yukai chou gamification

Chapter-by-Chapter Takeaways of Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

Gamification Book

Gamification and Persuasion

Gamification is about understanding human motivation and engagement, and therefore a big part of it is psychological and behavioral studies. So on top of the countless tiring hours of playing games to…understand why they are fun, I read the book Titled Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Robert Cialdini (an expert in many Black Hat Core Drives in my Octalysis Framework) to understand subtle human drives better. I thought it was one of the better books out there written on the topic, so this month I dug it out again and decided to review it another time.

Since my blog is primarily about sharing the knowledge I acquire, I have decided to share a chapter-by-chapter takeaway of the book. Below I have tried to summarize the point of each chapter into 1-3 sentences. It mostly covers the end conclusion, but does not include as much support/examples to necessarily be convincing to you. If you want to dig deeper into the data of the points below, I encourage you to check out the book yourself. I also attached at the end of each chapter the primary Core Drive that it appeals to in Octalysis.

Chapter 1: Inconveniencing people can improve your results. This is because people perceive your demand as higher when they have to work harder to work with you. Sometimes “perceived inconvenience” requires no change on the actual interaction but is useful. “Call now. Operators are waiting.” is WAY less effective than, “If operators are busy, please try again.” (Core Drives 6)

Chapter 2: Mention how other people that are SIMILAR made the choice that you are pushing. “Customers who stayed at this room generally are neater.” “Oh! Many of our best customers go to Cornell!” (Core Drive 1)

Chapter 3: Don’t push for “others behave badly. You should be special and do better.” Usually that makes people feel like doing badly is the norm, and makes them want to do bad too. “80% of the people litter. You should take care of your planet” = bad. (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 4: Make the “magnetic middle” very high and obvious. Attach emotional messages like smiley faces when people are doing well and above the average. (Core Drive 2)

Chapter 5: Providing less choices to your customers can 10x your sales conversions. Avoid decision paralysis.  The exception is when customers 1. Enjoy the picking experience (shopping for ice-cream) or 2. Already know what they want and are just looking for places that have it. (Core Drive 8)

Chapter 6: If you are giving away something for free, ALWAYS state the actual value to avoid it being devalued. (Core Drive 4)

Chapter 7: Having a superior, more expensive product will help sales of the original, lower quality product. Make sure you always want the one you plan to sell as the middle-ground. (Core Drive 4)

Chapter 8: A message of fear is very effective , but ONLY when there’s a clear call to action attached. Fear itself causes people to block it out because they are uncomfortable. (Core Drive 8)

Chapter 9: Doing favors that have no direct benefit make people feel obliged to reciprocate later on. This is like how Zappos does business, as well as Gary Vaynerchuk’s Thank-You Economy. (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 10: If you put a post-it note on your messages, letters, surveys, you will yield MUCH better and faster results. Of course, this is most effective when it has your handwriting, signature, and “Thank you,” but surprisingly, just having a post-it note without anything on it is still more effective than a piece of paper with typed “thank you” messages attached. Use post-it notes when you want people to respond positively! (Core Drive 7)

Chapter 11: If a waiter gives a customer one mint, walks away, and then comes back and adds another mint, saying, “Here’s an extra one for you!” he/she can increase the tip by 23%. This is way more effective than just including 2 (or 3) mints at the beginning, which yields similar results as including 1 mint at the beginning. All this is obviously still better than just leaving it in a jar at the door. Establish the norm first, and then make them feel “special.” (Core Drive 2)

