15+ Persuasion Techniques To Hack Into Your Customers’ Minds and Make Them Buy From You
Persuasion is the art of convincing people to do what you want.
It’s a natural skill all living beings are born with. In fact, our very survival depends on this skill. Have you ever seen a newborn baby trying to persuade his mother to feed him?
A newborn baby is a persuasion grandmaster – even without the absence of language.
While nature is persuasion at its best, how can we make use of these same techniques when trying to change people’s minds and get them to do what we want in everyday life?
How can we use business persuasion to take our sales through the roof and watch our revenue multiply?
The SPICE Formula of Persuasion
In his book Flipnosis: The Art of Split-Second Persuasion, Dr. Kevin Dutton has come up with a genius persuasion formula known as the SPICE formula.
It stands for Simplicity, Perceived Self-Interest, Incongruity, Confidence, and Empathy.
When combined, these five dynamics lead to mind-hacking persuasion that will convince your customers to close their eyes and buy from you.
In this post, we’ll go through these five persuasion elements we often find in nature and see how we can use them in our business.
Before we talk about the SPICE formula elements, there is one thing all of these persuasion factors depend upon: Good Looks!
Yes, countless studies have shown that attractiveness is key to persuasion. If something makes you like it, you want to do it. The feel-good factor is very important if you’re going to convince your customers to buy from you.
That’s why they tell you in marketing schools to impress your customers with good design and aesthetics. Whether it’s the interior of your physical store, an online store’s web design, your logo, or your packaging, good aesthetics sell every day of the week.
No wonder why businesses spend thousands of bucks in design – it’s truly worth it.
But apart from getting a good designer on board to revamp the looks of your store, what is one other thing that sells?
The looks of the person selling something!
Now you know why supermarket aisles are lined with women all donned up in pretty suits and makeup. They know where your persuasion points are, and they are pressing just the right buttons.
A research conducted by the University of Minnesota studied how male students interacted with their female fellows on a ten-minute telephone conversation. Prior to the phone call, the male students were shown a picture of the person they were going to talk to (an attractive vs. an unattractive person). The study concluded that when the male students perceived the person they were talking to as attractive, they responded more warmly and positively.
The key takeaway from this study: if you have an online business and often get on the phone with your clients, make sure your picture shows you at your very best. Time for a photoshoot?
More Insights About The Kind Of Photos That Go On Your Web Pages and Ads
Some more insights are offered in psychology literature about a person’s appearance and its effect on other people. Or, the kind of people you choose to front your advertisements. Here they are:
- If your advertisement is about your product or service’s trustworthiness or service or if it’s some kind of a testimonial, go with a person with cute, babyish features. Studies have shown that facial features like full and round faces, smooth jawlines, soft eyebrows, and big and round eyes are associated with honesty.
- If your ad is more about facts and expert knowledge related to your product or service, go with someone with more mature features. Features like a stronger jawline, angular cheekbones, lower eyebrows, smaller eyes, and a longer nose are associated with dominance and authority.
While human beings are naturally equipped with a preference for babyish and infant features, cute doesn’t always win the day. It depends on what you’re talking about. A cute person giving scientific facts about your product won’t do very well with your audience.
Key takeaway from these insights: Be picky when choosing those stock photos that go on your web pages or the actors or actresses that front your ads.
So now, once you’ve got things looking good, we can move on to put some SPICE in our marketing techniques.
Incongruity – The Heart of the Persuasion Formula
Incongruity or surprise refers to something so unexpected that it takes our mind hostage.
I’m mentioning incongruity before the other elements of persuasion because it’s a key element and lies at the heart of the SPICE formula.
Incongruity is the tool you need to capture your prospect’s attention. Once you have their attention, you’ve done half the work already. Selling them now takes less of an effort.
Use Incongruity in Copy
When you see a beggar holding a placard sign, what do you think is written on it? Another story of bad fortune? Yeah, that’s so EXPECTED. No surprises here.
But one beggar in a dejected street of San Francisco knew how to mug the passers-by legally. Instead of the usual hard-luck stories, this is what was written on his thin sheet of cardboard:
“WHY LIE? I WANT BEER!”
A persuasion genius, wasn’t he? He diligently got people poking around in their coat pockets, giving him whatever small change they had!
Incongruity is often seen in successful marketing copies these days. Instead of the usual and expected, think of how you can go against all the odds and give your creative ads an edge.
Look at another piece of marketing genius.
After sending these flyers out, I bet they must become removed the mention of shorter queues on their counter.
And don’t think Avis was having an easy time with their competition. Their competitor Hertz went full-on in competing with these incongruent creatives.
