Agriculture | Marketing | Innovation

Its not what you ask, its how you ask it

Its not what you ask, its how you ask it

What drives adoption of a new practice?

Most answer with the following:

  • Cost savings
  • Increase in revenue
  • Improved efficiency

These are outcomes of a new practice, they are not the cause.  What would cause the adoption of a new practice? How do you persuade a farmer to make a change?

In Robert Cialdini’s first book Influence, he lays out the 6 principles of persuasion:

  • Reciprocation
  • Social proof
  • Consistency
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

You’re a savvy marketer (you must be if you’re reading this) so you know the power of these principles. Sometimes, though, even the best messaging and implementation of these persuasion principles leads to mixed results.

Now after 30 years of studying social psychology, Cialdini’s new book Pre-Suasion  shows that the moment leading up to an important message is more important than the message itself. The highest sales achievers spent more time crafting what they do and say in the moments before the request than the actual request. In essence they work to make a customer receptive to their message.

Many marketers spend hours creating the perfect sales message. However what happens right before the message has a bigger impact. Would you consider that a scary movie would impact the receptiveness of a message?

Imagine the classic farm inputs commercial of a farmer standing in a field, saying “Brawndo sets me apart from the average farmer”. According to Cialdini’s research, if your customer was watching a scary movie when they saw this commercial, they would be unlikely to adopt your solution. This is because the “set yourself apart” message is in conflict with the fear induced need to seek safety. The scary movie primed the grower to seek comfort in a crowd. The messaging that would have worked in this case would have been, Like most successful farmers I use Brawndo“.

Would you believe that the background image on your website could be sabotaging your sales? That those cheesy “Success” motivational posters actually do lead to increased sales? Or that the things that really shape our decisions are often below our conscious radar.

In Pre-Suasion, Cialdini slays sacred sales cows with an army of research. Proof that pulling up your sales boots and kicking in doors will only get you tuned out. Instead, slip on kid gloves, choose your words, your timing and the context of your pitch. Prepare your customer for the message. Then watch your close rate climb.

The first step to being more influential is reading both these books.


The post Its not what you ask, its how you ask it first appeared on

© 2022 Craig M Dick

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