Psychological Tricks in Selling

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Psychological Tricks in Selling

By Stephen Bucaro

In this article, I'm revealing six powerful secret
psychological tricks that you can use to increase the
effectiveness of your advertising and marketing. What if
you don't sell anything? Should you ignore this information?

You ARE selling something. Whether you are a Real Estate
agent selling multi-million dollar homes, or a worker trying
to sell your boss on the idea that you are a valuable
employee, everybody is selling something. So it would be
wise to learn these secret tricks and use them to achieve
your own personal success.

The secret psychological tricks that I am going to reveal
are not really secret. They have been used by shrewed
salesman for millenium. Their existence was revealed back
in 1984 by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book "Influence : The
Psychology of Persuasion".

You will recognize these tricks being used everywhere in
advertising today. Now you will be able to put them to use
to enhance your own personal success.

Psychological Selling Trick Number 1: Reciprocity

Reciprocity works like this: you give someone something of
value for free. That individual feels an obligation to
return the favor. Reciprocity is a very powerful principle.

To use reciprocity as a marketing tool, you give people
something of value for free, they reciprocate by purchasing
your product or service. But you would be surprised how
many advertisers totally blow it. Either they don't
understand the concept of "free", or they don't have total
faith in the principle of reciprocity.

For example, consider the offer "get a free camera when you
subscribe to our magazine for two years." That's not free.
Or, "free installation with a one year commitment." That's
not free. The customer is paying with an obligation. No sale.

Consider the offer,"receive the latest issue of our
magazine absolutely free. No bill will be sent." If the
prospective customer finds the magazine to be of value,
they feel an obligation to subscribe. Or, "one month of
free Internet service. No credit card required." If the
Internet service performs well, the prospective customer
feels an obligation to sign up.

The trick is to create something that has high perceived
value to a prospective customer, but costs you little or
nothing to produce. Free information is a good example.
Here again many advertisers totally blow it. The free
information turns out to be nothing more than blatant

Free samples of your product or service is another good
example. Again, many businesses blow it. They either
produce a cheaper version of their product to use as free
samples, or they use the free sample campaign as a means
to dump reject product.

The largest Internet Service Provider is well known for
giving away hundreds of hours of service for free. No
credit card required. The largest cookie company is famous
for giving away free cookies. Reciprocity is a very powerful
marketing strategy.

Psychological Selling Trick Number 2: Scarcity

Scarcity works like this: There is a limited amount of the
item available. After those are gone, the item will not be
available. "urgency" implies Scarcity. For example, "this
offer will be honored only for a limited time".

The effectiveness of the scarcity principle is well
demonstrated by the large segment of the population involved
in pursuing antiques, collectibles, and memorabilia simply
because these items are scarce. Scarcity is often contrived,
as when a company produces a "limited edition".

For example, when Disney releases a limit edition of one of
its classic stories - yes, limited to a production of more
copies than they could ever possibly sell - then it goes in
the "vault". And how fortunate we'll be a few years from
now when they decide to do us the favor of taking it back
out of the vault.

Note: Manufactured items, especially DVDs and CD-ROMs,
cannot be "scarce". It's a simple matter to put the
manufacturing dies back into production. All scarcities of
manufactured items are contrived.

One popular incarnation of scarcity is the "going out of
business sale". Customers somehow don't pick up on the
fact that the mark-downs are not that great, or that the
store has new merchandise coming in the back door to take
advantage of the increase in traffic.

Scarcity is a very powerful marketing tool. There are many
ways to contrive scarcity. You can create a limited edition,
or for items like information products, scarcity can exist
in the form of urgency by creating a limited time offer.

Psychological Selling Trick Number 3: Commitment

Commitment involves getting a prospective customer to take
a tiny step towards a goal. For example, you might get them
to request free information, or fill out a survey. When the
prospective customer takes that first step, they have made
a commitment, however tentative, towards the goal you have
set out for them. They are likely to take another step.

One example of this process is the "two step" method used
in mail order. When a mail order marketer runs an
advertisement, they don't even try to sell the product.
Instead, the advertisement offers free information. A
prospective customer makes that first commitment towards
purchasing the product by requesting the free information.
The free information they receive is designed to entice
them to take the next step.

Another example of using commitment as a marketing tool is
a survey. By checking a few boxes and answering a few
questions, a prospective customer takes that first step
towards a commitment. The result they receive from the
survey is designed to entice them to take the next step.

Yet another example of using commitment as a marketing tool
is a lottery. For example, people enter their name and
address on a ticket for a chance to win a new car. A
salesman uses that information to contact them. By entering
their name and address on the lottery ticket, the individual
has made a commitment to own that new car.

The most common example of the principle of commitment are
those long-winded full page advertisements in magazines.
The prospective customer invests a great deal of time
reading through the entire advertisement. That investment
of time represents a commitment. They are likely to take
the next step, responding to the advertisement.

