Well, why not?
They are the problem, right?
Here you are with a blog or a product or a charity you believe will change the world, and yet no matter how excited you are about the possibilities, no matter how much faith you have in yourself, you can’t help being worried:
You don’t know. You can’t know. And it bothers you.
Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just close your eyes, pop over into their mind, and seize control?
Yeah. Too bad it’s not possible …
Or is it?
As it happens, mind control is possible. Sort of.
No, you can’t turn your customers, partners, and in-laws into mindless zombies, but you can influence them.
In fact, there’s a science to it.
Back in the 1980s, a researcher by the name of Dr. Robert Cialdini wrote a book called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. He outlined different principles scientifically proven to influence people, as well as suggestions for how to do it.
Since then, it’s become maybe the most important book in the field of marketing. If you haven’t read it, you should, as well as the sequel.
Here’s the bad news:
Mind control isn’t about magic powers, arcane arts, or even shaving your head and gallivanting around in a wheelchair (although, I’ve been tempted). The truth is it’s about something that makes a lot of people squeamish: marketing.
The core of marketing isn’t customer profiling or market segmentation or any of the other complicated nonsense taught in most business schools.
It’s infinitely simpler than that, and it can be encapsulated in one word:
You ask a blogger for a link, and they say, “Yes.” You ask a partner to promote your product, and they say, “Yes.” You ask a customer for a testimonial, and they say, “Yes.”
If you get enough yeses, your blog/business/charity succeeds. If you don’t, it fails. It’s so simple, and yet so few of us really understand how to do it.
The good news?
You can learn.
What follows is a marketer’s guide to mind control. Use these seven strategies wisely.
The worst mistake you can make when asking anyone for anything is telling them to “Think it over.”
Here’s why: people already have too much to think about.
Between their jobs, their family, and their own hobbies and friends, their mind is already stuffed, like a suitcase bulging at the sides. Add one more sock, and the whole thing will explode.
To avoid it, they “forget” about things that aren’t very important to them, or if they do think about you, they don’t think very hard. It’s not because they are lazy or stupid. They’re just busy, and you’re probably not very high up the priority list.
And so the best strategy is to not ask them to think.
Do it for them.
Be specific. Explain your reasoning. Offer proof. Tell them what to do next and why.
If you do it right, it won’t feel like asking at all. It’ll be more like advising.
And they’ll say yes. Not because of magical powers of persuasion, but because you’ve thought through everything, and it’s a no-brainer.
Creating a successful marketing campaign is a lot like starting an avalanche.
First, you climb up the mountain, and then you find the biggest boulder at the top, and then you sweat and grunt and strain to push the boulder over, and then you sit down and watch happily as the boulder goes crashing into other boulders, eventually bringing the whole side of the mountain down.
The first big yes is a pain in the butt to get, but if you get it from the right person, then getting all of the subsequent yeses is easy.
Of course, a lot of marketers recommend taking the opposite approach.
They tell you to start from the bottom and work your way up because it’s easier.
But really, it’s just an illusion. Yes, pushing over a small rock is easier than pushing over a boulder, but the boulder is a lot more likely to cause an avalanche. So while it’s more work in the beginning to get top people to help you, it’s actually less work in the long run, and the results are far, far greater.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “Give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile,” right?
It’s supposed to be derogatory. It’s supposed to be a warning against appeasement. It’s supposed to protect you against getting taken advantage of.
But it’s also great marketing.
Whenever you’re asking for anything, never start by asking for everything upfront. Instead, start small. Make it easy to get started. Reduce the risk if it flops. Let them see the results for themselves.
And when it goes well, ask for more. And more. And more.
You might think that’s unethical, but if everything is going well, why not push for more? It’s not manipulation. It’s common sense.
It’s not psychological trickery or anything like that. It’s smart business. No one likes to risk everything upfront, and by offering progressive levels of commitment, your chances of getting them to say yes go through the roof.
The keyword is “real.”
All of us have had salesmen tell us, “Well, you’d better get back to me fast, because I have three more prospects coming this afternoon, and I don’t know how long it’ll last.” It’s BS, of course.
There are no clients, and there is no urgency. The salesman is just so desperate he’s willing to lie, not only costing him your trust, but probably the sale too.
And it’s not just salesmen.
How many times have other people handed you completely artificial deadlines, thinking it will motivate you to act? Our teachers do it, our bosses do it, our family does it, and without thinking about it, you’ve probably done it too.
Not only is it ineffective, but it’s totally unnecessary. Real urgency is easy to create. With a little thought, you can build it into your marketing. For example:
Will some of them bow out, saying they are too busy right now, and they’ll catch you next time?
Sure, but it’s better than never getting started it all. And if you let other people dictate timelines, that’s exactly what will happen.
You know you’re supposed to give before you get, right? But what you might not know is how much to give.
A lot of marketers mistakenly assume it’s a 1:1 ratio.
Before you ask for a link, you should give a link. Before you ask for promotion, you should give a promotion. Before you ask for a testimonial, you should do one thing that deserves a testimonial.
But that’s wrong. Smart marketers use a 10:1 ratio, and not just in action, but in value:
This isn’t about “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It’s about generosity so overwhelming they can’t say no.
Yes, it’s a lot of work, but that’s the price of influence.
Imagine there are two homeless guys standing on a street corner.
The first guy has a normal, run-of-the-mill sign saying, “Spare a few dollars? God bless you.” The second guy, on the other hand, has a much more unusual sign: “Can’t afford to feed my family, and it’s tearing me apart. Please help, so I can stop feeling like such an awful Dad.”
Which one would you be more likely to help? The second one, right?
Forget giving him a few bucks. With a sign like that, you’d take him to the grocery store and buy him $200 worth of groceries. I know I would.
That’s the power of standing for something bigger than yourself. It makes people care.
And it applies to everything:
Those are the types of things people want to talk about. They feel grateful just for having the chance to help you spread the word.
You want to know what separates a great marketer from a mediocre one?
I’m not referring to a lack of conscience, having a gregarious, extroverted personality, or any of the other ways we traditionally look at marketers. For the most part, those stereotypes are myths.
No, by shamelessness, I mean this:
An unshakable belief that what you are doing is good for the world and the willingness to do anything to bring it into being.
When you believe in your content, you don’t publish it and forget it. You promote it day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, working tirelessly to spread the message to everyone who needs to hear it, and refusing to rest until they do.
When you believe in your product, you don’t balk at sales. You revel in it. Not because you’re greedy or desperate or egotistical, but because you know your product will help them, and so it’s your duty to get them to buy. Whatever it takes.
When you believe in your charity, you don’t beg for donations. You demand them. You grab people by the shoulders and look them in the eyes and tell them what you’re doing is changing the world, and it’s time for them to step up and do their part.
It’s not about money. It’s not about glory. It’s not even about legacy.
It’s about falling in love. It’s about being enchanted. It’s about seeing a vision so beautiful you can’t help but fight to make it real.
Do you have a vision like that? Something worth getting up every day and fighting for?
If you do, you can accomplish damn near anything.
And if you don’t, well …
What’s the point?
About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger. If you’d like to learn what it really takes to become a popular blogger, check out his free videos on guest blogging.