The Six Principles of Persuasion Explained

It's no secret that we all like to be liked. Whether in our personal or professional lives, we want to be thought of well by others. 

Persuasion is vital when convincing someone to fall in love with your brand or get your boss to approve a project. But what are the best persuasion techniques and tactics to use?

There are six principles of persuasion that can make an impact, according to esteemed psychologist and academic Dr. Robert Cialdini. And if you want to be successful in establishing your online reputation or just convincing people of anything, you need to know them. 

In this blog post, we'll look at each of the six principles and give some examples of how they can be used:

  • Persuasion is the power to influence someone to take action after the person has already decided not to.
  • The six principles of persuasion are - reciprocity, commitment/consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. 
  • Dedicating time to these principles can increase trust, a more positive online reputation, and brand advocates. 

Persuasion as a marketing strategy 

In marketing, persuasion is the power to influence someone to take action after the person has already decided not to.

Let's take a look at why persuasion is an effective marketing strategy. Your brand must position itself as more than just a product or service. If your values align with your target market, it will be easier to convince people to buy your product. 

Consider the following: 

  • One study in the Journal of Marketing Research found that consumers are willing to pay more for a product if they think it will make them feel good about themselves.
  • In another study, researchers found that 88% of consumers would like brands to help them be more environmentally friendly and ethical in their daily life. 
  • 63% of the public would give socially responsible businesses the benefit of the doubt during a crisis.

Suppose you're a business looking to build a solid online reputation or an individual looking to get your message across. In that case, you need to know something about persuasion and understand what consumers are looking for when vetting companies to support.

What are the six principles of persuasion? 

6 principles of persuasion (1)

Persuasion is not just about convincing someone to do something, it's about building a relationship of trust. The best way to do that is by establishing common ground, showing credibility, and making it clear that you have the other person's best interests at heart. The six principles of persuasion can help you do just that. 

Here are Dr. Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion: 

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment/Consistency
  • Social proof
  • Authority
  • Liking
  • Scarcity 


If you do something nice for someone, they're more likely to do something nice for you. It's a simple concept, but it can significantly impact your business. Reciprocity is all about giving first. When we receive something, we feel compelled to return the favor. 

How can reciprocity improve your reputation?

We most commonly see reciprocity at work with word of mouth. If you do something nice for someone, they're more likely to return the favor. In the business world, this often manifests itself in the form of referrals. When you provide excellent service or products to your customers, they'll be more likely to refer their friends and family to your business. Over time, this can significantly improve your reputation and help you attract new customers.

Of course, ensuring that you're providing genuine value to your customers is essential; otherwise, they'll quickly see through your ulterior motives. But when done correctly, reciprocity can be a powerful tool for boosting your business.

Blogging is a classic example of reciprocity in the online world. Let's say you're a marketer trying to get your website noticed by potential customers. One way to do this is to guest blog on other websites in your industry. By providing valuable content for free, you're persuading people to visit your site and see what you have to offer. 

Blogging can: 

  • Improve your reputation and make it more likely that people will do business with you. 
  • Establish a loyal customer base, many of which will turn into brand advocates simply because of the valuable information you post for free on your blog. 
  • Increase awareness of your company and what it has to offer. 

So next time you're looking to boost your image, remember that reciprocity can be a powerful tool.


Commitment and consistency are important because they build trust and credibility. People like to know they can rely on others to follow through on their commitments. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you make a promise, keep it. 

How can commitment and consistency improve your reputation?

Making commitments and consistently following through with them isn't just good for your personal relationships. It can also improve your reputation in your professional life.

If you're known for being reliable and trustworthy, people will be more likely to want to work with you and support you. Additionally, people are more likely to take you seriously if you're consistent in your words and actions. They know they can count on you to follow through, making them more likely to listen to what you have to say. 

Social proof / social persuasion

Social proof is a powerful persuasion technique because it taps into our natural tendency to follow the lead of others. If we see others doing something, we often assume it must be the right thing. That's why online reviews and testimonials can be so influential in persuasion. 

