Market Research and the Psychology of Influence

By the Editors

Today, expert copywriter and serial entrepreneur Yanik Silver contributed a fascinating piece to the Early to Rise newsletter. In the article, he breaks down a recent experience he had in an art gallery through the lens of Cialdini’s class book Influence. While his experience focuses more on the steps to crafting a compelling sales experience, there’s a lesson in the piece for market researchers as well. By understanding the different aspects of influence, market researchers can hone in on different parts of messaging and motivation that will drive their audience to buy.

Capture their attention: Silver talks about a trip to an art gallery. The staff person he interacted with gets his attention by sharing the story of the artist whose work he was checking out; specifically these were details about how the artist had worked on major shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants. By using the power of story, it’s easy to get people interested in your product and your background.

Have you identified aspects of your story and tested those with members of your audience to see what they find truly engaging? It could be how you started your business or instead focusing on the background of your products. Come up with a range of story points, and find out what resonates most effectively with your customers.

Social proof: The salesman then continued to list off a number of celebrities that owned paintings by the same artist. This implies that the buyer will be like these a-listers if they too buy. Social proof is a powerful tool that shows other people are buying the product or using the service.

A number of different forms of social proof exist, from celebrity endorsements to testimonials, social media statistics, and more. Do you know what kinds of social proof your audience will find most compelling? If not, this is worth exploring further in a systematic way. Proof will drive reluctant buyers to take action.

Authority: Cialdini highlights the importance of authority in getting people to make a purchase. While this terms is thrown around a lot in marketing today, the idea is that you prefer to buy from people who really understand your space. Silver’s salesman demonstrated this buy playing a video that talked about biographical elements of the artist’s life, his art, and the people who have bought and loved his paintings. What is your strategy for building authority? The best way to do this is twofold. First, you have to understand what your customers value.

Is it “how to” information? Maybe it’s broader information about your market or industry. The second is to understand how they consume information. Are they reading magazines, websites, or active on social media? By uncovering your customer’s’ habits and needs, you’ll be better able to design and execute a strategy that focuses on building your brand and authority.

In the end, Silver bought his painting. To learn more about this process, check out Cialdini’s book.