How a single word can control your prospects' actions

friday, 23 june of 2017

by Tom Trush

In an experiment described in the book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," author Robert Cialdini reveals an almost magical mind trick you can easily apply to your marketing message.

In fact, it involves adding only one word to your copy.

The technique is based on the principle that people seek reasons for taking action when you ask them to do something.

As Cialdini explained, Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer demonstrated this fact when she went into a library and attempted to cut in front of several people lined up to use the copier.

During the first test, she used the following appeal: "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?"

This request-plus-reason approach resulted in 94% of the people allowing her to skip ahead in line.

Next, she shortened her request and tested it on another set of people. "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?" she said.

This time only 60% of the people complied.

At first glance, you might suspect the drop in response during the second test was due to the missing phrase "because I'm in a rush"

But Langer made a third request that proved the entire phrase wasn't the difference. Instead, the disparity was a result of a just one word ?- "because."

"Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?" she said in her final appeal.

This request resulted in 93% of the people giving up their space in line.

Surprisingly, she experienced this high success rate even though she didn't provide a motive or any extra information that would warrant anyone taking action. All she did was add the word "because" and restate the obvious.

So next time you want to pump up the persuasion in your copy, include the word "because." This simple word acts as a trigger that not only tells your prospects why they should comply, but also increases the likelihood they will take action


Tom Trush is available at