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Psychological Triggers to Sales

how to apply for a pardon
by SS&SS

Article by Ken Chee

I receive this in my mailbox and real author is unknown to me at this moment, but I think it make senses especially on the Xerox experiment: This is a real psychological experiment as I study it in my Uni days. Enjoy.


Do you remember the stupid beer commercial a few years back with the tagline “Why Ask Why?” Well, completely unknown to the ad agency — they had almost stumbled onto a breakthrough marketing concept.

Telling people the reason why you are doing something is one of the most powerful influencers of human behavior.

Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” talks about an experiment by Harvard social psychologist, Ellen Langer, that concluded people like to have areason for what they do.

Her experiment consisted of people waiting in line to use a library copy machine and then having experimenters ask to get ahead in line.

The first excuse used was “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” This request coupled with a reason was successful 94% of the time. However when the experimenter made a request only: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” this request was only granted 60% of the time. A significant drop.

Okay now for the shocker.

It may seem like the difference between those two requests was the additional information of “because I’m in a rush”, but that’s just not the case.

Because in a third experimenter, the experimenter asks “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?” There’s no reason mentioned or new information presented, just the words “because”.

This time a full 93% of the people said yes simply due to the word ‘BECAUSE’! And it didn’t even matter that there was no reason given. Just the word because triggered a magic response.

Using this psychological ‘trigger’ can massively increase your Marketing success.

Here’s an example: John E. Powers, one of the top copywriters in the 1900’s, wrote this ad for a Pittsburgh department store in severe financial trouble:

“We are bankrupt. We owe 5,000 more than we can pay, and this announcement will bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and *buy* tomorrow, we shall have the money to meet them. If not, we shall go to the wall.”

Instead of yelling ‘SALE’ like so many other stores would, there’s a legitimate reason given why people should spend their money at this store. And this ad was said to be responsible for saving the store.

Another ad written by Powers, for a different merchant, proclaimed “We have a lot of rotten raincoats we want to get rid of.” This sold out the entire inventory of raincoats by thenext morning.

Max Sackheim, famous for the long-running ad “Do You Make These Mistakes In English” and originator of the book-of-the-month concept, says this: “Whenever you make a claim or special offer in your advertising, come up with an honest reason why, and then state it sincerely. You’ll sell many more products this way.”

And this powerful strategy works just as well today.

Using this secret weapon for a medical equipment company, I helped them produce a massive 1,073% return on investment simply using “reason-why” copy.

The premise was how can we sell a product for the incredibly low price of only 7? (Regularly this product sells for about 5 – 5.) Then the ad went on to explain that the reason why the price was so low was because the manufacturer wanted to gain market share and get nurses and doctors accustomed to using their product. It was a huge winner and a big money-maker for the client.

So how can you apply all of this to your business? Easy. Let’s say you have a slow time of year and you want to increase your business during this period. Well, write a simple letter to yourcustomers making a special offer, only good during your slow period.

Maybe you’ll throw in an extra free bonus, an extra service, or a special discount simply because it is your “slow time” and you need to pay your staff anyway.

Let people in “behind the scenes” at your company…

* Are you overstocked on merchandise because for some reason customers only want the deluxe widget – but you ordered tons of the basic one?

* Did you have a flood and you need to liquidate (pardon the pun) your inventory?

* Do you need to raise cash so you can pay for your nosejob?

Whatever the reason. Tell them the truth.

For some reason everyone wants to be mysterious about their business. If you’re lowering the price nobody thinks you’re doing it just because you’re “such a nice guy”. So let people in thereason why.

I know this probably goes against every grain of business sense, but I promise if you give people a good, believable reason why they’ll respond with open wallets.

About the Author

Ken Chee is the Group CEO of Integrated Media Group Pte Ltd. The companies specialized in ROI (Return on Investment) marketing and have spearheaded regional and local campaign in Asia. The content may be used only in its entirety with all links and his bio included. Visit http://www.kenchee.com for IDEA THAT SELLS!

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