Book Summary: Influence ! 47 Forbidden Psychology Tactics Summary Dan Lok
47 Forbidden Psychology Tactics By Dan Lok
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #1 –
“50,000 Frenchman Can’t Be Wrong!” — Cole Porter
Popularity is an interesting thing. It feeds on itself. A Japanese cream puff chain
has taken NYC by storm because of a clever marketing strategy: they paid
dozens of people to stand in line and buy cream puffs.
When passersby saw all those people, they didn’t even ask what product was on sale…they just joined the line so that they could “get theirs.”
POPULAR with other people = GOOD for me
Don’t Let Me Go Wrong
For most people, making an online buying decision on their own is a scary thing.
Some don’t trust their instincts and think they’ll make a bad choice.
Your Cheatin’ Heart
Some consumers are afraid they’ll be taken advantage of. They may have been
burned in the past, or they may just be displaying the “fear of sellers” that grips
the average 21st Century consumer.
Fear of the Unknown
Fear of a bad decision is also common for people who are purchasing a product
they’ve never used before or considering a service from a provider that they
don’t know. This is a particularly thorny issue for professional service
companies like car repair, air conditioning maintenance, etc.
The People Have Spoken
Consumers listen to the “vox populi” (voice of the people). It stands to reason
that if a product is an online best-seller that many people must like it, so the
consumer thinks, “I’ll like it, too.”
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #2 –
“A limited offer has unlimited appeal.”
Have you ever walked into one of those trendy, high-end ladies’ boutiques that
have just three or four dresses on display in an enormous space?
Ever wonder why? It’s exclusivity at work!
• Limited edition
• Limited production
• Limited number available
LOK-ED & LOADED INSIGHT
People will beg you to take their money if you can make them feel
“special” and part of a “private club”.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #3 –
“My dog’s bigger than your dog. My dog’s bigger than yours. My dog’s bigger
cause he eats Ken-L-Ration. My dog’s bigger than yours.”
— Kenn-L-Ration Dog Food Jingle
All you need to do is emphasize what’s
superior about your offer and make it
clear that someone who takes advantage of what you’re selling will be perceived
as a superior person by those who weren’t so smart.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #4 –
In the age of “Reality TV,” Reality Marketing is a must, too.
The 21st Century consumer is savvy about the tactics of marketers and skeptical
of online advertising and off. If your claims obviously exaggerated, visitors will
be turned off instantly and will instantly click away to another site.
And once you’ve lost ‘em…you’re NOT going to get them back.
No sales technique works better than the truth.
LOK-ED & LOADED INSIGHT
Truth is stranger (and sells better) than fiction. These stories, sometimes called
“case histories,” are usually 300 to 400 words in length. Less than that and you
won’t be able to get your marketing message across. Any longer and the reader
may “bail out” before finishing the story.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #5 –
CONSUMERS WILL TUNE IN TO
“Too much is never enough.” — Early MTV Slogan
Don’t Quit Before You Get Started!
If a visitor doesn’t respond to your offer, it’s easy to say, “What’s the point of
following up? If they didn’t buy online immediately, they’re obviously not
interested or they’re not really serious. I’m not going to waste any more time or
effort on them!”
Lok-ed and Loaded Insight: On average, you
need to follow up with prospects
nine (9) times before they’ll buy from you.
• They aren’t ready…yet.
• They need more information.
• They are still be researching other vendors.
• They aren’t convinced about your quality or reliability.
• They have to save the money to make the purchase
• Their problem may not be serious enough to take action yet.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #6 – THE
AGE OF REASONS
“Reason is the slow and torturous method by which those who do not know the
truth discover it”
— Blaise Pascal
Appealing to a prospect’s “what’s in it for me” self-interest is will turn your
online sales message in a sales monster. When you list benefits, offer a no-risk
guarantee, throw in bonuses, etc., you’re speaking directly to a consumer’s
“basic instinct”– greed.
