Today we’ll explain how to be persuasive when you write articles on your blog. We’ll use principles from Robert Cialdini’s classic psychology book Influence.

Robert Cialdini wrote his book on how to be persuasive back in the 1980s, but the principles still hold sway today. In this article we’ll talk you through how to incorporate persuasion techniques when it comes to writing blogs and articles (and which ones to avoid).

Cialdini highlighted six techniques for influence:

    1. Reciprocity
    2. Consistency
    3. Social Proof
    4. Liking
    5. Authority
    6. Scarcity

In today’s article, we’ll cover reciprocity, consistency and social proof. In our next post, we’ll cover liking, authority and scarcity.

Reciprocity

Cialdini discovered that people feel a strong sense of reciprocity. If you do something for them, they will feel obliged to do something for you.

Marketers have used this principle (consciously or unconsciously) since the dawn of the free market. It started with free samples, and it reached its conclusion with the “free e-book” (worth £97).

At Key Business Marketing we always advocate a more charitable approach. Instead of offering the free e-book in exchange for something, why not offer it to everyone? Simply commit to adding value – “pay it forward” – with no expectations.

This blog is an example. We give away (for free) everything we know about websites, content marketing and social media. If people just want to read and enjoy the content – that’s great! If they want to work with us at the end up it – also great.

So we suggest you bear the concept of reciprocity in mind, but don’t be too cynical about it. Just give advice, make suggestions and share your thoughts.

Consistency

Psychologists are beginning to understand that people are desperate to appear consistent – that is, they don’t like changing their minds and they don’t like to come across (or feel) “flaky” or “fickle”

You can exploit this (if you choose) as a marketer by trying to get your client to define themselves in a certain way. Once they’ve done this, they will tend to stay true to their own self-definition.

In a blog article, you could start by priming the readers to think of themselves as “spontaneous” or “ambitious”. Then you could try to persuade them to buy a product or sign up for a course. They would (the theory goes) be more likely to agree (because they would want to be consistent with a spontaneous person).

To be honest, we don’t recommend trying to utilise this principle. It’s manipulative and savvy readers can spot it a mile off. It will just come across as spammy and cheap.

Social Proof

People are “herd animals”. They generally look to see what everyone else is doing before they make a decision.

Marketers will often try to trigger this herd instinct with manipulation. Most adverts show other people (hired actors) using the product or service. The implication is that you can trust it because it’s popular.

However, you don’t need to lie or embellish your writing to make use of social proof. You just need to show (legitimately!) that other people like and trust you. On websites, make as much use as possible of things like:

  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Case Studies
  • Endorsements
  • Stories from “happy customers”

On websites, as in life, talk is cheap. Don’t just “tell” prospective clients that you are trustworthy. “Show” them with reference to other people who can transmit the social proof.

If you’d like some help to produce really persuasive content for your blog or website, please get in touch.

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