Laying The Decoy: The Persuasion Technique I Love The Most
The decoy is perhaps my favorite of all persuasion and influence techniques, it is so wonderfully deceitful and sneaky.
Let’s say I am out in the mall collecting for a charity or worthy cause. The charity organizers have explained to me that their average donation amount is just $2 and they really want to break that ceiling. They challenge all the people who have agreed to go out collecting to get as many donations over $5 as possible.
The individual with the highest average donation amount will win a fantastic prize. So, I have three options here. I can go out shaking my collection bucket and see what happens. However, we know from past data this approach yields an average donation amount under $2 and certainly nowhere near the goal amount.
The second option is I could just straight out ask for five dollars.
What puts me off this approach is it wouldn’t work with me. I would feel ordered to pay the specified amount and I don’t respond well to orders. I am sure you are the same. Plus it fails to deal with the expectation of the giver. When someone waves a charity collection bucket under your nose you probably have an amount in your mind that seems reasonable.
That amount will depend on several factors including but not limited to your disposable income, generosity and how much you value the cause at hand. However, if I approach people and ask for $5 specifically I will offend the people who can’t afford this amount and it will likely have a limiting effect on the people who may have been able to give more.
Lay The Decoy
Personally, in this situation, I would use a decoy. Remember my goal is $5, this is all I want to achieve. So, I would approach people and ask them to commit to a regular donation of $15 a month. I know that most people don’t like to make open-ended commitments like that and so my expectation is that over ninety percent of the people I ask will refuse.
Even the few that agree I will only consider to be a bonus to my endeavors.
When I am refused the original request I would make an attempt to persuade them to support this wonderful cause. On the second refusal, I would appear to be a little crestfallen and admit defeat. However, it is at this point I would say ‘I understand, but do you think you could maybe spare $5, just as a one off donation. It would make a huge difference.
This is such a powerful technique because it pulls on several psychological laws. Including the law of reciprocity and the law of contrast. When you combine several motivating elements like that the whole becomes stronger than the sum of its parts. Later I will explain the devastatingly powerful effect of combining the law of scarcity with the law of social proof.
But first, let’s dissect what I have asked for in a little more detail. First of all I have demonstrated to you that I am a reasonable guy. I wanted $180 a year out of you, but because I am so accommodating and willing to work with you I have dramatically reduced what I want to just $5. I am not even asking you to meet me half way, I have moved so far from my original request that there is pressure on you to move from your opening stance too.
A Real World Persuasion Technique
It’s important to know this stuff, not just so you can use it to get what you want. But also as a defense against other people using such techniques against you. Only last month I experienced the decoy trick being used on me in an expensive cosmetics store in London.
My daughter and I were out Christmas shopping when we walked past a famous boutique cosmetics store. Outside were elegantly dressed guys handing out bars of their hand soap free of charge. Normally these sell for a couple of pounds each so they were nice freebies to get. We gratefully accepted the gifts and as we turned to continue our walk down the high street, the guy smiled and said ‘say, would you mind If I showed you our amazing new hand softening gel’.
Now, was I in the market to buy extremely overpriced hand softening gel? Of course not, but he had primed the pump and pulled out the law of reciprocity to make the sell a little easier. We felt indebted to him and so agreed to come in and try the hand gel, hey it was the least we could do right?
Once inside the palatial store he went into full tactile presentation mode. Gently washing and conditioning our hands with this wonderful smelling balm. Then he asked to compare the difference. Wow, he was right, this stuff was amazing. The hand he had been working on was a soft as a baby’s bottom – as the saying goes.
It Works So Well!
My daughter was sold and gave me those ‘’Dad, can we buy some’’ eyes. I asked the price and had to quickly pick my jaw back up off the floor after he nonchalantly revealed it was one hundred pounds per jar. I immediately came over all Northern and said ‘no way’. My daughter looked heartbroken and repeated the pleading eye thing she is so good at.
As we turned to leave he again stopped us. “I tell you what, I can see your daughter really wants this product so I will give you two jars and this special edition makeup bag all for the same price as one jar’. My daughter’s eyes lit up, she was certain that I couldn’t turn down such an amazing offer. She was shocked and stunned when I did.
We left the store and explained to her that the chances are better than good that the price of 2 jars and the makeup bag was always one hundred pounds. We were being manipulated by a well-practiced sales technique. Her response? Anger! “Dad, why do you have to always spot these things”!
Defense Against The Dark Arts
Your defense against these compliance techniques is to see them for what they really are, a device to extract money from you. When you change the gift of expensive soap from being a ‘gift’ to being a compliance device you will feel less inclined to engage with the law of reciprocity.
Are you ready to learn the persuasion techniques of a master hypnotist and NLP instructor? Click here to get started with Craig Beck’s Persuasion University.