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Influence theory: Exchange knowledge for sales

Influence theory: Exchange knowledge for sales

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Influence theory on reciprocity

The theory of Robert Cialdini says that we humans have a great urge to give something back if we get something. Not only that. If you get something, the urge to give something back is so great that you often give more back than you get.


It’s little Christmas Eve. The door rings. The neighbor is standing there with a big red package with a bow of silver on it. “Merry Christmas,” says the neighbor, and goes home again. You have not given your neighbor a Christmas present. How does it feel? Would like to have a gift ready that you could give to your neighbor directly? Maybe even given something that was a little more expensive than what you got too?

The reason we have a great urge to give something back if we get something is that we dislike the feeling of owing someone something. It is a constant cognitive dissonance that gives us anxiety. 

How to apply the principle of reciprocity in digital marketing?

Whether you are a small children’s clothing store or a multinational law firm, you have a universal valuable resource that you can share with your clients. Knowledge. You are an authority in your field. Maybe you know a lot about one of the products you sell, or maybe you have deep insight into the industry you work in.

In other words, you probably have a goldmine of valuable information you can give your customers. And by sharing this knowledge, you give your customers an incentive to buy from you. Precisely because of Robert Cialdini’s principle of influence “Reciprocity”.

Suggestions for specific things you can do in your digital marketing:

  • Write blog posts on a relevant topic (as I do here)
  • Post videos explaining how to do x on Facebook or YouTube
  • Send out newsletters with tips related to a service you provide


In summary

What we unfortunately see all too often is that companies are afraid to share their knowledge. They are afraid that competitors will “steal” the knowledge. In the digital society we live in, all information is available. So therefore I encourage you to share your knowledge with your customers and potential customers. Use this actively in your digital marketing. Cialdini’s principle of reciprocity will ensure that you get more sales and more requests. Feel free to check out our digital marketing services if you need help. Good luck!

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