PubCon Day 1 – Seven Ways to Turn a “No” into a “Yes”

by Amy Cheng on October 18, 2012

in Conversion Optimisation

Today I have the privilege of writing from PubCon, one of the online marketing world’s most respected conferences, held in Las Vegas. Here’s what’s been happening so far.

Day 1 kicked off with a keynote from Robert Cialdini,  a psychologist and author of books such as”Power of Persuasion” and “Persuasion Selling”. His presentation got a standing ovation. I will share with you  today his 7 principals on how to communicate and negotiate with your friends, family, clients and leads in order to turn a “no” into a “yes”.

1. Reciprocation

“I owe you one, let me know when you need a hand.”

Reciprocation is the feeling that obligates one to to return a favour. For example, if you send out an invitation to a friend to your own party, they will feel obligated to invite you to theirs in the future. On an even more fundamental level, people are inclined to say “Yes” to other people. Since we were very young, we’ve been conditioned that being agreeable is good social behaviour.

A study was done in New York in a particular restaurant which found that when one mint per diner was placed with the table bill, the wait staff obtained a 3.3% increase in tips. However, when the waiters put 2 mints per person with the bill, the tips increased to 14.1%! When you do the math, the profit gained from a small gesture really adds up.

Therefore, if you want to encourage a “Yes” from reciprocation, you must be the instigator. You need to invest with the person you wish to influence and they will give you something in return. In business settings, you do not necessarily need to invite them to a party or send them a fancy gift. What you can give them instead is education, some advice or even a funny story. Whatever you choose to give, make sure it is relevant to the final experience you want them to feel. For example, you may give them a free trial period or your product or service – give them just a piece of the pie so they want to take another bite.

2. Liking

“Hey, you’re cool, I like you.”

When the person you wish to influence likes you, a “Yes” comes easier – but what are some of the specific actions you can take in order to increase your likeability?

Quite simply, people like people they believe are like them. A study was done where two groups of individuals negotiated a deal over email. One group did not send personal information with their product offering, while the other group did. The group who included personal information had a 30% more sales.

When applying this strategy to your business, the first step is to optimise the”About Us” page of your website. Commonly this page is filled with dry, corporate information. In fact, many businesses use the “About Us” page to try to appear even more “corporate” than they really are, to try to project an image of professionalism and expertise. However, your “About Us” page should not be focused on when your business started, how many people work in it, or how many awards its won. Doing so can make the very people you’re trying to impress think of you as an egocentric self-promoter. And nobody likes someone who is full of themselves.

Instead, place personal information on your “About Us” page that your target market can relate to. Robert suggests placing the names and hyperlinks to 3 “driveway songs” (the songs that you play in your car while you’re in your driveway, not wanting to turn off the engine because you love them so much). Doing this creates a very memorable experience as it is so different to what your visitors have come to expect from a typical boring “About Us” page.

3. Commitment/Consistency

“Because I said I’ll do it, I will do it and will do it well.”

Integrity is an important part of building a solid relationship – unfortunately, at times it is our clients who fall out of integrity by leaving a deal unexpectedly.  Don’t despair, there are ways to help your clients improve their integrity, and all it takes is two words.

Gordon’s Restaurant in Chicago had a line when asking clients to confirm their booking. It was a statement that required no personal commitment: “Please call if you need to change your reservation”. The restaurant found this line ineffective – many bookings would become no shows. So Gordon’s Restaurant asked Robert for help, and make the following adjustment: “Will you please call if you need to change or cancel your reservation?” The person being asked this question is obligated to say  ”Yes”, thereby making a public and personal commitment. The results of this new line reduced no shows from 32% to 10%!

The takeaway is that you can avoid losing clients by getting them to make a commitment that involves saying the word “Yes”.

4. Scarcity

“If I can’t have it, I want it!”

Customers today are faced with so many choices that making a decision can be a prolonged and stressful experience. Many spend so long on the fence that the buying cycle passes them right by – i.e., their final decision is not to buy anything at all. However, you don’t want your target customers to wait and decide whether they’ll buy your product or service. You want them to buy, and you want them to buy now.

So how do you push them off the fence without changing your features or pricing? Simple! Make your product or service appear rare or let people know its dwindling in availability. Doing so makes it instantly more desirable. For example:

  • Groupon uses this technique to tell people if they do not make an action quickly, someone else will take it and they will lose
  • Apple uses scarcity on their products which makes people line up for days prior to launches
  • Harry Potter books use limited prints on launch date to encourage pre-orders

List out what qualities of your product or service are unique and scarce and that only you can offer. Once you do this people will sit up and listen to you more intently. People are more motivated by the loss they can experience from a purchasing decision than by what they can gain.

Another example: A study was done where an energy audit was offered to home owners to check for energy leaks. One group of customers were told they would save $1 per day by joining. The other group was told they would lose $1 a day by not joining. The result was 150% more sales to the group who were told they would lose a $1 a day. Loss is a powerful driver.

5. Authority

“I trust you, therefore I will buy from you.”

People will lean towards people who they feel are confident or those who they know are important. For this reason, many companies in the traditional media use celebrities or power figures to market their product. Celebrities are expensive, so a less costly alternative is to find expert reviews.

The audio equipment company BOSE ran an advertising campaign that featured expert testimonials endorsing its products. Showing these expert reviews in their ads increased their sales by 60%. And in another demonstration of the power of scarcity/loss to increase desirability, they later changed their ad headings from “New” to “Find out what you have been missing”, and increased sales by a further 15%.

6. Credibility

“Hey, you’re a big deal! I respect that.”

If you go on stage to speak to a group of people and say “I’m great, I have lots of experience, I have worked with a thousand clients” – you will get negative feedback. People will think you are only self promoting and will stop listening. The simplest solution to this is to find a third person to introduce you instead, using the same script. Other people talking you up gives you much more credibility than you talking yourself up.

To apply this to your business, try offering to write an article for or be interviewed by a journal, website, or other publication. But rather than apply yourself, have someone apply on your behalf who introduces you as an expert on your product or service.

7. Consensus

“Oh, nice! My friends like this product too!”

When people are unsure, they don’t look inside for answers but outside for opinions. If there are no authority figures, they will look at the opinions of their peers to reduce their uncertainty. Therefore, where possible, provide positive peer reviews. 98% of online purchasers read the reviews of prior customers before they decide to buy. The phrase “Customer who bought this also bought…” is  a common and simple way to make more sales in e-commerce websites.

A study was done recently in a hotel with the objective to save on towel washing costs by getting guests to re-use their towels. The hotel tested different messages on the paper slips that were folded with the towels and this was the result:

A) “Do this for the environment” – 10% towel re-use rate
B) “Co-operate with us and save the environment” – 33% re-use rate
C) “Guests who stayed in this room helped to save the environment” – 54% re-use rate

The first example didn’t work because the customers could not relate to it. The second one didn’t work as well because it was forced – customers don’t have a reason to want to work with the hotel. However, the third example performed brilliantly as it was so specific to the customer. Stating that other guests in the same room made it personal.

So the next time you’re looking to redo some of the messaging on your website to drive more conversions, use these 7 strategies to have more control on the level of influence you have on your target market.

That’s all from PubCon for now. I’ll be attending seminars about Social Media, Content and AB Testing over the next few days – so stay tuned!

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