What Goes Around Comes Around

This post is part of a series on Design for Engagement.

Engagement > Persuasiveness>


To gain followers: Serve.

A woman hands you a rose as she walks past your table on the piazza. A moment later she is back, with her hand out, asking for a donation. Giving her some money feels like the easiest thing to do.

Free mortgage calculators at US Mortgage Corp inspire reciprocation
The rule of Reciprocity is a deep-seated response that makes us feel we are somehow obligated to repay debts of all kinds. We feel bound to say yes because of favours received in the past. As the flower girl example shows, the favour need not be large or especially significant. Reciprocation is part of the glue that binds society together.

Web sites that provide useful free information such as how-to tips, whitepapers, instructional videos, or calculators use the rule of reciprocation to persuade you to do business with them, on the principle that one good turn leads to another.

Personalized gifts are more powerful (image: This Tasty Life)
Personalized gifts enhance the sense of obligation in the recipient. For example, many restaurants will offer a free dessert or drink to patrons celebrating a birthday. Starbucks, CVS, and Anthropologie, among others offer similar birthday rewards. The effect is enhanced if the recipient’s personal name is on the gift.

Bottom Line

  • Give before asking anything from your audience.
  • Provide a free gift or service to make your audience more receptive to your proposition.
  • Personalize your gift or service for the recipient.

I made this for you. Please leave a comment below. Please engage.

This post is part of a series on building customer engagement.

If your interests extend to theory and philosophy, please check out my other blog.


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