6 Principles of Persuasion

Then Mints We Shall Serve: Six Small Ways to Make People Buy

Every entrepreneur wants to make an app that sells or sells their business.

It’s no accident what persuades us. Humans have evolved to take into consideration a few factors when making decisions, and our Stone Age minds haven’t changed very much. Psychology and marketing professor Robert Cialdini developed a theory of six universal principles of influence that make our guts say yes, even if our higher minds say no.

The Universal Principles of Influence:

Reciprocity. When servers give you something small, like a mint, with the check, you’re more likely to tip well. What about extra mints unexpectedly, just because they like you? You’ll open your wallet wider still. The social human brain wants to maintain social connections. It responds to unexpected, kind gestures and gifts of value with a desire to return the favor. Consider what gift you can give to your customers before you even try to get their money.

Think: What can my app give people to make them want to give me money in return?

Scarcity: The less readily available, the more people want it. For prehistoric man, which is more valuable: tubers, which can be dug up anywhere, or big game meat, which is more nutritious and tasty, but much harder to get? Making something available to everyone gives it a perceived lower value, no matter its actual monetary value. Make it scarce, and people think it must be more valuable.

Think: Will more people actually buy my app if I make it cheap or make it so generic anyone can use it?

Authority: Credentials actually make a difference. They can be academic or professional, but they can also be proof of success and experience. What’s important is to signal actual credentials; walking up to people and announcing that you’re a big deal is a turn-off. It’s better to introduce yourself as an authority through someone else.

But you better walk the walk if you’re going to get someone to talk the talk, as crackdowns on fake reviewers have lead to buyers becoming more suspicious and more savvy.

Think: What credentials do I have to make someone trust that this is a good app? How do I show it, not tell it?

Consistency: People prefer to act consistently with their previous behavior. If you get them to make small commitments, especially public commitments, you get them to make bigger commitments. Get them to agree in writing, even if it’s just typing in their email address to join a list.

Think: How do I get someone to make the first commitment: downloading the app? A lite version? A free trial?

Liking: Make people like you and create a connection. We like people who like us, especially ones who go out of their way to show it. Think about how you feel when someone pays you a compliment. You’re more inclined to want to do things for them because they’ve signaled that they like you.

When you meet someone, the first thing you do is look for common ground. This is how we find our people. What we buy identifies us with the people who also buy those things. Are you an IPhone or Android person? Do you drive a Civic or a Porsche?

We like people who cooperate with us. People want social harmony, and we want to be with people who put us at ease and want what’s best for all of us.

Think: How will I let my users know that I appreciate them and think they have impeccable taste in apps? How will I get them to cooperate with me and buy my app?

Consensus: People take social cues from other people, even ones they don’t know, or aren’t even present. There’s always a contrarian, but most people want to be part of the majority. When you know most other people do the thing, you do it. When you know that you could join the majority, you join them. When you’re told you’re joining a majority in a positive behavior for all, you’re much in favor of doing it.

Think: How do I generate enough of a genuine following or convey that downloading my app puts someone in the in-crowd?

You may have your development team make the greatest app in the world, but the real hurdle is getting people to buy it, use it, and promote it to other people. These six principles are easy, simple things we employ all the time as people in every other aspect of our lives. A server can increase their tips by including a simple mint with the check. Think about what mints you can serve with your app, because when it comes down to it, we serve mints all the time.


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