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Getting Them to Say “Yes!”

by Karen Talavera

05 30, 2011 | Posted in Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Marketing Vision | 0 comments

Getting Them to Say YES!

photo credit: lukxde

One of my recent posts made the case for opt-in over opt-out marketing.  I realize that’s all well and good until it becomes time to convince people to say yes, right? So this month I want to share four insights into what psychologically motivates people to say yes when given the opportunity to take action:


It’s universally human that we would rather be asked than tricked or forced.  Free will is one of the very cornerstones of human nature.  When it’s all said and done, we’d rather be given the chance to make a conscious decision than cornered into unconscious choices we end up inevitably regretting.  So when it comes to asking someone to join your email or social media sphere, don’t fall back on deception and coercion.  You don’t need to sneak them in under the wire. Simply invite them and trust that they can decide for themselves what is in their own best interests.

Everyone loves an invitation, right? Everyone loves to feel special, included, that they belong.  We have a basic drive for community.  We’re social beings.  Hey, it’s in the Maslow pyramid.

Enlightened Emarketing Tip:  Invitations are good, but a masterful opt-in marketer won’t simply invite without also explaining the value of the invitation and explicitly indicating how to accept it.  The best invitations areclear, honest and compelling. While people love to make up their own minds, once they do they want to be told exactly what to do next and not have to figure it out for themselves.  So once  you’ve invited them to join, subscribe or buy, please don’t forget to explain exactly how!


As social beings, we mirror one another.  Communication studies have proven we are reciprocal in nature, matching moods, gestures, even facial expressions of the person or entity we’re in communication with.  So if you want someone to say yes, use reciprocity to your advantage: say “yes” to them first by giving.

Most people when shown kindness will reciprocate it.  Most people, when given a gift, feel gratitude and seek a way to express it.  When you give value before you ask for a valuable action, you demonstrate trustworthiness, generosity and commitment.  You give yourself  a “home field advantage”.

Enlightened Emarketing Tip:  How do you give first? Offer something of value in exchange for an email sign-up, social media follow, purchase or other form of engagement that brings you value.  This “something of value” can be information, entertainment, education, a chance to win a prize, a free gift or premium, exclusivity, or a solution to a problem.  Content marketing, the practice of giving away something valuable in order to sell or obtain something related, works well for almost all organizations because every business or professional is more an expert in their field than their customers, so we all have helpful, relevant, valuable insight we can share.


We are intellectual and emotional beings both.  The two hemisphere of our brain work together and separately in remarkable ways – the left driving analytical and critical thinking, the right being the emotional center.  It’s been said people “buy with emotions and justify with reason”, so if you concentrate only on the steak but not the sizzle, or vice versa, you’re leaving out an important component psychologically necessary for most people to say yes and feel good about it.

Start by making an emotional connection by appealing to basic human motivators  – the desire to be safe, to be loved, to be happy, or to be included.  The more magnetism, personality, transparency and authenticity you bring to your marketing, the more successful you’ll be in creating emotional resonance in the first place.

Enlightened Emarketing Tip:  People love to buy but hate to feel sold to.  When you bypass an emotional connection by going straight to justifications, analytics, facts and figures, there’s a tendency for people to feel like they are being talking into something rather than deciding for themselves.  On the other hand, when you create an emotional connection that transcends the intellect, you empower your audience to convince themselves of what they want. It’s a fact of life: you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink.  We all need to choose – anything and everything we do – for ourselves.  The true opt-in marketer realizes the power of this and uses emotion to elicit conscious choice.

Social Proof

Again, we are social beings, pack animals if you will, so we love to see what the majority is doing and saying.  Whether or not it should be, the fact remains that peer pressure is a powerful motivator.  Peer influence and review holds great credibility. In today’s age of social media, there is endless opportunity (and not excuse not to) gather powerful testimonials, ratings and other “social proof” from your community to increase trust and reliability in your invitations, offers, products and services.

Enlightened Emarketing Tip:  Whenever you’re asking someone to respond, support your call to action with positive and real testimonials, ratings, and statistics (4 out of 5 customers buy again!).  Give life to social proof by including pictures or video of the real people behind the names, and by adding graphics and color to stats or survey results.  Allowing your customers to speak for you is far more powerful than speaking for yourself can ever be, so give your raving fans and loyal advocates an opportunity and a place to openly share – whether on social networks, your own hosted communities, your blog or all three.

There are plenty of other psychological tactics marketers have used since the beginning of time to motivate response and many of them prey upon fear, loss, exclusion and other negative motivators.  Obviously I’m not focusing on those.  I say it’s time to take a higher road in marketing, resting in honesty, trust and community. When we do it right and when we do it with integrity, our prospects and customers say “yes” and feel good in the process, and how they feel about their decision speaks volumes later on, translating into either confidence and repeat business or returns and remorse.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be doing business with people choosing to work with me out of love than out of fear. Ultimately, empowering instead of disempowering people to “yes” is a “win-win”,  the difference between success and failure both for ourselves and those we serve.

Creative Commons License photo credit: lukxde

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