To use the psychological power of commitment in your
advertising, don't try to sell your product or service in
your ad. Instead, use a survey, contest, or free information
to get a prospective customer to make that first step
towards a commitment to purchase your product.

Psychological Selling Trick Number 4: Consensus

Consensus involves getting prospective customers to believe
that "everybody's doing it". Everybody is just waiting in
line to purchase your product. Everybody can't be wrong, so
the product must be fantastic!

Of course you're smart enough to know that everybody CAN be
wrong. Everybody thought that SUVs were safe vehicles (they
roll over). Everybody thought Enron was a great investment
(it went bankrupt). Everybody thought Iraq had weapons of
mass destruction (well maybe not everybody). You're an
independent thinker.

Here are some examples of headlines using the consensus
principle: "It's the new sensation crossing the country",
"People are signing up in droves", "People just can't get
enough of them", "Record sales", "Unbelievable response!"
and "Join millions of smart consumers". Combine this with
a stock photograph of a large group of people, a long line
of people, or a crowd of people, and you have a powerful
consensus message.

Note: Many people don't think they're having fun unless
they're in a large, noisy crowd. Unfortunately, every
large crowd contains a few lunatics. When things go wrong,
the crowd stampedes and people get hurt, or killed. When I
see a large crowd, I head the other way.

Fortuately, most people are not independent thinkers. They
act like a herd of cattle. Use the consensus principle in
your advertising, and people, like lemmings headed for the
sea, will come in waves to buy your product.

Psychological Selling Trick Number 5: Authority

Authority involves getting prospective customers to believe
that someone who is knowledgeable or famous uses your
product or service. If a knowledgeable or famous person uses
your product, then it must be fantastic!

The bigger the authority, the more powerful the advertising
message will be. For example, doctors are authorities. "Most
doctors prescribe Tylenol for arthritis pain". Large
organizations are authorities. "The National Heart
Association says - Quaker oatmeal is good for your heart."
The Federal Government is an authority. "The U.S. Food and
Drug Administration says whole wheat bread is part of a
complete diet". If only we could think of a way to use God
as an authority!

Here's how to use the principle of authority in advertising:
search the Internet for any references to your product or
service. Find an article that alludes to your product being
of value. For example, let's say you sell black T-shirts.
You find an article by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
that says "bees are attracted to bright colored clothing".
Your copy: "The U.S. Department of Agriculture that says my
T-shirts protect you from attack by stinging insects."

Most advertising using the authority principle is taken out
of context and exaggerated. Some advertising uses totally
fake authorities. "My dog biscuits are recommended by the
International Association of Dog Nutritionists" (an
organization I started last week). Some advertising uses a
"study" as an authority. "A recent study found that my
lemonade tastes better than any other brand" (my mother
liked it better).

I don't recommend that you use a fake organization, a fake
study, or take information out of context or exaggerate,
but if you can locate a legitimate authority or study
related in any way to your product and quote it without
exaggeration, you will have a powerful authority message.

Psychological Selling Trick Number 6: Greed

Greed involves taking advantage of many peoples belief that
there is a secret short cut to wealth. They believe that
wealthy people didn't earn their wealth, instead they know
a "secret".

Note: I am not recommending that you use the principle of
greed because it is used by unethical scammers. I'm simply
informing you of it's existence in order to make this series
of articles complete.

The simplest method of using the principle of greed is the
chain letter. You have no doubt received a chain letter at
some point. A chain letter contains a chart specifying the
massive amounts of money the recipient will get when they
follow the instructions. The first instruction is to send

The multi-level or network marketing scheme works similar
to a chain letter. The prospective recruit gets a chart
showing the massive amounts of money they will receive when
they join the network. After parting with their money, the
victim is instructed to con their friends and relatives
into joining.

Another method of using the principle of greed is the
lottery or casino. The odds of winning most lotteries are
about the same whether you buy a ticket or not. A casino
allocates only a tiny portion of it's customers money to
winnings in order to create the illusion that the odds of
winning are good. Many people don't understand statistics.
In their mind, the phrase "win a million dollars" translates
into "get a million dollars".

Another example of the principle of greed is the business
opportunity scam. We know it works because successful
scammers invest millions to run business opportunity
infomercials, and they make hundreds of millions in profits.
They prey on people who believe there is a secret short cut
to wealth. The scammers think people who fall for their
scam are stupid, lazy, and greedy, so they deserve to get
ripped off.

The way to use the principle of greed is to contrive a
"secret plan". Run an ad describing how the plan requires
absolutely no work to make massive amounts of money. Include
a few bogus testimonials and a legitimate looking chart
that shows the massive amount of money the plan will bring.
Some scammers include pictures of fake checks or fake bank

Never divulge any details of the plan in the ad. The
prospective customer is required to send money to get the
plan. The typical plan instructs the purchaser to run the
same scam.

The principle of greed is very powerful. People who have
been ripped of by this scam a thousand times before will,
like hypnotized zombies, send you their money. They think
THIS TIME they will receive the REAL secret plan.

Resource Box:
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