New Business

Published on July 12, 2017

The most challenging of phases is acquiring new accounts!  But the focus MUST be on this for the first several years… as without accounts, there is obviously no income.  There are so many things to think about and do in the start up phases… but your number one priority should be creating relationships with schools!

The Six Principles of Influence

The six principles of Influence (also known as the Six Weapons of Influence) were created by Robert Cialdini, Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. He published them in his respected 1984 book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

Cialdini identified six principles through experimental studies, and by immersing himself in the world of what he called “compliance professionals” – sales people, fund raisers, recruiters, advertisers, marketers, and so on. (These are people skilled in the art of convincing and influencing others.)

You can use these principles whenever you want to influence or persuade others.

First make sure you understand the people in your audience and why you want to influence them. Think about your ultimate objectives, and decide which principles will be most useful in your situation.  The six principles are:

1.     Reciprocity

As humans, we generally aim to return favors, pay back debts, and treat others as they treat us. According to the idea of reciprocity, this can lead us to feel obliged to offer concessions or discounts to others if they have offered them to us. This is because we’re uncomfortable with feeling indebted to them.

For example, if a colleague helps you when you’re busy with a project, you might feel obliged to support her ideas for improving team processes. You might decide to buy more from a supplier if they have offered you an aggressive discount. Or, you might give money to a charity fund raiser who has babysat your kids.

How to Apply the Tool

Donuts, Cookies, Cupcakes!  Seriously… they work! Offer to do a shoot with no obligation for whoever might sign up with no minimum sign-ups required.   Offer to take photographs of their operations for them to use for their website or marketing material.  Offer to take staff photos for their website or staff board.  Once you complete this shoot, ask about next season’s picture schedule.   Remember, you can sometimes use this principle by simply reminding the other person of how you have helped them in the past (i.e. donuts).

2.  Commitment (and Consistency)

Cialdini says that we have a deep desire to be consistent. For this reason, once we’ve committed to something, we’re then more inclined to go through with it.  For instance, you’d probably be more likely to support a colleague’s project proposal if you had shown interest when he first talked to you about his ideas.

How to Apply the Tool

Here, try to get people’s commitment early on, either verbally or in writing.

For example, talk about school support ideas early on with Directors, and take their comments and views into account.  Here, letting us take pictures using reciprocity is the early commitment, even though they have the right to deny us photography sessions later.

3.     Social Proof

This principle relies on people’s sense of “safety in numbers.”

We’re more likely to work late if others on our team are doing the same, put a tip in a jar if it already contains money, or eat in a restaurant if the parking lot is full. Here, we’re assuming that if lots of other people are doing something, then it must be OK.  We’re particularly susceptible to this principle when we’re feeling uncertain, and we’re even more likely to be influenced if the people we see seem to be similar to us. That’s why commercials often use moms, not celebrities, to advertise household products.

How to Apply the Tool

You can use this principle by creating a “buzz” around your business.  Work on generating support from influential people at the school.  These may not always be managers; they could be PTA Presidents or very vocal parents.  Highlight the number of people using SRP.  Use plenty of relevant testimonials, encourage people to talk about us using social media, and publish testimonials from customers to demonstrate our success.

4.     Liking

Cialdini says that we’re more likely to be influenced by people we like. Likability comes in many forms – people might be similar or familiar to us, they might give us compliments, or we may just simply trust them. Companies that use sales agents from within the community employ this with huge success. People are more likely to buy from people like themselves, from friends, and from people they know and respect.

How to Apply the Tool

To build good relationships, ensure you put in the time and effort needed to build trust and rapport with clients and people you work with, and behave consistently.  Develop your emotional intelligence and active listening skills, and remember there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to relating to others.  Find something you have in common early on, then speak at the rate they speak, look them in the eye and be sure to not interrupt.  If they are southern, turn on your accent. If they are all business, don’t make jokes.

Also, don’t try too hard to be liked by others – people can always spot a phony!

5.     Authority

We feel a sense of duty or obligation to people in positions of authority. This is why advertisers of pharmaceutical products employ doctors to front their campaigns, and why most of us will do most things that our manager requests.  Job titles, uniforms, and even accessories like cars or gadgets can lend an air of authority, and can persuade us to accept what these people say.

How to Apply the Tool

Here you can use both your own authority, and the authority of the brand, as influencers. When you use your own authority, be careful not to use it negatively. To use authority, get support from influential and powerful people, and ask for their help in backing your photography business. Highlight well-known and respected customers, use comments from industry experts, and talk about impressive statistics, i.e. average return to the school or consistency of parent satisfaction.

6.     Scarcity

This principle says that things are more attractive when their availability is limited, or when we stand to lose the opportunity to acquire them on favorable terms.  For instance, we might buy something immediately if we’re told that it’s the last one, or that a special offer will soon expire.

How to Apply the Tool

With this principle, people need to know that they’re missing out if they don’t act quickly.  You can use urgency to get support if the decision is delayed. Perhaps you only have a few more dates available to shoot or you are already booking Spring in October! Only mention your limited availability if it is true!