The best way to compile a killer list of reasons someone should buy from you is
to ask your customers. You can also check out the competition and make sure
that you’re highlighting all the same benefits…plus a few that “the other guy”
By loading up your online sales message with rea- sons why a prospect should
do business with you, you are literally “sweetening the pot.” The more reasons
you give a prospect to say “yes,” the more likely he is to do so.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #7 – BE
“Survey says…” — The Family Feud
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: for your website to succeed you need to
give the people what they want…not what you think they want. There’s a world
of difference between hoping you’re hitting your prospect’s hot buttons with
your sales copy and knowing that you are.
• The Customer Survey – asks current customers what made them buy in the
past and what they plan to buy in the future.
• The Opt-in List Survey – asks people on your subscriber list what they’re
interested in, why they’ve bought in the past and what they plan to buy in the
• The Exit Survey – asks people their opinions as they leave your site… what
they liked, what they didn’t, what they plan to buy in the future, and where.
• The Unsubscribe Survey – This kind of survey is so important, but so under
utilized! The information provided by people who are opting-out is golden! It
can be used to change the negatives and increase your retention rate
• The Surfer Survey – turns site visitors into a “test audience.” Are you thinking
about launching a new line of products? Writing a sequel to your e-book? Before
you invest time and money, invest in a website survey. As people surf your site,
get their opinion on whether they would buy what you’re thinking of selling.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #8 –
LET’S GET DOWN TO SPECIFICS
“The surest way to arouse and hold the attention of the reader is by being
specific, definite and concrete.”
— William Strunk and E.B. White
In a study done by the Wall Street Journal the number seven (7) has
been found to be the number that most people respond to. So try to end
your prices with a seven.
Here are two examples for headlines from online sales letters. Which has more
You Can Make More Money Every Week
Earn An Extra $500 Each Week Working Only Three Hours A Day!
In the first example, there’s an undefined promise of additional income. But is it
$5 more per week,$10 more, a million? Who knows?
Are You Talking to ME?
Who is your target audience, your niche market? When you craft your message,
use words that speak directly to that demographic:
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #9 –
GIVE ‘EM A PAT ON THE BACK
“Flattery will get you everywhere…including into your prospect’s wallet!”
You may not be offering online psychotherapy, but if you make your customers
feel good – about themselves as well as their purchase — they’ll want to continue
to do business with you.
Bulking up your website with informative articles provides a quintessential “after-marketing” opportunity.
It’s a great way to keep old customers flowing into your website and new money flowing into your pocket.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #11 –
“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it
— Groucho Marx
This may sound counter-intuitive, but it works: by admitting your product is not
the perfect solution for everyone, you increase the chances that the prospect will
listen to why your product is perfect for THEM.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #12 –
SHOW AND TELL
“Seeing is believing…and believers are buyers.”
I was recently shopping for a book light, and as I was browsing the merchandise,
the salesman came over with batteries in his hand. He asked me which model I
was considering and when I pointed it out, he “powered up” the light and
showed me all the settings, positions, and “bells and whistles” that it had to offer.
I was awed…not by the book light (it was pretty standard)…but by the
effectiveness of the sales technique. By demonstrating his product to me, the
salesman made the idea ofits benefits completely tangible.
Product demonstrations are everywhere… at your local mall, at traveling street
fairs, even on the TV monitors at your local home supply store or favorite
department store make-up counter. They should be on your website, too.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #13 –
LET’S GET VISUAL
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
(A website picture is worth a thousand sales)
Many people think that the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words” is a
pithy piece of ancient Chinese wisdom. They’re wrong. Advertising itself, in the
person of marketing wizard Fred R. Barnard, is the source.
Imagine offering a photo gallery of those key features and benefits on your
website where potential customers can actually see. The results will be fantastic.
If you pictures are effective, they will make consumers want to experience fore
themselves what your product/service has to offer.
That makes pictures the ultimate “closers.”
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #14 – BE
“THE FUN PLACE TO SHOP”
“Girls just want to have fun!”
