Robert Cialdini’s, Influence – the psychology of persuasion is one of the all time classic books on marketing psychology. Although originally written in the 1980s, digital marketing gurus refer to it today as a digital marketing mantra. It really is an amazing book. One that can change your  perspective on the world around us, as well as boost your marketing skills enormously. Amongst other things, Cialdini reveals how brain washing American Soldiers occurs and most interestingly, Cialdini makes a plea at the end of the book to boycott TV programmes with false laughter (as we are being manipulated!). Anyways, here’s Cialdini’s 6 rules of persuasion distilled onto one page. Essential stuff in our quest to answer customer question number 2 (‘Why do they buy/not buy or visit /not visit) from the big 3 customer questions which form a large part of the Situation Analysis in any plan. 

Situation Analysis Customer Analysis Has 3 Key Questions. Here’s the first:

1. Why do your customers buy/not buy?  

To answer this we need to understand motivation and persuasion. Here’s the masterpiece by Robert Cialdini and his 6 Rules of Persuasion – they help to answer this big question (particularly when applied online).

Two arms outstretched with fingers almost touching
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The art of persuasion has many dimensions








 1.   Reciprocity‘if I do something for you, you will probably do something for me’   e.g. free samples 
 2.   Liking – People are easily persuaded by other people they like e.g. ‘like’ my page (hence physical attractive staff in a store)  
 3.    Social proofing – People will do things what they see others do e.g. product  ratings on a web site; Linkedin Endorsements & Recommendations, Customer Comments
 4.   Scarcity – the products that are almost out of stock are the most attractive ones e.g. only 3 rooms left; 2 seats left on plane
 5.   Commitment – If people commit, orally or in writing, to an idea or goal, they  are more likely to honor that commitment  e.g. Amazon’s wish list 
 6.   Authority – People do what authorities or experts (will) do e.g. Expert Recommendations; Awards; Qualifications; Trade Body Memberships

Cialdini, R (1984, 2007) Influence – the psychology of persuasion, Collins

The ‘Why?’ question is arguably the most difficult of the 3 key customer questions, which you must be able to answer as a world-class marketer. Why do people buy or not buy? Why do they visit your site once but not return? Why did they visit a competitor’s site? Why did they visit a second time but not complete their purchase? Why did Trump win? Why did BREXIT happen (see The Dark Web & Subliminal Seduction)?

Carole Cadwalladr TED Talk
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Carole Cadwalladr TED Talk explores how data, images and ads in the dark-web influenced voters to vote for BREXIT without them really knowing why!

‘Why do our customers do what they do?’ is a really perplexing, yet critical, question all marketers need to answer, with crystal clear clarity.

The other two big customer questions you need to master are ‘Who? and ‘How?’. Each of these has 10 sub-questions all answered in SOSTAC® Guide To Your Perfect Digital Marketing Plan, (PR Smith 2019). Answering these questions will help you to boost results with better marketing.  To see how to write an integrated digital marketing plan (including strategy) and/or the perfect structure for a marketing plan or even a business plan, watch this 4 minute (video

See also Research Driven Shock Motivation Ad Uses Magic Formula & Goes Viral .

Finally, you might also enjoy Ian Clery’s 5 min video Influence and the Sales Funnel using Cialdini’s 6 rules as it helps to answer this most difficult question ‘Why?’.