The phenomenon is known as informational social influence in psychology. In one experiment, researchers recruited participants to eat at an unfamiliar restaurant. The participants were told that most customers enjoyed eating there and rated the food positively. When they arrived at the restaurant, they found a sign saying that most customers had enjoyed their experience. These prompts all positively influenced the participant's opinion of the restaurant before they even tried the food. 

How can social proof improve your reputation?

When people see that others are happy with your product or service, they're more likely to trust you and give you a chance. That's why social proof is essential for building a strong reputation.

When someone Googles your name, they're likely to see social proof in the form of online reviews, testimonials, and endorsements. If they see that you have a strong track record of satisfied customers, they're much more likely to click on your link and give you their business. On the other hand, if they see that you have few reviews or that your reviews are mostly negative, well, that’s not going to inspire a lot of confidence.

So if you want to improve your reputation, make sure you're using social proof to your advantage. Show potential customers that others have been happy with your products or services:

  • Leverage customer testimonials
  • Encourage social media reviews
  • Outreach to social media influencers and other media
  • Build trust and persuade people that you're worth doing business with


Authority figures can be persuasive because we tend to believe those with expertise or experience. When trying to persuade someone, it helps to establish your authority on the subject matter.

You can establish your authority through: 

  • Displaying credentials, awards, and accolades on your website
  • Speaking as an expert in your niche
  • Regularly contributing guest posts to industry publications
  • Maintaining an active social media presence 
  • Earning a Wikipedia page 

Having these things shows that you know what you're talking about and that you're credible. As a result, people are more likely to listen to you and take you seriously. In turn, this can improve your reputation and make it easier to persuade others in the future.

How authority improves reputation

One of the first steps to establishing authority is through your website. Before you start any outreach, ensure your website displays your awards and accolades, professional accomplishments, and experience in your field. This is also a great time to build your blog by posting helpful information. 

Once your owned media is in good shape, you can focus on outreach to further strengthen your credibility. This includes:

  • Influencer outreach
  • Guest posting
  • Wikipedia creation (if you are notable enough)

When people see that you have been widely cited in the media or have received prestigious accolades, they can be more confident that you know your stuff. Ultimately, authority can improve your reputation by making people more likely to listen to you and take your opinion seriously.


Have you ever been in a situation where you've had to ask someone for a favor? Maybe you needed a ride to the airport or help moving some furniture. Regardless of the specifics, you were likely more successful in getting what you wanted if the person liked you. That's because people are more likely to comply with requests from individuals they like and admire. 

So when trying to persuade someone, it pays to focus on building rapport and developing a relationship. Get on their wavelength and try to find common interests. When people like you, they're more likely to take your request seriously. 

How can liking improve your reputation?

There’s no doubt liking can also improve your reputation. If people see that you're easy to get along with and that others like you, they'll be more likely to have a favorable opinion of you. Liking and building rapport are all about establishing connections and finding commonalities with your clients, prospects, or other audience. So next time you're trying to persuade someone, remember the power of liking and focus on building rapport.


Scarcity is another key principle of persuasion because humans naturally desire things that are rare or in short supply. When something is scarce, we perceive it as more valuable than when it's abundant. This perception of scarcity can be harnessed to increase persuasion power.

How can scarcity improve your reputation?

The principle of scarcity has been used in persuasion for centuries and can also be harnessed to improve your reputation. When people perceive you as being scarce, they will naturally view you as being more valuable. This boost in value can help to increase your persuasion power and make it easier for you to achieve your goals. 

Additionally, scarcity can help you to garner respect and admiration from others. By being rare or hard to find, you will stand out from the crowd and be seen as someone who is special and worth paying attention to. Of course, this only works if you actually are rare or in short supply. If you try to fake scarcity, people will see through it, and your reputation will most likely suffer. So take time to find that balance and don’t overdo it. 

Final thoughts

Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion can help you: 

  • Create a more positive image for your brand
  • Increase trust
  • Inspire people to take action

Applying these six principles of persuasion is not a guarantee that you will close every sale, but it can help to increase trust and credibility with your audience. They can be powerful tools for improving brand awareness and building a more positive online reputation. Have you tried any of these persuasion techniques? Let us know in the comments!

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