Key Takeaway: Surprise your customers with your marketing campaigns, social media posts, web copy, and advertisements. Be out of the ordinary and catch their attention. Incongruity is your secret weapon to stop the brain in its track and hack into its system, so it does what you want it to do.
Empathy – Create a Connection with Your Audience
Next in our line of SPICEs is empathy. Empathy is another key element that catches your prospect’s attention by creating a human connection with them. With good empathy, you get down to your prospect’s level and appeal to their emotions instead of their mind.
“If you have to win the heart and mind, start at the heart.” – Some famous person.
By putting empathy in your marketing techniques, you reduce the psychological distance between your prospect and you and increase similarity with them.
Have you ever heard of a successful salesperson who bought himself a BMW just by being a genius salesman?
Meet Pat Reynolds. This is how he makes cold calls.
He calls people out of the blue and asks them a strange question like, “Are you superstitious?” followed by something else that makes them laugh. Once he has grabbed his prospect’s attention with incongruity, the next spice he uses is empathy. He tells them that he understands how they want to watch a popular show (he names the show and makes sure he calls just when the show is about to start) and how he also understands that they probably don’t need the services offered by his company (more empathy).
Once incongruity and empathy have done their magic on the prospect, he asks them to give him a favor: numbers of friends and family who they think would be interested in his services and also permission to call back. All craftily and empathetically said, of course!
No wonder about the BMW.
People Have Natural Tendency To Return Favors
Go back to Reynolds’ story and notice how he managed to get so much out of a cold call.
First, he makes them laugh and then shows empathy by mentioning the show and letting them off the hard sell.
Next, he requests them for a favor: referrals of friends and family interested in his services and permission to call back.
Why did people even succumb to these requests? He actually got people up from whatever they were doing to go through their phonebooks and give him referrals.
This trick worked perfectly because of the power of reciprocity: a natural tendency of humans to give back and return favors. The human tendency that makes you invite someone to your party just because they invited you to theirs.
The key takeaway here: Give favors to your customers like some valuable advice, tips, or guidance. Give them some kind of value, and they’ll be ready to drum up business with you – just to return the favor.
Say the Things Your Prospects Talk About
Get down to your customers’ level and understand them. What things do they talk about? What challenges do they face? Why type of lingo do they use?
One way to do that is to join Facebook groups where you think your target audience hangs out. Spy on their conversations and observe them. Take notes. Have empathy.
And then use those observations to create copy that truly resonates with them. Your content should hit the nail on the head and create an instant connection with them.
Empathy works the same way as incongruity – it intoxicates the mind.
Create a Human Connection with Good Stories
Good marketers tell good stories. With interesting and relatable narratives, you can connect with your audience like a human and win their hearts.
People remember stories 22 times more than facts and figures alone, which leads to a 30% higher conversion rate.
Here is an example of the art of storytelling working its magic in persuasion.
An elderly but independent lady wouldn’t change her mind about getting home assistance, no matter how her daughter tried to persuade her. All her attempts at reasoning with her mother went to no avail until one day, she tried a different approach.
Instead of reasoning and appealing to the brain’s cognitive abilities, the daughter told the mom a neighbor’s story and how she seemed so happy after getting home care. The trick worked. Mom changed her mind and agreed to give it a try.
Key Takeaway: Create a connection with your target personas through empathy. Get down to their level and show them you understand. Give them favors in the form of valuable content. Talk about the challenges your customers face and offer advice and tips to deal with it. Create stories that appeal to their emotions. Win their hearts, and the mind will follow.
Simplicity – The Simple, The Better
Countless studies have shown that the brain loves simplicity.
When our brain processes information, it looks at how simple and fluent something is when deciding whether to run with it or not. Simple is good. Complicated is bad.
Use Simplicity in Content
There are two ways a message can be conveyed – simple vs. complicated. People often think they sound more professional when they use a lot of buzzwords and complicated language. But that’s not true.
A bit of technical jargon that your audience uses every day in their lives is ok but make sure your content is readable and looks like a human, not a robot write it.
Successful politicians have been using this technique on us for years. When they are running election campaigns, their policies and speeches become simple and basic.
Keep Customer Experiences Simple
Everything from the UX of your site to your product design should be simple. If you need to add a button on your site, make it look like a button, and nothing else.
Remember incongruity – the element of standing out? In an effort to stand out, a lot of people screw up on simplicity. Incongruity shouldn’t conflict with simplicity – in fact; it should only enhance it and make it spicier.
Key takeaway: Simplicity should be everywhere – whether it’s your marketing copy, web design, or even the product you’ve created. The simple, the better.
