The holiday season is upon us and parties abound. Whether the event is a small gathering or a large affair, people are in the mood to chat, see and be seen and generally predisposed to being marketed to. When done with a soft touch, marketing at a party is the best kind of soft sell.
You probably heard about or participated in a Tupperware party in your neighborhood at some point — this is the quintessential American compliance setting, according to psychologist Robert Cialdini in his popular book “The Psychology of Influence”. The dynamics of a Tupperware party in fact make use of many methods of influence. Let’s take a look:
- Reciprocity — the event’s kick off includes many games at which participants win small prizes. If you don’t win a prize, you get to pick from a grab bag. Transfer this to marketing your blog and you have the idea of giving before the buying begins. There are many ways to give value up front in form of eBooks, papers, tips, links and resources that your readers will find useful.
- Commitment — each participant is invited to share about uses and benefits of the Tupperware he already owns. Inserting smart inquiries in your well crafted posts allows your readers to describe how helpful your material has been to them so that others can see it. These are what marketers call testimonials. You’ve seen them probably as quotes extolling the virtues of a product or service complete with name, title and company of the satisfied customer.
- Social proof — once the buying begins, each purchase goes to reinforce the act of buying for others. We like to have what people similar to us have; it must be good if others are buying. The hardest action is always the first one, the one that kicks off things — think about auctions too. Once someone indicates they like something, others come forward. It’s the same for a shop, a restaurant or a cafe’ — you like to see people in there having a good time. Number of commenters and number of readers make a positive impression and provide social proof for your blog.
Yet by far the most powerful dynamic you can tap into is the liking rule. In Tupperware parties you have a person who acts as the demonstrator. As entertaining and persuasive as that person is, the actual selling is done by the host — she is your neighbor, someone you know and like. The arrangement has her get a cut of the evening’s sales — and everyone knows that.
It works even when customers are totally aware of the pressure they are subjected to because of the liking and friendship. These numbers date back to the early nineties, but you may be astounded to learn that these parties generated sales in excess of $2.5 million per day at that time.
What are the factors that cause a person to like another person? How can you put the liking rule to work for you?
Attractiveness — this of course applies to people. In blogging it applies to layout and design. Social scientists call it the “halo effect”. A halo effect occurs when one positive characteristic of a person dominates the way that person is viewed by others. A professionally looking design and layout can introduce an overall positive impression of the site. According to research, visitors will automatically assign favorable traits like intelligence, honesty, and kindness to attractive individuals. to be sure, we make those judgments without being aware that we do.
Similarity — we like people who are similar to us. Whether we talk about opinions, personality traits, background, or life-style. You may have noticed it at parties, groups of similarly thinking individuals hang together. They do so also online. One of the groups with the highest level of affinity I have seen so far is bloggers who write about social media. It may be because the topic attracts gregarious people or perhaps it is the nature of the subject that makes people that way. Marketers are also quite expansive with each other.
Compliments — do I need to say more? Have you said “I like you” to anyone lately? it really works because we are suckers for flattery. Well, it needs to sound genuine, but in general we want to believe praise and like those who provide it.
Contact and cooperation — we are more favorable towards the things we have contact with. One of the reasons why making comments on other blogs and interacting with people on Twitter, for example, works is because we become accustomed to seeing their avatar and reading their style and they ours. As for cooperation, think about guest posts, agreeing to moderate someone’s discussion or publicizing their work.
Conditioning and association — being connected and associated with good news or good things influences how people feel about you. Spending time with the right group of writers and thinkers will elevate your skills and influence your decisions and learning positively. Think also about a popular topic. If you can time it right, you may be quite opportunistic and ride the wave with the movers and shakers of the blogosphere by writing about it and publicizing it in the appropriate venues. You will then be seen as associating your smarts with theirs.
One word of caution, do not exploit these techniques. They need to be tempered by authenticity and candor or else they will stop working and turn on you, just like a medicine taken one time too many. The best way to influence others is to maintain a gentle hold on the influence you exercise on yourself.