How to Use Robert Cialdini’s Influence Principles in Your Content Marketing Strategy: Part 1 – Reciprocity

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alexmangrolia_wYou would think that content marketing is simply writing, sharing and connecting with others, but there is a deeper psychology based within this entire influential circle. In the book Influence by Robert Cialdini, he talks about how in life we would like to think that people are rational beings. In fact, we are not, I’m sure that you are aware of this by now. The reality is that we as people are overburdened to the point where our minds create simple shortcuts on how to make decisions.  Influence goes over 6 universal principle shortcuts on how to influence people. I’m going to show you how to use the first rule of Influence, reciprocity, in your content marketing strategy. Don’t worry I will go over the other rules as well in a series.

What are the 6 Principles of Influence?

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Scarcity
  3. Authority
  4. Consistency
  5. Liking
  6. Consensus

What is the Rule of Reciprocity?

People have an obligation to give back the same gift or service that they have been given first. For example, if a friend invites you to a party, then you have to invite that friend to a party you host in the future.

In the context of a social obligation, people are much more likely to say “Yes” to something when they owe you a favor. This seems simple enough right?

Here is the major kicker!

The largest studies were done in restaurants.

A waiter will give you a gift roughly around the time they bring you the bill.

What’s the gift? It could be a mint, chocolate or fortune cookies. It might not seem that the mint would actually play a substantial role, but it’s amazing that it does.

In the study, diners who received one mint had a tip increase of roughly 3%. When it came down to leaving 2 mints the numbers didn’t just doubled, but they went up by 14% increase in tips.

The most interesting factor is when the waiter left one mint and then starts to walk away, pauses and turns back,  and says “this is a mind just for you”, the tips go up by 23%, not just by what was given but how it was given.

The key here is to make sure that you are the first to give, make it personalized and unexpected.

How to Use them in Your Content Marketing Strategy?

Now that you have your brains going a bit, you’re probably trying to think of ways to actually use this rule. First off, let’s be ethical about this. You want to make sure that whatever you’re giving away still has a value to it, because you don’t want someone waking up and saying “hey you gave me a mint and I just gave you a $30 tip?”. You do want to really mitigate the risks of what I like to call the wakeup stage. So instead make sure that you do offer a tremendous value and you’ll get a tremendous value in return.

Here are some ways you can use this rule:

  1. Write a Blog Article: Yes, that’s right the simple act of offering a highly informative blog article is a way of giving. Next time, when you ask for someone’s email or for them to buy from you, they won’t really have too much resistance in saying yes.
  2. Free Books, Articles, webinars and podcasts: This is something that’s pretty standard, we offer tons of value for FREE! When you offer these materials and give someone something that they can use, the law of reciprocity kicks in. Now, when you increase the funnel and say ask for $97 for your course or your products or services, you have broken down the barrier for your potential users.
  3. Free Trials: I love this only because it fully mitigates the risk. People are much more willing to actually use something that is free and once they feel this is right for them, you can actually get them to commit.
  4. Free Samples: This works just like the free trail.
  5. Personalize eBook downloads based on pages: What if you could offer a free ebook based upon the categories someone is searching for. One tool that I really love is optinmonster, the tool is amazing. You can actually target offers and specify them to pages. For example, if you are talking about blue widgets on a page, then you can offer an eBook about blue widgets on that page and you can do the same for your red widgets.
  6. Free consultations: This works just like the free trial and free samples. Offer a free 15 minute to free 30-minute consultation.

Note: If you actually offer this information and they person says “No”, well then you could use the withdraw technique and ask for some names and phone number of friends and family. You’re still getting something out of this that could be of a tremendous value.


I would love to hear from you! Seriously, share some tips and tricks on how you feel you could use the law of reciprocity in your marketing strategies. Until next time, if you feel like you got some value out of this blog then please share this with your friends, family, and colleagues.


About Alex Mangrolia
My passion is Internet marketing in the SEO, SEM & Social Media marketing space. I love creating cutting edge strategies, generate traffic and leads. My unending thirsts for knowledge and personal growth give me the drive to continual improve & perform.

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