value of your product. On the other hand, if everyone has access to something, people tend to lose interest and perceive it as less valuable.

This is the concept many companies use in creating exclusive products for their customers. For instance, automobile companies create limited edition cars for collectors. The concept is also at play when marketers create limited offers. When the customer knows they can get the product on half price for a period of 24 hours, they’re persuaded to make the purchase as soon as possible. Restaurants create scarcity offering special prices or meals for certain days or hours. Some brands create VIP clubs whose members get exclusive offers and discounts and early access to events.

Whatever way you decide to create scarcity in your business, it should make people who purchase feel like they managed to get something that others couldn’t. They should feel like part of an exclusive club, which makes them have a positive attitude towards your brand.

3. Authority figures’ recommendations

People trust advice from experts in the industry. For example, if you are selling a new phone and would like to highlight that it has a great camera, getting a well-known photographer to recommend it would be a great advertising idea.

Influencer marketing, which is built on the same idea, is a powerful marketing tool in the digital era. A 2019 study by Rakuten Advertising, 87 per cent of shoppers said they were prompted to make a purchase by an influencer.

To build authoritative credibility, however, you don’t necessarily have to go for people with huge social media following. You can partner with industry experts to vouch for your products. For instance, if you are selling skincare products, getting dermatologists to vouch for you to their patients or on their social media pages might be an effective strategy.

4. The consistency principle

According to the consistency principle, people are motivated toward cognitive consistency and change their attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and actions to achieve it. Simply put, humans have an almost irresistible desire to be (or appear) consistent with their previous actions. For instance, once you get someone to vouch for your product, they get more confident in their purchase and feel compelled to be repeat customers.

Sales people also use this principle by making small requests and building up to bigger ones. For instance, once you get someone to praise a certain product feature, they are likely to make a purchase and feel happy about it.

5. The consensus principle

Also known as social proof, the consensus principle is based on the idea that people are more likely to perform an action when they know it is aligned with what others have done or will do. Essentially, we like feeling similar to the group. Additionally, we assume that others have more knowledge than ourselves in ambiguous situations, and therefore use their actions to inform our own. For instance, customers are more likely to purchase products with rave reviews and high customer ratings than those without.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews and make them highly visible on your website. What if you get negative reviews? Take this as an opportunity to reach out to the customers to see if there’s anything you can do to remedy the situation. Another effective way of creating consensus is by encouraging customers to share your products on social media. When a shopper sees a product shared on social media, it shows them that the product has been well-received by others, making them more confident in their decision to purchase.

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