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Why "Influence" is overrated
👉 shock, horror, I mean the much-revered book
When I was a kid I was a big snooker fan.
Bear with me on this by the way - I promise we’re going to end up with some useful marketing advice ;)
Every week I’d be glued to the telly for Pot Black. And when I could find anyone willing to play I’d jump on a bus over to the ‘tute in Ashington to grab a frame or two.
The problem was I was never all that good.
A few frames every other week just aren’t enough to get any good. Even when we got a pool table for Christmas one year my snooker didn’t improve that much.
One of my problems was I spent way too much time trying to do the clever stuff: applying side, deep screw or even trying to swerve the cue ball. And not enough time on the basics: actually potting balls.
In recent years in marketing we’ve become enamoured with trick shots.
Scarcity, social proof, reciprocity, the use of deadlines, prices that end in 7. An endless supply of exciting tweaks we can make to marketing to get better results.
And to be fair, these techniques have been proven to work. At least on psychology postgrads ;)
But just like fantastic positional play to get on a colour is no good if you don’t pot the red, using a deadline or scarcity or piling on the social proof to increase sales doesn’t have much impact on someone who just isn’t interested in the product.
The biggest determinant of whether someone is going to buy your product or service is whether they believe it will help them achieve a big important goal for them. And ideally, do it better than the alternatives they’re aware of.
Now I’m not saying that all happens consciously in some kind of hyper-rational decision-making process. Far from it.
Much of persuasion - especially persuasion through regular email newsletters - happens unconsciously.
Someone gives you useful tips each week and you try them out and they work, so over time you just come to believe they’re someone you can trust who knows their stuff when it comes to leadership.
And when every now and then they embed those tips in a little story about a client they helped, you just begin to feel that if they got great results for those clients, maybe they could for you too.
Now absolutely, if they send you an offer of a new program they’re running you’re more likely to buy if there are limited places and it’s got really strong testimonials.
But the real work of getting you ready to buy all happened way before that launch email.
It happened through a regular drip of valuable, entertaining emails that built credibility and trust and gently built the beliefs needed for you to be ready to buy. It got you to the point where you wanted that product when it was announced.
Only then can the clever psychological tricks like scarcity and social proof do their job and enhance your sales.
But focus only on the psychological nudges and you’ll end up like me playing snooker: clever cue ball movement but not many balls in pockets.
Instead, focus on the fundamentals first.
Think through what your ideal clients need to know and feel to be ready to buy. Think about what objections they might have. Touch on those in your emails week in, week out.
Then when you have something to offer, the clever stuff will be able to do it’s work.
Or maybe you won’t even need it.