A while back I was taking a shortcut through the Soho district in London to go to see a client. If you haven’t been to Soho, you should give it a try if you are ever in the UK. It’s not to everyone’s taste but if you like vibrant, bustling places with lots of bars and clubs, it’s definitely the place for you.
As I walked my usual walk, a quick pace and head up, taking in the surrounding sights, I noticed a big poster stuck on the inside of the window of a casino. We’ll I say casino but it wasn’t really a casino, more of a gambling arcade. You know what I mean, a small place with a collection of slot machines pinging and flashing in such a way to entice you to feed it your hard-earned coin.
The posted was a simple affair, white background and big black lettering you could only miss if you were blindfolded.
“Free Hot Soup and Bread Roll”
I kept on walking, but the simple message struck a chord with me. On my way home that day I sat on the train and thought about that poster.
Was this a supreme act of generosity to the local community, offering soup and bread for free, or was it actually a cynical ploy to draw unsuspecting punters into their web. As a good soul I would like to think it was the former, a fantastic act of generosity on behalf of the casino. But the Evil Marketer side of me can’t help admire the possible alternative motive behind the offer.
Cialdini has taught us that when someone gives us something, we are predisposed to feel a need to repay our debt to that person (reciprocity). So a free soup and sandwich may get repaid by popping a few coins in a machine.
But there could also be a deeper, darker side to this offer.
Research has shown that people make decisions that are heavily influenced by their current emotions.
So when your emotional state is negative, you are more inclined to consider a specific activity as being higher risk and low benefit. Conversely, when you are in a positive emotional mood, you are more likely to view a specific activity as beneficial and lower risk.
In cognitive psychology this is known as Affect Heurisitic. Affect is a psychological term for emotional response, and Heurisitic is a mental shortcut that allows people to make decisions quickly and efficiently.
So receiving free soup and a bread roll will not only feed you, it will also bring into play a subconscious need to return the favour and put you in a positive mood. So if after finishing your soup you were then presented with an opportunity to take an action, for example try your luck on a new machine, or place a bet, or buy something, or simply sign up to something, you will be more likely to agree to the action than disagree.
And even better news for Evil Marketers, the Affect Heuristic decisions are heightened when people do not have the opportunity to reflect on the action. So the faster they need to take the decision, the more likely it will be influenced by their psychological mood.
HOW TO USE THIS
- Teach your audience something important. Make them feel good about themselves> Show them the positive possibilities.
- Use urgency triggers to heighten the Affect Heurisic decision – ‘Act Now’, ‘Limited Time Only’, ‘Today Only’, and countdown timers.
- Balance every negative with a strong positive. So for example describe the upside of each risk… ‘whilst we cannot promise you will have the same success we have had, we know that many of our clients have reached 7-figures and beyond.’
- Strike Fast! Give your audience a good feeling and then immediately hit them with an ‘ask’. Timing is everything so strike while the ‘good feeling’ is hot!