Six Principles of Persuasion: Reciprocity

Six Principles of Persuasion: Reciprocity The previous three posts have covered Liking, Authority, and Scarcity. The next principle of persuasion is Reciprocity, which is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. Dr. Cialdini states that we, “Have an innate desire to repay in equal or greater value what another person has provided us. This rule of reciprocity permeates exchanges of every kind.” You can increase your response rates to your direct mail and other marketing by applying the reciprocation principle to your messaging.

The rule of reciprocation works in a number of ways. First it eliminates the need for a client to like you in order to do business with you (although it sure helps) By giving the client something free and unprompted, you apply the rule of reciprocation to their next actions, thus making it more likely for the client to feel obligated to do business with you. It can be as simple as a free sample, but once you engage the rule of reciprocation your client will feel more obligated to purchase your product or service.

Retreating in the situation, not from it

Perhaps the most powerful consequence of the rule of reciprocation is the obligation we feel to make a concession to someone who has made a concession to us first. Cialdini states,

To offer something and be denied, then offer something else of lesser value, creates an obligation on the part of the buyer to be more likely to concede and purchase from you.

This is called retreating in a negotiation. In contrast to retreating from a negotiation, in which after being denied you simply give, by retreating in the situation you position yourself to benefit from the principle of reciprocity.

Using a mail piece that offers access to information, or the promise of a free gift at your physical location will engage the principle of reciprocity and your potential clients will be more likely to do business with you. Making two offers, one large one and one smaller one is also a great way to implement the principle of reciprocity in your messaging in order to increase response rates.

To learn about how AMG builds mail pieces that utilize this principle of persuasion and others from Dr. Robert Cialdini, Contact Us, Request a Quote, or Request a Media Kit or call us at 800–648–3107.

Eric Weisgarber

Eric Weisgarber is the founder and President of Allegiant Marketing Group, Inc. His calling is helping business professionals grow their gross profits, net profits, and cash-flow through through marketing services, systems implementation and consulting. His business calling is aligned with his life\’s purpose – developing people and serving the community through discipleship.


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