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In addition to altering behavior with images, we found that words can have a similar effect. Consider a research study for introducing a to get the job done—an approach that stemmed from a feeling of collaboration rather than contentiousness. new soft drink to the market—admittedly not a simple feat with the mega-cola companies already dominating store shelves. We tested One person that does this better than anyone is the business tycoon consumers’ affinity for trying new products by posing an introductory Warren Buffet, who in many of his letters to shareholders will issue a question in two different ways. First, we asked a group of consumers “mea culpa,” taking responsibility for some mistake he has committed if they would be interested in trying the new product, positioned as a during the previous investment period. The effect of such a disarming brand new soft drink that had never before been on the market. Those statement is to immediately instill a sense of trust in the reader, as in, “If who responded positively would submit contact information and a free he is admitting to his mistake up front, he must be an honest guy.” Once sample would be sent to them. This approach scored a respectable 30 he has connected with his reader in this humbling way, Buffet could percent conversion rate. practically sell his reader the next Brooklyn Bridge. In the second approach, we asked a simple question at the top of the The takeaway from my research is that advertisers and other marketing material: “Are you an adventurous person?” The ad went on businesspeople are missing out on a golden opportunity: those critical to describe the product and free sample offer in much the same way as moments before you actually deliver your message. Everyone with in the first approach. But that simple challenge question dramatically something to sell—and that’s all of us, frankly—should invest in some improved consumers’ responses: the conversion rate for this approach simple research to see what messages motivate our customers to buy. nearly doubled that of the first, scoring a whopping 55 percent positive Would a change in your website background images do the trick? A new response rate. headline for your advertising campaign? What kind of trigger words, images and situations do the best job in getting your prospective A third way of communicating information prior to the introduction customers to convert? of your message is through context. For this example, a French experiment was conducted in which an attractive male approached a The answer will be different for every business, but it’s worth it to spend woman walking through a shopping mall and boldly asked for her phone some time trying to unlock the code that works best for yours. And number to arrange a date for some future time. This gentleman didn’t while you’re doing so, here’s another tip. In vetting your next campaign score too badly on this task, with around 13 percent of women offering idea, ask your co-workers for their advice, not their opinion. That small their phone numbers when the invitation took place in front of an change in wording will suggest collaboration and teamwork rather ordinary clothing boutique or shoe store. But would his results improve than essentially asking your colleague to turn inward to formulate a when the request was staged in front of one of the most romantic of response. In working together to brainstorm and experiment with new shops—a flower store? You guessed it. Our tester received phone marketing ideas, you can hone your skills of “pre-suasion” and soon see numbers from 24 percent of the women he asked in this scenario, nearly some very real results—right on your bottom line. double that of the first scenario. Essentially, the study found that even a hint of romance can beat risk under the right circumstances. Dr Cialdini Dr Cialdini is CEO and President of INFLUENCE AT WORK; focusing on ethical influence training, corporate keynote programs and the CMCT (Cialdini Method Certified Trainer) program. Dr Cialdini’s clients include such organizations as Google, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Bayer, Coca Cola, KPMG, AstraZeneca, Ericsson, Kodak, Merrill Lynch, Nationwide Insurance, Pfizer, AAA, Northern Trust, IBM, Prudential, The Mayo Clinic, GlaxoSmithKline, Kimberly- Clark, Harvard University – Kennedy School, The Weather Channel, the United States Department of Justice and NATO. I experienced this effect firsthand some years ago when approaching a contract renegotiation with a particularly thorny vendor. As usual, the meeting was slated to take place at the vendor’s office with groups in attendance from each of our two companies. Arriving early for the meeting, I made one simple change that dramatically altered the tenor of the meeting from contentious to cooperative. What was that change? Rather than our team sitting in a row on one side of the table, leaving the opposite row for the vendor’s team, we alternated seating, leaving spaces available for them in between our own chairs. What resulted was a complete sea change in how we worked together influenceatwork.com 21 21