Cialdini – Improve Your Copywriting

Cialdini – Improve Your Copywriting

by on 08/10/2014

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Roberts Cialdini published the book “Influence” in 1984, showing how it was possible to improve your copywriting to powerfully influence your readers. Or influence anyone else – such as colleagues and your children.

Specifically, Cialdini dug into his 35 years’ experience and collected tons of scientific research to identify the six key principles which influence people.

These six key principles should be burned into the brain of every potential marketer.

They are also useful to be aware of to avoid you ever becoming a sucker – because of these techniques being used on you!

You will be familiar with some of these principles – because you have been subjected to them over and over again, often in blatant fashion, by both online and off-line marketers.

If you are attempting to be a marketer yourself it will help you tremendously to have all six principles at your fingertips, so you can use it as a checklist every time you want to persuade anyone to take action – such as buying your stuff.

This is one book which should be on your bookshelf and should be studied carefully.

You really need to get the book to read the many memorable examples that Cialdini quotes: but here are the six principles in brief.


If someone does something for you, you feel the need, deep down, to do something back. This is the power behind the “Free report”, for example. The recipient is more likely to pay for information down the road, if the supplier has supplied a free report of quality.


Once someone has made an inner commitment to a course of action they will tend to act in accordance with it.

This is part of the power behind the “$1 trial”. Once someone has signed up, there is a tendency to want to continue.

Social Proof

If you see others doing something it’s much more likely you will follow their lead and do it too.

Market traders often “seed” the audience with their own people who would pretend to buy at the end of the trader’s pitch. Seeing such a “plant” handing over money definitely encourages buyers.

It also explains the power of using many testimonials on sales pages. Also, webinar presenters reading out comment after comment viewers are typing into the comment box when it suits their case: “Wow – Jeff says “right on”, Mona says: “you bet”…” etc, etc.

Lee McIntyre hits this “social proof” button really hard, if you’ve heard any of his webbies. (In fact, I find it a bit annoying. But it seems to work.)


This is a fairly obvious one – people buy from other folks they like.


This one is fascinating. If you can appear authoritative, people will do an enormous amount for you. Some of the studies Cialdini quotes in this chapter are shocking.

For example, some students who had been recruited, overwhelmingly chose to cause increasing pain to someone who they thought was their equal (it was actually an actor) when told to do so by a man in a white coat with a clipboard.

The actor ended up screaming in agony (pretend) while nearly all of the students kept upping what they thought was the pain level.

No-one’s suggesting you do this – but it’s a powerful example.

Actually, it doesn’t take much to look authoritative. And if you do, you will sell more stuff – it’s as simple as that.


I’m sure we are all aware of this one.

“Buy now before the price goes up.”

“This special bonus is only available until the end of next week.”

“I can only take on 10 clients…”

And then there is the effectiveness of the “dime sale” – where the price increases by $.10 every five minutes, or something along those lines. This has a big effect on boosting sales as does any other type of scarcity – with the proviso that it needs to be authentic. If not, it will go against the “liking” principle, above.

Get The Book


Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion


Cialdini’s Influence is a classic book which should definitely be in your library.

Then, every time you write a piece of copy intended to sell, check through to make sure you have covered as many of the six points as possible in your copy.

Keep doing this until it becomes a habit to improve your copywriting. Practice recalling the six key factors of influence until they trip off your tongue.

Three Favourite Copywriting Books

Whenever I want to write copy there are three, science-based reference books I will have on my desk:

1. Cialdini’s Influence  (see above) to remind me how people are influenced to make decisions.

2. This would be Cashvertising:

to remind me of powerful words to put in your headlines and your email subject lines.

3. Jason Fladlien’s 48 Hours Report  which is a template for FAST writing of copy, using the hot buttons connected to the 4 different learning styles, identified by Bernice McCarthy.and

I strongly recommend all three to improve your copywriting.

And, finally, Jason Fladlien’s:

48 Hour Report gives you a terrific template to enable you to write articles, reports, and even books (if you want to) quickly and in a way guaranteed to suit every learning style.

If you study these three books and also keep the latter two at hand any time you write any sort of copy, your internet marketing results will boom.

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