Since 1984, marketers, business owners and others have strived to leverage Dr. Robert Cialdini’s landmark piece, The Six Principles of Influence in their advertising and branding strategies. True to its name, the book has been one of the most influential works in history. Cialdini’s latest book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, introduces the seventh principle of “Unity”. Interesting enough, Cialdini said he is bringing forth the latest principle, not because of some new cultural phenomenon or technological shift, but because it was hiding beneath the surface of his data all along.
Neuromarketing recently published a blog post written by its founder, Roger Dooley, regarding the seventh principle’s significance and meaning. According to Dooley, Cialdini describes unity as the act of ensuring that the influencer and influencee are connected by a shared identity. Whether it be a common background, education, extra-curricular activity or workplace, when people perceive others are like them, they are more likely to be influenced by these individuals.
Dooley adds that the most powerful manifestation of unity is being in the same family, and Cialdini shows how you can use family-driven unity, even when you are trying to influence people who aren’t your own relatives.
For example, Cialdini found in his research, that including a cue that made the subject believe they were helping their family, increased response rates from below 20 percent to 97 percent. He stated that words such as “children” and “mother” contained within campaign copy will immediately evoke familial unity. Unity does not only mean family, either, as Dooley pointed out that suggesting audience members complete tasks – such as building furniture – together, can have similar impacts.
This type of outcome may not be matched every time, but finding ways to evoke those familial ties can go a long way toward improving engagement among customers. To be clear, the unity concept can only be achieved when the advertiser makes the potential customer feel they are acting with a group-mentality shared among family and friends.
So how can marketers use the unity principle beyond the family context? Conversionxl discusses how Cialdini talked about how unity can be embodied by both “join the group” and “be one of the few” concepts. When advertisers use specific jargon and differentiate themselves by conveying exclusivity of their products or services, it creates a sense of unity. The goal is to define the out-group, by positioning yourself as not being like the competition. Conversionxl provided the examples of the Marines when connoting the idea of “the few, the proud”, and Planet Fitness with their “judgement free zone” and “lunk alarms” that solidify their hard stance against loud, aggressive bodybuilder types.
While focusing on the out-group can be highly effective, it can also be ineffective if you completely alienate people. Often, simply leveraging how and why your products are different can be what works with customers.
It is important to remember that unity, as well as the other six principles, can be used for a range of commercial strategies and objectives. Forbes argued that these psychology-based lessons are imperative for virtually all corporate programs, both internal and external, when leaders want to be more scientific in their approaches to management.
So, I would have to suggest reading “Pre-Suasion,” which contains more than 400 pages of sheer brilliance from the man himself, Dr. Cialdini, and using those tenets to guide strategies and decision making in any business.