+Scott Watson

Friday, 13 August 2010

Influence - How Much or How Little Do You Notice It?

It seems that the most effective influencer in the UK is the magician/hypnotist/entertainer Mr Derren Brown. If you've ever witnessed Mr Brown's live show, even the untrained eye can notice that his approach is a potent mixture of trickery, sleight of hand, misdirection and exemplary timing. Twin these with a charming personality and there you have it - persuasion magic!

If you've not seen Mr Brown in action, just type his name in to Youtube and you're bound to enjoy yourself. But we don't all want to be a Derren Brown type of influencer and persuader. And that is a good thing. But we all do have situations at home, at work and in the street where we want to or indeed have to influence another human being, or even group of human beings to either start doing something or stop doing something, to do more of something or do less of something. Indeed, if nobody influenced anybody else - nothing would happen.

Are you aware of how individuals, government, companies and groups influence you? Maybe you are on some occasions, maybe not on others. I've detailed below a number of situations where we are being influenced, perhaps unconsciously or perhaps, because we pay so little attention or place so little value on the influencing stimulus - we tend to comply.

You're too well dressed to be a beggar

I've just returned from a family holiday in the city of Nice, France. Each evening an abundance of tourists explore the beautiful 'Old Town' area of the city to enjoy the architecture, the street entertainment which spans music to martial arts. But the one thing that really stood out was the fact that the 'beggars' who hounded unsuspecting tourists for money - were all really well groomed and remarkably well dressed.

A 'team' of male beggars worked the Palais de Justice square where thousands of tourists passed through and hundreds more enjoyed the cafes and restaurants. Each 'beggar' had a transparent plastic cup which they would shake as their next target approached (so the target could hear the sound of coins and so be encouraged to contribute). But who did they target each and every time? Females - females on their own, females in a group but ultimately no males were targeted. Why not? Perhaps because females are perceived to be more compliant, the beggar can flirt a little and maybe because the response from a male would be more forthright, less polite and more aggressive. See what the beggars have done? They've selected their target market, put their own money in their plastic cups to imply that other passers-by have been kind enough to contribute (to their next Armani clothing purchase) so you should too.

There's a lesson here. If you're going to beg - don't dress, look or smell like you've just got yourself ready for your first date with a beautiful super-model! It just doesn't fit the profile.

The Restaurant Bait

Again, and you'll have experienced this in many holiday destinations across the globe. Restaurants and cafes place a member or two of their team on the street just outside their hostelry to attract potential customers. But why do they always choose to employ rather attractive, in-shape and often blonde (natural or bottle) in this role? Have you ever seen a spotty, greasy-haired, ginger plump lady - or male in this position? Not a chance. Why not? Because the restaurant and cafe owners realise that where a family is passing by, it's usually the father/the male that holds will be paying for the meal and booze - and that they will most likely enjoy the 'sights' too as well as enjoying the food. You just got influenced and it cost you a bundle!

Supermarket Sweep

Why do we buy the 'Special 2-4-1 Offer' in a supermarket so often? Because it appears better value than simply buying the one item you really wanted. It's like 'If I don't buy it now, I'll lose out'. But how can we really 'lose out' by buying something we didn't really need, only wanted? Supermarket bosses use fantastic, perhaps sometimes unethical, influencing strategies to influence the shopper to just keep on shopping. Even when it comes to checkout, the sweets, chocolate and other snack foods aren't there to be of help to you - what they're really doing is providing an opportunity for you to impulse buy a product, or even worse, get your kids to pester you in to buying something for them. And wouldn't it be oh so embarrassing for you if your kid/s caused a scene in front of so many other people at the checkout?

Amsterdam Airport Has the Best Idea

You've heard it over the airport speaker system. 'Will Mr Williams flying to Dubai with Emirates please board immediately as the flight is ready to depart?'...to be followed a few minutes later by 'Will Mr Williams flying to Dubai with Emirates please board immediately as the flight is ready to depart?'

See what's happening here? A supposedly important message, with consequences for the passenger - missing his flight, and the airline - missing its slot and the potential onward delays, isn't becoming any more important to the passenger as there isn't a consequence for him. Now, imagine if you are Mr Williams for a moment and you're flying from Amsterdam's Schippol airport. This is the term they use, and it creates a very different impact.

'Will Mr Williams flying to Dubai with Emirates please board immediately or your baggage will be off-loaded from the flight?' See the difference? If you're Mr Williams, you'll actually feel the difference - emotionally and perhaps financially too. This message delivers a sense of urgency, a sense of responsibility and also a sense of consequence as Mr Williams has no control over the airline shutting the doors without him.

Low - Cost Airlines - The Devil is in the Detail...and Your Visa Card Bill

So, your flight ticket from Leeds to Paris is ONLY £5 each way. Fantastic, WE MUST GO!

You go online, choose your flights and all is looking well. Until that is, you want to take baggage, one piece each to be stored in the hold. £20 to £30 each ticket. And you'll have to check-in online as the airline doesn't employ staff to do this at the airport....DUH! so that will cost you a further £5 each, each way. So that's another £20 creeping its way on to your visa card. Oh, you want to pay by visa or debit card? That's another 2% charge of the total transaction please. But I have a question about the booking, I'd better call the airlines 'customer service' number. Oops, didn't we tell you that it's not only an 0870 number, it costs upto £1 per minute...AND THAT INCLUDES THE TIME IT TAKES FOR US TO TELL YOU YOU'RE IN A QUEUE, ATTEMPT TO SELL YOU MORE OF OUR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES not just the time you have speaking to one of our staff.

See what's happened? You've been influenced to make purchases because they feel compulsory. Of course they aren't compulsory as we reserve the right to not travel or choose another airline, but the influencing psychology is 'I MUST COMPLY IF I WANT THE TRIP'. Some call this influencing, whilst others may call it scamming!!

The lessons? Start to notice how you are being influence, who is influencing you and reserve the right to choose not to comply. You might live to regret it if you don't.



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