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As many of you know, I love books about consumer decision-making.  I also do a lot of catch up reading when I travel. I’m here in Singapore on my annual trip to assist in a Wharton/INSEAD course, Leading the Effective Sales Force, and I’m catching up on my reading.

On the flight here, I read Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini.  I’ve been a fan of Cialdini’s since I read Influence several years ago. His books bring just the right mix of friendly, accessible writing and academic rigor (there are 159 pages of references and notes!) for my taste.  The premise of the book is that there are an abundance of techniques to set the stage for more effective persuasion. Good marketers and persuaders (ethically) leverage these for their benefit. One example that fascinated me was a healthcare organization that eliminated violence-laden language (including phrases that might seem innocuous like “bullet-points”- now called “information-points” and using the word “goal” instead of “target”). While some might argue that this language has no impact, he follows up with lab-based research that shows evidence that laden-language leads to more aggression.

As marketers, we want our words to matter and to influence our potential customers. We also want to learn what works and what doesn’t. Fortunately, we’re in a golden age of data! Several inexpensive ad platforms including Google and Facebook, allow quick testing to see what visual and graphic content works and what doesn’t.  I’ve long advocated for using Facebook advertising tools for demographic and behavioral market data, but you can also easily test messaging to learn what is more and less effective.