Reciprocity – The Secret to Higher Conversion

Reciprocity - The Secret to Higher Conversions

Give Before Your Ask to Get More Prospects to Say “Yes” to Your Offers

In his landmark book Influence, Robert Cialdini identified six powerful levers of persuasion that make buyers more likely to say “yes” to your offer. The first of these, and arguably one of the most powerful, is Reciprocity.

About Reciprocity

Reciprocity is a powerful effect that influences our decision-making in often unseen ways. It’s based on the notion that if you give someone a gift, then they are much more likely to say “yes” to something that you ask in return. What’s even more compelling about this phenomena is that it seems to take effect even if the gift is small and inconsequential compared to what you are asking for.

One study in the Journal of the American Medical Association provides a stunning example of this effect in action. In it doctors were offered a cheap lunch and no other incentive by pharmaceutical sales representatives. These doctors were found to be much more likely to prescribe the rep’s brand name drugs to their patients. Bear in mind, these doctors on average made between $227K – $600K a year. The cheap lunch had an outsized impact on the sales of these drugs. Amazingly, this was all happening  without any awareness on the part of the doctors.

The Rule of Reciprocity

This leads us to our next rule of marketing, The Rule of Reciprocity. This rule states that before you ask for something, you should give something. When you do, your prospects are going to be up to 5x more likely to say “yes.” This is even true when you ask them to do something important (i.e. like buy from you).

When coupled with another rule, The Rule of the Little Yeses, it can have a powerful impact on your sales. I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though. We’ll be talking about The Rule of the Little Yeses in an upcoming post. But suffice it to say that together these two rules can make it up to 10x more likely for a prospect to say “yes” to your offer.

Great Content is the Key

So now that you understand the impact that The Rule of Reciprocity can have on your sales, you’re probably wondering how best put it into action. The short answer is by offering up gobs of great content. Content that your prospects will appreciate. Content that your prospects will engage with. And content that will keeping them coming back for more time and time again.

Content works so well in triggering reciprocity for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that in our information economy practical knowledge is highly valued. If you can help a prospect make a better decision, feel good about that decision, and empower them and their business to be more successful, it’s an amazing gift. One that makes your prospects more likely to trust you and buy from you.

How to Get Started

So now that you understand the role that great content plays in leveraging the effects of reciprocity, you’re probably wondering where to begin. Well, every market is different in terms of the type of content that they will find valuable and engaging. So the first thing that you need to do is to ask yourself three questions:

  • Who is my ideal customer?
  • What types of challenging questions are they asking themselves (especially as it relates to my products and services)?
  • How can I help answer these questions?

Later on in our series, we’ll discuss how best to share this valuable information with your prospects in order to generate a powerful growth effect for your business. In the meantime, focus on answering these questions. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to customers and prospects that you know. Ask them what sorts of questions they’re struggling to answer. Then validate what you hear with some good old fashioned search engine research. Google Trends, for example,  is a great free tool to help you validate what your customers are telling you.

Finally, please remember that this is not a one-and-done exercise. Market dynamics and the questions that your prospects are asking themselves changes all the time. So it’s important that you build a continual process of content discovery into your company’s DNA. A little bit of ongoing effort in talking to customers and validating what they tell you will go a long way towards helping you grow your sales.

I look forward to connecting with you in our next installment. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. You can reach me at [email protected] I’m always happy to help.


Triggering reciprocity in your marketing.

Dave Geada
CEO, Big Purple Fish

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