Thursday, 17 November 2016

Lessons from Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion

As business owners we need to know almost as much about sales and marketing as we do about our chosen therapy. Generally, therapists are brilliant at helping their clients but sometimes find the sales and marketing side of their business a little trickier.

There are a lot of wonderful resources available to help us with promoting our business. A classic book, highly regarded in entrepreneurial circles, is 'Influence - The Psychology of Persuasion' by Robert Cialdini.

In today's blog post we'll aim to summarise the messages in this book and give you practical advice on how these strategies can be applied specifically to a therapy business.

Lesson 1 - Reciprocation

Potential clients will be more likely to pay for treatment with you if they have first received something from you. As people, we like to feel that things are fair. For example, if someone gives you a present for your birthday, you would feel very uncomfortable if you did not reciprocate the favour when it was theirs. If we receive something, we are more likely to give something back and this also applies in business. To put this into practice, offer something small as a freebie to your potential clients, perhaps a free digital product or free introductory session. The people who take up your freebie offer are far more likely to become proper customers. You can offer this on your website, newsletters and social media pages.

Lesson 2 - Commitment and consistency

A strange quirk in our nature, is that once we have made a statement about who we are or what we believe, we are very reluctant to change that, even if there is considerable evidence that our initial decision was incorrect. This could be because we want to save face, we don't want to appear hypocritical and we don't like uncertainty or conflict within ourselves. A good example of this is someone who makes a public commitment vs someone who only makes it in their own mind. Using weight loss as an example, a person who tells all their friends and colleagues that they are going to lose 3 stone and compete in a 10k run is far more likely to be successful than the person who just tells themselves they will do it. Again, we can use this as part of our marketing strategy. Run a free workshop for potential clients. Anyone who attends that workshop is making a public commitment that they are open minded about your specific type of therapy and the trust you as the therapist. Deliver great content in this workshop and at the end of the event, invite people to work with you in an one on one basis. An event of this type also utilises the rule of reciprocity.

Lesson 3 - Social Proof
When we make decisions we look for evidence that society agrees with our decisions. Would you go to a restaurant if everyone told you it was terrible? The rise of sites such as Tripadvisor show us how much we value social proof. The simple way to use social proof in your business, is to ask previous clients for testimonials. Once you have a collection of positive testimonials from your existing clients, you can quote them on your website, social media pages, newsletters etc.

Lesson 4 - Liking
This lesson is self-explanatory. A therapeutic relationship is a unique one. Potential customers will often feel vulnerable before they come to see you.  Before they will work with you, clients need to like and trust you. Social media is a great way to gain their like and trust. Just be yourself on social media. Engage with your audience. Talk about the things you are passionate about and believe in.

Lesson 5 - Authority
Building on the idea of trust, clients want to feel confident that you can help them with their issue. They want to see you as an expert in your field, an authority figure. There are lots of practical ways you can create this authority as a therapist. Write a book, being a published author (you can self-publish) creates a lot of kudos and presents you as an authority. Do a feature on local TV or radio. Or publish an article in an industry journal.

Lesson 6 - Scarcity
This rule is used in retail all the time,
"Sale ends tomorrow,"
"Only three left in stock."
Sales messages like these motivate customers to make a decision and buy the product. This marketing strategy has been around for a long time because it works. Apply these strategies to your own business. When you run a special offer, have a clear end date for it. Imply that you are very busy (even if you're not) and can only take on a limited number of new clients. This galvanizes people who are thinking about it to make a decision.

These very valuable business skills are described in far more detail in the original book, "Influence - The Power of Persuasion,' by Robert Cialdini.

You can purchase it from Amazon below.

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