— Cyndi Lauper
Figure out what your target audience would consider an online “good time”…
and then deliver it! They’ll come back for more…including more closing
A good time can be had at any website regardless of the product or service it has
to sell. Skeptical? I know it’s hard to image that “fun” would be an element to
selling something as “un-fun” as funeral supplies…so let me illustrate with a
At WidgetHeadstones.com, visitors can digitally create samples of grave
markers. They can choose from a variety of headstones and “play” with the
design of the inscriptions. They can mix and match different typefaces, artistic
ornamentation, headstone sizes and shapes, etc.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #15 –
EVERY PROSPECT IS FROM
Testimonials build credibility more than any other strategy. Collect them at every
PLY testimonials may be golden, but third-party facts and figures and quotes
from experts are platinum…the “Fort Knox” of persuasion.
Tearing Down Walls with Credibility Guaranteed
The guarantee yanks the teeth out of the fears that are eating away at consumers:
•Fear of making a bad (the wrong) choice
•Fear of overpaying
•Fear of getting less than they bargained for
•Fear of being dissatisfied with nowhere to turn
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #16 –
FAQ – FREQUENTLY ALLEVIATES
“Questions are just objections in disguise.”
An excellent way to keep objections at bay and keep fear out of the buying
equation is with a preemptive attack on questions. An FAQ is an excellent
“double agent” in this endeavor.
Questions are your friends. If a potential customer is asking questions, it means that he is INTERESTED.
Objections are your friends, too. Even an objection that sounds like a loud resounding “no,” isn’t really a no
at all…it’s just a request for a solution to a problem
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #17 –
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL
“Everybody’s Doin’ It Now.”
— Irving Berlin or Commander Cody or DC Talk
There’s only one thing more persuasive
than sending a letter to Dr.
Crackenstitch, a heart surgeon, with comments other doctors attesting to the
benefits of a product or service… and that’s including a quote from another
“professional just like you” — in this case another heart surgeon like the good
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #18 –
CURIOUS GEORGE AND GEORGINA
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”
— Dorothy Parker
The desire to know is a compelling force in marketing. When a consumer is
curious, then don’t just “want to know”…they NEED to satisfy their curiosity.
That’s why the ‘net is filled with information products with “curious” titles and
sales letters with “curious” headlines like these:
•Secrets of the Diet Industry Uncovered
•What Time Share Companies Don’t Want You To Know
•Mysteries of A Youthful Appearance Revealed
•The Hidden Keys of Car Buying
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #19 –
THE CULT OF CELEBRITY
Research shows that the three characteristics most associated with
persuasiveness are perceived authority, honesty, and likeability. And it’s these
three characteristics that we’re likely to attribute to beloved celebrities.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #20 – BE
AFRAID…BE VERY AFRAID
The Four Faces of Fear
Consumer fear can be sub-divided into three “scary” sub-categories:
•Fear ofmaking a mistake
•Fear ofthings getting worse
•Fear ofpaying too much for too little
This fear is what generates advertising language like:
•Limited Time Offer
•Only 500 Available
•Will Not Be Repeated
•First 100 Customers
•Today and Tomorrow Only
•Offer Good Until They’re Gone
In a niche where many websites are selling a product or service that is
virtually identical, using fear and risk an unsurpassed way to distinguish
yourself from the competition. (It’s also a way to justify higher prices!)
For many people, a challenge is the ultimate call to action. A challenge to “bust a
move” on the dance-floor or a challenge to “prove to people who doubt you that
they’re wrong” in an online sales pitch have the safe effect. Every challenge (and
dare) a potential consumer is faced with delivers a strong one-two push to the
LOK-ED & LOADED INSIGHT
Challenges stimulate the desire to prove that “I’m just as good as…no, I’m
better than everyone else!”
Influence: 47 Forbidden Psychological Tactics You Can Use to Motivate, Influence and Persuade Your Prospect
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #22 –
“ROUND UP” A HERD MENTALITY
“Monkey see, monkey do…and it’s the same for humans, too!”
People are deeply affected by what others think. If we see someone else do “it” –
– whatever “it” might happen to be — we have an immediate internal response
that says, “Me, too!”
