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The consistency principle
2010-07-09: We want to believe we are acting consistently with our past acts and statements, according to our own life rules. Acting outside of our own principles makes us uncomfortable.
People live up to what they have publicly stated and to what they have written down.
How many times have you followed a self improvement programme that asks you to write down your goals or tell your friends what you're doing?
In sales and marketing, we use this principle in a number of ways, one of which is the thin end of the wedge technique.
If I can get you to ask me a question about Internet marketing .. what's behind that? Or even just to follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. It's the first step. It's easy to do. But you've set up a path of consistency.
So if, later, I say I have a free download, you might think .. well, why did I follow this guy if I didn't want his free downloads? It's fine to download his report because obviously I think he's an alright guy or I wouldn't have followed him.
Later if I want you to pay just, say, £5 for a course, again, that would be consistent with your earlier behaviours .. and on it goes. Of course, I have to provide value all the way.
Watch out for the aftersale "do you want batteries with that?" and realise what's going on. Once you've made the commitment to buy that lovely new iPhone, why wouldn't you also want a carry case for it, and a car charger? And now you're in iPhone world, you'll obviously want apps and since you made that commitment to buying the coolest phone on the planet, you won't want to be left behind when the next version comes out because that would be inconsistent with your publicly visible i-image .. i-imagine the shame!
Is this something you can use in your business? Have you ever ordered a Mac from the Mac store? Fine, the Mac is, what .. £599 or so .. then there's page after page of: software, insurance, extra memory, cards and accessories, iLife and so on that could easily double your purchase price. You've committed to the initial purchase .. the rest is consistency.
Have a think about how you could use this in your business. Are you showing accessories alongside products? Once someone's bought something from you, what else might they buy from you .. in the moment between saying they'll buy and paying .. on the thank-you page (sign up for our mailing list / follow us on Twitter) .. in the days afterwards .. in the years afterwards? What is your programme for keeping in touch with your customers?
Apparently the toy industry uses this. That hot, must-have Christmas toy that you promised for little Jemima is out of stock in the toyshop .. you can't get it, so you buy something similar, maybe from the same manufacturer, that just happens to be in stock and on display in the shop. But you promised her the must-have toy. Come Boxing Day, like magic, it's in stock. So you buy it. Because you said you would. Hey presto, you just bought two gifts where before you were only going to buy one.
I'm not condoning that. If I hand you a pen you can write a love letter or a hate letter. I'm just giving examples of the principle in use. One of my principles is that I stand by marketing as a force for good.
Anyway, I have my copy of Influence: Science and Practice on order, I'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, why not follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook.

By John Allsopp
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