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Keep on giving; the favour will be repaid


Studies have revealed that the marketing model of reaching consumers using gifts is more powerful, and much cheaper than traditional advertising.

Kurt W Mortensen, in his book “Maximum Influence,” shared a story of a film developing company that thrived on the rule of Obligation. They would send a roll of film in the mail, along with a letter to explain that the film was a free gift. The letter then outlined how the recipient should return the film to their company to be processed. Even though a number of local stores could process the film at a far lower price, most people ended up sending it to the company that had sent them the film. The technique worked, because the company’s “pre-giving incurred a sense of obligation to repay the favour.

Mortensen said pre-giving is effective, because it makes us feel like we have to return the favour. The more indebted we feel, the more motivated we are to eliminate the debt.

This principle is called reciprocity and Dean Rieck, in his article ‘Influence and Persuasion: The Rule of Reciprocity,’ gave five suggestions on how to put reciprocity at work for you.

1. Be the first to give something. In all circumstances, the person who gives first is in control.

2. Do not allow your gift giving to degenerate into an obvious ploy.

3. Give something that is valuable, substantial, and truly helpful.

4. Put a personal face on your gift. It is easier to feel indebted to a real person than a faceless corporate entity.

5. Keep on giving. Reciprocity is more than a technique to close a sale. The key is to create a feeling of debt and to maintain that feeling of debt.

We often see reciprocity at work when companies give free calendars, bags, pens, mugs… When done right, it is a powerful marketing tool that can attract new customers and strengthen the relationship of existing customers.

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