Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Sometimes I’m tempted to upgrade to YouTube Red so I don’t have to watch all the ads, but then an ad comes along that changes my life. Well, almost.

Yesterday, a video that I can’t even remember was preceded by an ad I’ll never forget. Maybe you’ve seen it, too. It opened with a scruffy-looking man in his back yard saying, “Yeah, so this is my back yard…” except this wasn’t just any back yard. It was mostly a gigantic swimming pool, sited behind a luxurious home in Beverly Hills. The next five and a half minutes consisted of the scruffy man, Tai Lopez, nonchalantly taking me on a tour of his uber-house while promising to reveal the Three Secrets of Success.

He was disarmingly casual, not even sure how many bedrooms the house had (18, or was that the number of bathrooms?), nor which of his many cars were in this particular property’s garage at the moment (they turned out to be the Ferrari and the “Lambo”).

I admit that I watched the whole thing. Even after all these years of knowing that wealth can’t buy happiness, I still wish I were rich. Call me irrational.

Not only did I watch the whole thing, but I clicked through to his website because it turned out that if you want to learn the Three Secrets of Success, that’s what you have to do.

Fortunately, I was still rational enough that I googled for some reviews before typing in my credit card number. There was a thread on reddit that cooled my jets.

One redditor said,

When pertaining to things of this nature, try this rule of the internet: If it’s not worth stealing then it’s not worth anything at all, and nothing of Mr Tai has made it to Pirate Bay.

As one person replied, “Holy shit, that’s actually brilliant in a warped way.”

Another user said he created a reddit account just to offer his take:

I’ll be honest, Tai’s commercial is the entire reason I joined his site- Because I have never before seen an advertisement that hit every single one of the cognitive biases listed in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, and I thought that anyone who put together a commercial like that must have some idea of what they were doing…. That 2-hour commercial can probably teach you more about marketing and sales than the entire rest of the 67 steps combined.

The commercial I had watched was only five and a half minutes, not two hours, but I could appreciate what this redditor said. He went on to explain exactly how Tai had exploited our cognitive biases. For example,

He … spends a lot of time flattering the viewer ham-handedly. “If you’ve watched this far, you’re obviously pretty smart” came up at several times… When someone compliments you, even when it’s obviously fake… You like them more. Maybe only a little bit, but it’s a measurable amount, and the Principle of Liking states that if you like someone, you’re more likely to buy what they’re selling you.

Although the ad I saw was much, much shorter, I realized the Principle of Liking was how he had hooked me. I mean, he had invited me into his home! And we were such good buddies that he hadn’t even bothered to shave first!

Next, I’d like to talk about his convenient user testimony. The Social Proof– Other people think this is a good thing! They like it! You know, Tai hasn’t heard of anyone not liking the program at all! So, clearly… If you try it, you will find it valuable, because everyone else did.

Anyone who has been in a church knows how moving a “testimony” can be, and how being surrounded by scores of true believers provides a powerful Social Proof for the religion on offer.

The Appeal to Authority is another principle in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Tai Lopez has invested years gathering wisdom from many wise people and had boiled it all down to just 67 steps. As the redditor said,

He’s not the one who came up with this, he claims- It was other people, wiser people, respected people. Authorities, you might say, which he is appealing to.

Tai’s website is masterfully done. Instead of a Buy Now button, he has Click Here to Claim Your Spot (the Principle of Scarcity). Once you do that, you must check a box that says you agree to “follow these guidelines,” which are not guidelines at all but statements designed to get you more excited. By the time Tai asks for your credit card information, you have already checked that box, so the Principle of Commitment and Consistency makes it harder for you to change your mind.

Human beings are so smart, but we’re still so stupid. We even know the ways in which we’re likely to be stupid, and we still get hoodwinked. I almost fell for this one, and I can think of products, not to mention an entire way of life, I have fallen for that cost me a whole lot more than $67/month.

How about you? Have you had any close calls, or worse? Please leave a comment. I’ve told you my story for free; but don’t let the Principle of Reciprocity induce any feeling of obligation on your part. 😉


2 responses to “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

  1. I believe objects on offer in the world are not what we are truly seeking. As you say, wealth is not a lasting source of Happiness.

  2. I was subscribed to him for a while on YouTube , weeded out the nonsense and left with the insight I needed. Good blog!

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