It’s not an accident…it’s psychology at work!
If you can pepper your site with words like “best seller” or “our most popular
item,” you don’t have to convince your customer that it is a good product. The
hidden message — lots of other people have bought this product — is proof
Have you ever wondered why the heck companies such as Worldwide Widget
and other huge business entities run those simple little online contests asking
people to answer “Why I like (Name of Product)” in 100 words or less?
It’s because their marketing team is brilliant!
Widget’s marketers realized that rather than they didn’t have to pay millions to a
high-priced advertising agency for a “think tank” slogan that might appeal to
consumers… Instead, with a contest, they could let consumers tell them what to
“In your own words” comments tell you precisely what’s on your prospects’
minds…and they do it with words that to other consumers.
A low price may be the reason someone will buy your product, but the language
of your contest responses will help you narrow the focus of your pitch with the
exact language that will press a prospect’s buttons.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #23 –
COMPARE AND CONTRAST…
“Your true value depends entirely on what you are compared with. “
— Bob Wells
If you emphasize nothing, then nothing stands out. But…if you emphasize
everything, nothing stands out either. Contrast must be used wisely…
judiciously…carefully…in order to be effective. Be careful not to use so much
contrast that your page becomes cluttered and your message obscured.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #24 –
THE “GIMME/GIMME MORE”
Potential customers may be swayed with incentives, bonuses, and “value-added”
extras. Most people get the “gotta have it” bug when they think they have a
chance at being “one up” on someone else by getting some more and paying
less. I call this variation of “What’s in it for me?” “What’s in it that’s extra and
just for me?”
Influence: 47 Forbidden Psychological Tactics You Can Use to Motivate, Influence and Persuade Your Prospect
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #25 –
SOMETHING FOR SOMETHING
It’s important that the gift be given “free and clear” with no strings attached.
Giving with no expectations of quid pro quo is more likely to make someone
wish to reciprocate your kindness. That’s why so many offers say, “This gift is
yours to keep.” Your generosity is appreciated, so your customers are less likely
to return the product, even if they might be considering it. Interesting, huh?
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #26 –
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no
— Peter Drucker
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #27 –
THE ZEN OF SAMENESS
“Ifyou tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to
–Paul Josef Goebbels
Your message must be consistent and it must be delivered and re-delivered consistently. You might need to
“Pitch” a prospect as many as nine times before you make your sale…maybe even more. Consider an
informative auto-responder series or a regular newsletter.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #28 –
SHOW ‘EM HOW BROAD YOUR
Position your online offer for maximum risk reversal with superior guarantees
and other consumer-friendly risk removers like these:
•Better than 100% guarantees
•Free trial periods
•Short-term introductory packages
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #29 –
WITH LOVE FROM TO
“This time…it’s personal.”
– Tagline for Jaws, The Revenge
LOK-ED & LOADED INSIGHT
Surprisingly, even though web buyers realize that personalization is
accomplished with technology, they still respond to seeing their “name in print.”
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #30 –
GET INVOLVED WITH QUESTIONS
Placed at key intervals throughout your site, questions and buttons allow you to
guide prospects effortlessly on a path that goes step-by-step from “Would you
like to learn more? Click here” straight through to “Would you like to get 6 free
bonuses and pay 50% less than the published price? Click here.”
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #31 –
WHERE’S THE LOGIC IN THAT?
“To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible.
To be credible, we must be truthful.”
— Edward R. Morrow
“Spock’s brain” is probably inside your prospect’s head. In order to feel good
about a purchase, your site visitor wants to feel that he’s making a logical
Convenience is the impulse buyer’s best friend…and one of the reasons that the Internet is such a money
machine. Nothing is more seductive than the convenience of “Just Click Here to Buy Now”…except
perhaps the phrase, “Click Here to Get Your Free Gift Immediately.” Either way, it’s all about fast, easy, and
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #33 –
WHAT MAKES YOU SO SPECIAL?
