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The Six Pillars of Persuasion: B2B Marketing Applications in the Digital Age

Hate to call it what it is as we might, marketing is the profession of persuasion. While some are born salesmen, convincing you to buy ten things you don’t need and donate ten things you can’t afford to lose before you realize, others may need a little more prepping to do so.

Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., a professor and national bestselling author of what many recognize to be the bible of marketing, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, has six tactics that achieve “a distinct kind of automatic, mindless compliance from people, that is, a willingness to say yes without thinking first.”

These six “weapons of influence” make up the perfect formula for a well-rounded marketing approach to reaching any business’s prospective customers/clients. Below is an application example for each, sure to drive optimal marketing results in today’s growingly digital age of business-to-business relations.

  1. Commitment and Consistency -- A consistent level of commitment to customer success and satisfaction with your business, especially as the industry shifts its services and associated relational expectations from offline to online, is vital for retention purposes.What are some ways to do this? Bridge the gap left by that regular in-person interaction no longer being had with a CRM system that has a holistic set of insights into the customer’s needs. Also instill an intuitive digital marketing program that hits them with what they want, custom to the customer’s specific, changing needs.
  2. Reciprocation -- Want help in getting the word out around your business’s current initiatives? So does everyone else. Help yourselves by first helping them, and karma will work its way back around-- follow and retweet/repost companies, individual professionals and clients in your own network. The rule of reciprocity will work in your favor to amplify your own voice and reach as a company in return.
  3. Social Proof -- Evidence that the phrase, “well everyone else is doing it,” is very effective in its nature. Being able to prove that a trend is growing in the direction that points to the need for your business or services goes far in influencing your target prospects to then convert them into leads.A great tactic for marketers to achieve this effect is to conduct a data study where they survey businesses or consumers to prove the value in their business model. This can then be marketed on the web to prospects that have either visited your company’s website before with PPC (pay-per-click) remarketing ads or pushed out onto target websites where you know your prospects frequently visit, such as target trade publications.
  4. Authority -- Show them you know what you are talking about and that you are the expert of all industry experts to be trusted in your field. In posing your company’s executives as thought leaders, both in the space your business practices, and in the specific roles they hold-- the most forward-thinking CIO across the industries-- your company can quickly elevate its credibility.
  5. Liking -- Being well-liked, or at least well-received, really does go a long way. This is why the businesses that have the most personality are a favorite by the majority. And since being well-liked translates to being more naturally trusted, demonstrating an attractive personality is a characteristic a business will want to aspire to.How can this be accomplished, one will ask? B2B firms will want to skip the mascot, but have a distinct brand with an aesthetically pleasing logo, clean, user-friendly website, an approachable executive suite, and a charismatic voice that is used consistently across all channels.
  6. Scarcity -- The idea of “available for a limited time,” is a common marketing tactic for a reason. The fear of missing out, FOMO if you will, is real-- especially when it comes to missing out on opportunity to grow your business. So as B2B firms market their products or services to other businesses, it is smart for them to emphasize that if these other businesses don’t act now, the window of opportunity will close for them to benefit as fully as their competitors.In retail, for example, there is this quiet, time-sensitive race to win over more customers of the pot as an increasing number of retailers see the value of investing in retail technology that better serves their customers--especially those who shop online. The ones who realize this faster will be the ones that best succeed in doing so.