Check out this post on the feature checklist of eCommerce sites to make sure you have a simple and intuitive online store.
Confidence – Gain Your Customer’s Confidence by Being Confident
Persuasion is about winning people’s trust and confidence in you. And nothing inspires confidence more than raw confidence itself.
If you want customers to trust you, be confident.
But what goes into it? How do you sound more confident? Two persuasion techniques will help you gain your customer’s confidence by making you sound more confident.
Spare Some Thought to your Attire
In a 1960s study at Yale, a group of participants was asked to twist a dial all the way to the maximum. When the instructor was a professor wearing a lab coat, 65% of participants trusted him and twisted the dial as they were told. On the flip side, when the instructor was a lab technician wearing jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers, the participants weren’t so keen.
The way you dress is just one of the ways you can inspire confidence. Give some thought to it.
Price Yourself Appropriately
Another way you can inspire confidence and gain your customers’ trust is by pricing yourself appropriately. Want to make your product or service sound like a luxury? Well, it only has to be priced and look like a luxury.
In a study, people were given some bottles of the same kind of wine but with different price tags. The wine that was perceived to be cheaper didn’t impress the participants’ taste palates as much as the wine that was perceived to be more expensive.
Raise your customers’ expectations by pricing yourself right. Higher expectations lead to higher perceptions about performance.
Key Takeaway: Gain your customers’ trust and confidence by giving a thought to your attire, body language, and also your price. Sprinkle confidence everywhere in your marketing.
Perceived Self-Interest – It’s a Bargain!
The customer will only buy something from you when they think it’s in their best interest and to their advantage.
But how do you make them think that way? Here are some ways you can appeal to the perceived self-interests of your customers.
Use Social Proof
Social proof is a virus that helps people figure out the most suitable thing to do when they’re not so sure themselves. It gives you a message that “If everyone else is doing it, it must be in your self-interest too.”
Add user testimonials, endorsements, and figures like the number of customers, social likes, etc. on your web copy and creatives to gain your prospects’ trust and to appeal to their self-interest.
This is exactly how an infomercial writer changed the sales game of a TV shopping channel. By adding just a few words to the sales pitch’s call to action line, the writer sent the channel’s sales through the roof.
He tweaked the call to action from “Operators are waiting, please call now” to “If operators are busy, please call again.”
Can you spot the difference it makes? The original call to action paints a picture of bored operators, waiting for the next call while the next one makes you think the channel is bustling with sales, and everybody is out to grab their products.
That’s exactly the reason why you see many online stores still having their sold-out products on display with a big SOLD OUT written on them.
And that’s also the reason why auctions work so well. It takes me back to a memory of a dolphin show we attended several years ago. The show included a sea lion that was trained to scribble with paint on a canvas. At the end of the show, the ‘painting’ was put on auction, and it started off at a very low opening bid, which attracted a lot of bids and a huge crowd competing for it.
And since there was such a big crowd competing for it, everyone thought it was in their best interest to get the painting.
The result? The painting finally sold for 100 times greater than the opening bid.
It proves that social proof can kick logic out of the window.
Use Anchoring Points when Pricing your Products
Why do people price their products $499 instead of $500?
Most people think it’s because it makes their products appear less expensive. But that’s only one of the reasons.
The idea behind it is when you give a round-off price to someone and tell them to estimate its wholesale cost, they come up with a lower amount as opposed to when they are given a precise amount like $499 or $475.
With precise amounts, people start thinking precisely too instead of thinking in whole, round numbers. And they tend to estimate a bit higher wholesale value.
This makes them think that it’s a bargain for them – an appeal to their self-interest.
Focus on Benefits Instead of Features When Writing Copy
Ask any copywriting expert, and they’ll tell you the same thing: focus on benefits more than the features.
In other words, stop bragging about how great your product is. Instead, brag about all the benefits your customers will get from your product.
Appeal to their self-interest first. Scientific facts can go later – once you’ve hacked into their brain.
Use the Principle of Scarcity
If something is scarce, people think it’s in their best interest to buy it. That’s why ‘RARE’ is such a buzzword in marketing.
Make your products appear scarce by using copy like “limited edition,” “only 10 pieces available”, “limited seats,” etc.
Key Takeaway: To persuade your customers, make them think it’s in the best interest. While there are many ways you can do that, some important techniques are highlighted here.
Coming to an end…
With the right persuasion techniques, you can hack into your customers’ brains and sell them anything at any price.
The SPICE formula is effective in persuasion. Just use these five elements together to put your sales and revenue on fire.
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