I ‘ve just finished reading Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive by Cialdini et al. It’s a followup to Influence and, while not as good as the latter work, is still a worthwhile addition to any marketer’s bookshelf.
The book is organised into 50 vignettes of around 3 or 4 pages each on scientifically validated methods of persuasion. To me, one of the most useful chapters was on the effect that “Third Party Endorsement” can have on persuading others, even when the “endorser” is obviously closely connected with the “endorsed”.
It’s well known that it is more effective to have a third party endorse you than to sing your own praises. But what surprised me is how the “endorser” doesn’t have to be a “separate” from you as you might think. (Psychologists call this the fundamental attribution error: when observing another person’s behaviour, we tend not to give sufficient weight to the role situational factors (e.g. money) play in shaping that person’s behaviour.)
In one study, the researchers had a receptionist in the rentals department of a real estate office handle incoming enquiries in one of two ways:
- The “non-endorsed” version When an incoming call came in, the receptionist would simply respond, “Oh, rentals, you need to speak to Judy”.
- The “endorsed” version When an incoming call came in, the receptionist gave a mini-endorsement of Judy’s skills: “Oh, rentals, you need to speak to Judy, who has over fifteen years’ experience rending properties in this neighborhood.