Dr. Robert Cialdini Kickoff Keynote Speaker at Pubcon 2012

Dr. Robert Cialdini, bestselling author of Influence: Science & Practice was the kickoff keynote speaker at the Pubcon conference currently being held in Las Vegas. Dr. Cialdini is an expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation and is regarded as the “Godfather of influence”.

In his talk on the power of persuasion under conditions of uncertainty, Dr. Cialdini spoke of the six principles of influence:

1. Reciprocation:  Make the first move – invest in your customers and they will give back. Individuals feel like they must not take without giving in return.
In one example Dr. Cialdini talked about how tips went up by 3.3% when a mint was delivered with the bill and up 14% with two mints (it doesn’t work to have the mints by the cash register!).

 Be the first to give:

    • Service
    • Information
    • Concessions

2. Scarcity: The principle of scarcity “If I can’t have it, I want it”. Increase attractiveness without changing features by making it scarce.  What products or services do you offer that are unique or in low supply? Focus on these, as people will listen differently to the merits you are offering. Don’t offer too much information but isolate what is different for them.

Great examples are the new iPhone, iPad (long lines of shoppers), or even the limited offers on Groupon. 


  • Genuine Scarcity
  • Unique Features
  • Exclusive Information

3. Authority:  If an expert says it, it must be true. If people are unsure, they don’t look inside but rather outside – they look to authorities on the subject. 

Bose increased their sales by 45% by simply modifying the tag line on their promotional materials, and saw an additional increase by adding testimonials in the left-hand side bar for potential customers to read. 

 Establish position through:

  • Professionalism
  • Industry Knowledge
  • Your Credentials
  • Admitting Weaknesses First

4. Commitment/Consistency: Be consistent in what you’ve said and done.

A Chicago restaurant was having issues with people making reservations and then not showing up (no-shows).  By changing “please call if you have to change your reservation” to “will you please call us if you have to change your reservation” dropped their no shows from 32% to 10% with just two words. Having people make a public and visible commitment makes them more accountable.


  • Small and build
  • With existing commitments
  • From public positions
  • Toward voluntary choices

5. Liking – Tell people who you are – be personal. People are more receptive and say “yes” to others who they know and like, so connect with your clients or visitors. For online you need to provide information about who you are on your website, and a great place to provide that information is on your “About Us” page.  A fun inclusion is to provide your top three driveway songs (you know the songs that make you sit in your car until their done playing).


  • Similarities
  • Areas for genuine compliments
  • Opportunities for cooperation

6. Consensus – People proof, people power. People look to peers – those around them that are like them as it reduces uncertainty. 98% of online purchasers read reviews prior to purchase. Tell customers what’s popular.

Unleash people power by showing:

  • Responses of many others
  • Others’ past successes
  • Testimonials of similar others

According to Dr. Cialdini, marketers can focus to heavily on economic factors (competitive pricing, rebates, etc.) when seeking to motivate customers for their products.

They would do well, as well, to consider employing psychological motivators such as those noted above.

There is more information on these six principles at http://www.insideinfluence.com.




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