Author Dr. Cialdini’s research into the science of influence gives us a roadmap to write better copy. Let’s take a closer look at one of the six key principles of influence he’s identified: reciprocity.
For instance, let’s say a charity sends out two different versions of a letter requesting donations. The first describes what the charity will do with the money. The letter ends at that point. The second contains identical wording but closes with thanks for the forthcoming donation.
Principles of Influence
Best-selling author and professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, Robert Cialdini, suggests that a prospect receiving the second letter with the thank you will be much more likely to respond with a donation. Why?
That prospect will feel the urge to reciprocate.
Over just the written words “Thank you?”
Yes, science has shown even those unsolicited words create a feeling in the reader that they need to reciprocate.
In his research into why people say yes, Dr. Cialdini found six principles of influence: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. Cialdini goes into depth on the nature of these principles in his New York Times best-selling business book, Influence.
Of the six, I believe our ancient sense of deep-felt obligation or indebtedness-reciprocity may be the most potent influencer of them all.
Here’s why applying this principle can amp up your copy…