Chapter 12: Based on the reciprocation effect, if you say, “I have already done this. Can you also do this?” yields a 45% better result than saying, “If you do this, I will match it and do it too.” (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 13: Favors behave like wine for the giver and bread like the receiver. The longer its been, the higher value it is placed in the giver’s memory, and the lower value it is placed in the receivers memory. It becomes more effective if the giver says things like, “I know you will do the same in the future.” and then do a reminder when he needs favor back, “Remember when I did this for you? How much did it help you back then?” to make them relive the feelings of being helped during that time. (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 14: If you can get people to agree to help you on a small and reasonable thing first, you can double the amount of people that will agree to a big and unreasonable request (like “Help us with a study where we will have 5-6 men go into your home for 2 hours, go through all the cupboards and drawers to evaluate what type of products do you buy.”) (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 15: The labeling technique – if you label people to be good, they become good. Luke Skywalker: “I know there’s still good in you!” William Wallace: “There is strength in you. I can see it!” “You’re different. You understand the value of marketing and loyalty programs.” (Core Drive 1)

Chapter 16: Getting light weighted commitments. A restaurant decreased their reservation no-shows from 30% to 10% by simply changing: “Please call if you have to cancel” to “Will you please call if you have to cancel?” People are lazy to call and cancel, but since they said “yes” they would call, they feel they have to show up if they didn’t cancel. Candidates can get more supporters on the polls by saying “I’m glad! We’ll mark you down as a “yes” and I’ll let the others know as well.” Because the promise is now 1. Voluntary, 2. Active, and 3. Publicly declared to others. People should ask friends, “If I did this, will you back me?” before they do something. If we can get customers to make some type of verbal “yes” for meetings like, “If you become unavailable last moment, will you please send me a message?” might get us less no-shows. (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 17: If you can get people to write things down, they are more committed. Retail stores get more commitment from people who fill out the forms themselves vs having the employee fill out the form. Having a clinic write down the next appointed time and giving the patient a note SIGNIFICANTLY decreases the no-show or cancels of that patient. (Core Drive 2)

Chapter 18: People want to be consistent to their own ways. This becomes even more true for older people, but you should explain why the new choice is consistent with what people already do or believe. One thing to note is that you can’t let them feel that their last choice was a mistake when persuading them to do something new, so it’s good to bring up, “With the information and options back then, it was really smart of you to pick that because it does a really good job on what you believe in, which is customer service. That’s also why it makes a lot more sense now to use us because we drive customer-service to its core.” Basically, they need an out from past bad decisions or else they stay stubborn. (Core Drive 8)

Chapter 19: Again, if someone does you a favor, they like you better. By asking people to help you on a tiny favor, even people who are generally “too good” to talk to you, they immediately think better of you, even though you didn’t do anything to help them. They now have to justify to themselves, “well I’m sure was doing this for him for a very good reason – he’s a great guy!”‘ (Core Drive 2)

Chapter 20: This is another one where asking for a little can have bigger benefits. Basically, for door-to-door donations, adding “even a penny will help” not only gets a lot more people to put money in, the average donation size overall does not decrease. Other applications include “Can you just give me a little clarity” “Just a brief phone call would make a huge difference.” (Core Drives 2 and 5)

Chapter 21: Start low in bidding. Pretty much, if the price of an item is really really low in a bid, you will get more people to bid on it, compete against each other, and add social proof. It usually ends up becoming more expensive than otherwise. However, if your market is limited to a few people to begin with, it does not work as well. (Core Drives 2 and 5)

Chapter 22: Credentials matter…without showing off. Basically, conversions are much better if they know you have impressive credentials.  But the credential should come from someone else, not you. The surprising study, is that conversions are still a lot higher when you paid someone to say good things about you, AND the customers knows that you paid them to say these things. A small change that yield a lot more appointments was having the receptionist say on the phone, “Oh! Then you should talk to Dr X, who has over 15 years of experience in this field and won multiple awards.” before transferring. It’s effective to have one member of the team impress potential clients and then say, “You should meet my coworker. He’s so super smart he always makes me feel like an idiot!” Then the client will think, “Wow! That guy must be a complete genius then!” and your coworker will be more persuasive. Finally, if its impractical to get someone to say your credentials, you should have your credentials on the wall…or probably email signatures. (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 23: The hidden danger of being the brightest person in the room. The 2 scientists that discovered DNA said that the reason they were able to discover it over a ton of geniuses was because, they “were far from the smartest” and they knew it. They said that the most intelligent person was “Rosalind Franklin, and that “Rosalind was so intelligent that she rarely sought advice. And if you’re the brightest person in the room, then you’re in trouble.”

