I have long been a big fan of Dr. Robert Cialdini. I originally became familiar with his work years ago through, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. It’s a must read. It gave me useful tools to use for marketing and taught me how to steal the spotlight away from competitors.

The key point is this:

No matter what business you’re in, ultimately what we’re trying to do is motivate people to do some behaviour that they weren’t doing before we came along.

In my previous blogs I covered Cialdini’s first two key principles of influence:

– Reciprocation – why gestures can be so effective in marketing.

– Commitment and Consistency – why reminding patients of their commitments ensures they exhibit the behaviours you want them to take.

This week I’m going to explain how to apply his third principle, social proof, in the context of acquiring and keeping patients. It’s one of the most powerful…

When people are uncertain of what to do, they look to other people around them in order to make a decision. Social proof is the idea that if we see other people taking action, then we will be inclined to take that action as well. We are social creatures, and it’s hard to overemphasise just how completely we are influenced by what we see other people around us doing.

For example, can you remember a time when you wanted to download a particular type of app for your cellphone? You went to the app store and did a general search. There were a number of different apps that came up, all of which were suitable for what you wanted. However, one of them had been downloaded 3.5 million times, one had been downloaded 17,000 times, and the rest just a few hundred times or less. Which one did you download first?

3.5 million people can’t be wrong… right?

So let’s talk about how this relates to your marketing. Your average target client will have no clue whatsoever about what you offer and no incline to move towards you. You have to interrupt their thought process and get them make a new decision and choose a new direction.

As humans we won’t move in a new direction unless we’ve got a degree of certainty that that’s the right decision to make. It’s a survival instinct; to keep the status quo rather than move in a new direction. That’s why most people never change their behaviours, even if they are painful and damaging to them.

So the question is how can you make patients feel more certain that moving towards you is the right decision? You need to give them the perception that this is what everybody else is doing. Video testimonials from satisfied patients show your target audience that people just like them have enjoyed your treatment and the experience you gave them. They’ll be more likely to become customers themselves.

A similar principle applies to television commercials that say: “If our lines are busy, please call again.” Instead of saying “Operators are standing by.” The first response implies that other people like your offer so much that the phone lines are busy, which may persuade others to act similarly.

In part four of this series, we take a look at a principle of influence that is very often overlooked, but crucial for building lasting connections with your patients…