Here are 5 takeaways from Pre-Suasion:
1. The Importance of Attention
When there is more attention drawn to a particular topic, people will perceive it to be more important. For example, the amount of news coverage on a topic can make a big difference in the perceived significance of an issue.
The book states that the central tenet of agenda- setting theory is that the media rarely produce change directly, by presenting compelling evidence that sweeps an audience to new positions; they are much more likely to persuade indirectly, by giving selected issues and facts better coverage than other issues and facts. It’s this coverage that leads audience members to decide that these are the most important to be taken into consideration when adopting a position.
If an issue is given alot of attension, people will automatically assume that it is important.
2. Sex Does Not Always Sell
Sex sells selectively. People are more likely to pay attention to stimuli that fit the goal they have for that situation. According to the book, using sex to sell a product works only for items that people frequently buy for sexually related purposes. Cosmetics, body scents, and form-fitting clothing fall into this category. Soft drinks, laundry detergents, and kitchen appliances do not, despite the occasionally misguided efforts of advertisers who don’t appreciate the point.
3. Subtle Details are Important
A few examples from the book are:
a) Backgrounds matter: Visitors to an online furniture website who saw a landing page decorated with clouds became more inclined toward soft, comfortable furniture. Those who saw wallpaper decorated with pennies became more inclined toward inexpensive furniture.
b) Disruptive noise is real: One study found that the reading scores of students in a New York City elementary school were significantly lower if their classrooms were situated close to elevated subways tracks on which trains rattled past every four to five minutes.
c) Backgrounds are distracting: Classrooms with heavily decorated walls displaying lots of posters, maps, and artwork reduce the test scores of young children learning science material there.
d) Price anchoring: Introduce a larger price first and then reveal a smaller price. People will be more inclined to purchase the product because they have the more expensive price still in their head so the new price comes off as being cheap.
4. The Power of Reciprocity
The power of reciprocity is when you feel obligated to give back to those who have given to you, even under puzzling circumstances.
For example, in the book they discuss how one student said that her family received a Christmas card from the Harrisons of Santa Barbara, but neither she or her husband remembered any Harrisons in Santa Barbara. Since they received a card from them, they sent one in return, because of the principle of reciprocity.
The principle of unity is about shared identities. It’s about the categories that individuals use to define themselves and their groups such as race, ethnicity, nationality, family, political affiliations, and religious affiliations. The ultimate shared identity is family.
Two examples from the book that show how powerful these shared identities are:
1. A professor offered an extra point on the next test to each student whose parent responded to the questionnaire. All 163 of the students sent the questionnaire to a parent, 159 of whole mailed back a completed copy within a week. The participation was an astounding 97%. Familial unity was incredibly persuasive here.
2. In Warren Buffet’s shareholder newsletter regarding the future of Berkshire Hathaway he states “With that warning, I will tell you what I would say to my family today if they asked me about Berkshire’s future.” Familial language is extremely persuasive. Familiar images and labels that create a sense of we-ness include: brothers, sisterhood, forefathers, motherland, heritage, etc.