“If you want to be truly successful invest in yourself to get the knowledge you
need to find your unique factor. When you find it and focus on it and persevere
your success will blossom.”
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #34 –
WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU???
Want a way to turn skeptical consumers into true believers? Admit a flaw, own
up to a mistake, reveal that you’ve made an error…and poof — your website and
your offer have instant credibility.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #35 –
GET CONSUMERS INTO THE
“You’ve got to see it to believe it!”
Want to make your stories really impossible to ignore? Don’t “talk to the hand,”
as Fran Drescher says…
Talk to the ego.
We all love to talk about ourselves. And we all love to hear about ourselves. It’s
the reason that phrases with the word “you” in them are so universally appealing.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #36 –
DARE TO BE DIFFERENT
In an online world that is frequently powered by “plain vanilla,” outrageous
marketing will get you noticed and generate word of mouth. It will differentiate
you from your competition just as much as the unique benefits and features you
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #37 – BE
“Enthusiasm is the greatest asset in the world. It beats money and power and
influence. It is no more or less than faith in action.”
— Henry Chester
To the consumer, your enthusiasm reflects on your credibility. That’s why one of
my favorite marketing slogans (or unique positioning statements) is the one used
by the Hair Club for Men. In all their ads, company founder Sy Sperling says
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #38 –
A fundamental truth is sales and marketing is: If you don’t ask for the reader to
respond…they won’t. A corollary of this idea is:
If you don’t ask the reader to respond immediately, they won’t…and you may
never get another chance to ask.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #39 –
“Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving”
Your “guilt appeals” need to be just as creatively conceived and worded as every
other aspect of your online marketing message…or they’ll blow up in your face.
In an era of market-savvy consumers, it’s important to avoid well-known guilt
tricks that your prospects will recognize as overtly manipulative.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #40 –
“Familiarity breeds contempt. “
“In politics, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. It breeds votes.”
— Paul Lazarsfeld
Don’t be a copycat! Your goal is to be similar enough to your “big league”
competitors to make you familiar to consumers, but different enough to “brand”
your site as new, unique, special, and better.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #41 –
HERE + NOW = WOW!
“To an American …gratification, instant and lavish, is a birthright.”
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #42 –
WHAT’S NEW? (OR NEW AND
“For most folks, no news is good news; for the press, good news is not news.”
Every time you add information or do something new on your website, you
create a new opportunity to get more sales.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #43 – Sex
“I don’t know the question, but sex is definitely the answer.”
— Woody Allen
Sex sells…and contrary to what you may think, it sells just as well to men AND
women. It is, after all, a basic human instinct, not just “His” or “Hers.”
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #44 –
AYER YOUR OFFER…AND DON’T
FORGET THE ICING ON THE
“Onions have layers, ogres have layers.”
If you sell a product, you can layer in professional services. For example,
include a six-month maintenance package with the purchase of an air
conditioning unit. Or make arrangements with a local cooking school and offer a
coupon for a free cooking class with the purchase of a convection oven.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #45 –
THAT’S AN ORDER (EMBEDDED
“Your wish is my command.”
Embedded commands are composed of small segments of larger statements —
words or lines in a paragraph, for example which are marked out for the
attention of the reader’s unconscious mind (exactly like the phrase you just
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #46 –
BUILDING SUCCESS ON COMMON
If you haven’t already done so, you should identify and use buzzwords to
position yourself as “one of them,” instead of being an outsider who’s trying to
peddle something. Buzzwords are found on your competitors’ sites, in trade
publications, and anywhere they’re talking about your product or service.
Forbidden Psychological Tactic #47 –
FOR MORE SALES…STOP SELLING!
“Don’t sell ‘em, tell ‘em.”
Be A “Solution Provider” Not A Salesman
Think of yourself as an “insider.” Present yourself as a knowledgeable consultant
whose job is to help a prospect with the tools (the products or services) that are
available on your site.
Customer-Focused Selling means NOT shining the spotlight on your great
products or wonderful services. It means, instead, focusing entirely on your
Think of your marketing message in terms of how it can help customers find
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