Debt is a powerful persuader. In the second part of our series on persuasion, I'm going to tell you how the idea of reciprocation can bring you more dental patients.
Reciprocity is the first of six key principles of influence identified by Dr. Robert Cialdini. The idea is very simple: if someone does something for you, you feel obligated to do something in return.
This is based on the idea that people don't want to feel indebted to you. It also has an element of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Or in less poetic language: there is no free lunch.
During a recent webinar in which Dr. Cialdini spoke, he gave the example of a test that offered one set of participants a $50 reward after they filled out a voluntary survey and offered a second set of participants a $5 check whether they filled out the survey or not.
Results showed that 23 percent of those who could get the $50 reward filled out the survey.
Here's what's amazing: 52 percent of those who got the $5 up front filled out the survey, and a large portion of those who didn't even cashed the check.
Think about examples in your own life: cable television companies give you free access to premium channels hoping you will like them. You can get free samples at the grocery store. Even charities will send you "free" address labels with their solicitation letters.
All so you will feel a sense of obligation!
So the question is, how can you use this to your advantage? What can you offer in advance that will turn a potential patient into a paying patient?
Your knowledge and expertise!
We advise our clients to provide as much information as they can to potential clients who visit their website. That may be an electronic or paper book, newsletter, free report, DVD or anything the patient would find of value.
It may also be videos on your website that let people get to meet you and your staff. It may be providing information via blog posts.
Now, there are lots of other reasons for doing these things as well, and they come at a very little cost. Most of these freebies also hit one or more of the other keys to persuasion:
Reciprocity: The topic of today's blog
Liking: People prefer to say yes when they know and like someone.
Consensus: People decide what to do based on what other people like themselves do.
Authority: People want to follow the advice of experts.
Consistency: People want to follow through on their written and verbal commitments.
Scarcity: People want what they perceive to be in short supply.
We do the same thing. I offer a free website audit to anyone who asks. I follow up with additional emails and reports. Our website pages offer tons of great information about what dentists should be doing to attract the patients they want.
Even this blog is posted on our website for free, and it is full of information dentists could use to improve their marketing – if they want to put in all the time and work (but most would rather focus on patients, so they leave the marketing to us).
Next time we'll focus on the second principle of persuasion Dr. Cialdini presented during the webinar: liking.