Always Give a Reason Why

One of the most powerfully persuasive communication techniques is best summed up in a single word: “because.”

In Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, he cites a research study showing that simply adding the word “because” to a request multiplies the likelihood of compliance.

Interestingly, the study seems to indicate that the legitimacy of the reasons supplied did not seem as important to the outcome as you might suppose. In fact, it seems hardly necessary to have a real reason at all.

For example, you might ask to cut line at the post office, and be more likely to get a “yes” response from the person in front of you if you simply frame your question by saying something like, “Would it be possible for me to please cut a front of you in line, because I’m really in a hurry.”

That’s hardly persuasive salesmanship, yet having some reason seems to be better than having none.

I’m not suggesting that you engage in meaningless marketing. I am suggesting that you take the extra step that most people do not … and supply good reasons for your promotions and campaigns. Practically said, this means simply telling the truth about a situation.

If you own a retail store, for instance, and you need to sell your overstock of a certain line of kitchenware, it’s much better just come right out and say, “We thought these would sell better, they didn’t, and now we need to get rid of them. So we put them on sale to motivate you to buy them.”

While that may not seem like brilliant copy, and admittedly it isn’t, it is a legitimate reason why you’re lowering the price of your merchandise. People respond to such reasoning, and the result is usually more profits.

This is not a new concept. John E Kennedy wrote an entire book on the subject, called Reason Why Advertising. I highly recommend that you read this work, and apply its principles to your own marketing.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Good tip. Luckily, with enough marketing experience, this becomes second nature and you don’t have to “force” this, it is just something that comes matter-of-fact with whatever you are promoting/creating. Nice post.