Up until the 1960’s, little research had been done on the impact of consistency and commitment in marketing and sales. Then, two Stanford University professors published a research paper Compliance Without Pressure: The Foot-in-the-Door Technique that laid the foundation for what eventually became Dr. Robert Cialdini’s consistency principle of persuasion. The study arrived at two conclusions that have a big impact when used in your next direct mail marketing campaign.
- Involvement creates compliance. Getting a prospect to agree to answer questions, or better yet having them actually answer the questions, will increase their compliance with future requests.
- When a prospect complies with a smaller request, there is a 45% to 75% increase in compliance with a larger request, even if that request is dissimilar to the original request or made by a different person.
Commitment is the Secret of Consistency
Consistency is an adaptive behavior. Doing things the same way over and over again or maintaining the same ideas about things creates consistency and a near automatic process for making decisions. Dr. Cialdini states,
Once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.
Getting a prospect involved and keeping them involved, then getting them to make a commitment, no matter how small, is a great way to turn a prospect into a client. People value actions over words. Once an action has been taken, people tend to take further action that is consistent with their previous actions. This process within out human behavior leads to commitments that are consistent with our actions.
Using Direct Mail to Create Commitment and Consistency
A recent direct mail marketing campaign for an automotive client uses a series of rhetorical questions to help create a small set of commitments to trigger the principle of consistency. The first question is simple, “Wouldn’t you like to own this year’s same model vehicle you have today and pay less per month for it?” The answer is obviously, “Yes” and in the process of reading the mail piece most people will answer that question in their mind. Asking the prospect if they would like to, “Come in, get a free oil change, and test drive the new model while they wait,” triggers them to say, “Yes” again. Because the direct mail piece has already established a pattern of saying, “Yes” thus triggering the principle of consistency, having a call to action that asks the prospect to call and set the appointment for their free oil change is likely to see a much higher response rate.
Want to learn more about Dr. Cialdini’s principles of persuasion and how they can help you see an increase in response rate and ROI on your next direct mail marketing campaign? Contact Us, Request a Quote, or Request a Media Kit or call us at 800–648–3107.