This chapter talks about how no matter how smart you are, getting a collective to contribute ideas can generate the best idea either just from others, or from others stimulating your thinking process. The book emphasizes that there still should be one person who makes the ultimate decision for efficiency. Finally, in regards to someone feeling rejected if their ideas were turned down, as long as you CLEARLY make him feel that all his points and arguments were considered when you made your final decision, he’s generally fine. (Core Drive 6)

Chapter 24: Having a Devil’s Advocate can actually turn out to be worse than without one. A true dissenter is very useful in an organization in terms of creative brainstorming and problem solving. However a “dedicated” Devil’s Advocate often can backfire, because most people wouldn’t take these arguments serious, as they think its disagreeing just to disagree. Furthermore, after talking to the Devil’s Advocate’s often weak arguments, organizations feel more confident in their original position because “we’ve considered every angle!!” The books suggests that the only true solution is to create a culture of true dissension, which means disagreements are encouraged, never punished (tangibly or emotionally), and dealt with patiently. (Core Drive 8)

Chapter 25: People learn more by seeing the incorrect way, as opposed to the correct way. Having them go through things correctly many times is not as effective as having them go through something incorrectly and corrected once. (Core Drive 8)

Chapter 26: People trust you more on your advantages if you reveal a minor weakness upfront. Progressive is the first company that has an engine to allow customers to easily search quotes for everyone else. The Beetle vehicle looked weird so it used that as a campaign to make people value the other advantages: “It will stay ugly longer.” “The Peace Corps: the toughest job you’ll ever love.” “Motel 6: Our rooms aren’t fancy, but our prices aren’t fancy.” “Avis. We’re #2, but we try harder (When you’re not #1, you have to.”) Key is that you also have to explain why the flaw is minor and not essential. “Some customers don’t like our product because they’re pretty comfortable with what they have right now, but the ones who do end up loving us.” (Core Drives 1 and 5)

Chapter 27: When choosing faults, choose one that has 2-sides. Just saying “Our restaurant has little space” yields bad results, but saying, “Our restaurant is very cozy” yields better results. Furthermore, saying, ” There’s little space, but that makes the atmosphere cozy” yields the greatest results. This means that saying, “Our product is more expensive, but it definitely lasts longer” works better than just “Our product lasts longer than most others.” A headhunter once said to me, “I’m not cheap, but I’m definitely worth your while” and it definitely sounded like she had more credibility than someone who just says “I’m good!” (Core Drive 6)

Chapter 28: Studies have shown that people who blame themselves when something goes wrong are more trusted than people who blame external environments. This is because it seemed like what went wrong can be controlled. A company that says, “Our profits are down because of internal management issues” will yield higher stock increases compared to the same company that says, “Our profits are down due to the economic recession and some natural disasters.” The book says that even though it is good on all fronts to take responsibility of failures, usually the embarrassment and ego of one individual could ruin it all. (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 29: People subconsciously like things that are named similarly to them. People respond to surveys more if it was given by someone with a similar name: Cynthia Johnston to Cindy Johanson. Pointing other similarities could help too (hometown, favorite ball team, etc. etc.) (Core Drive 7)

Chapter 30: Very interestingly, people choose careers that have similar names to them. On average, there are 2x more Dennis’ as Dentists than there are Jerry’s or Walter’s, even though nationally they are about the same in numbers. There are disproportionally more GEOrge or Geoffrey in geography than others. There are 2x more hardware store people with names starting with H compared to R, but there are 2x more roofers with names starting with R compared to H. This means that if you name a product/service, you should custom the name towards your client. Peterson at Pepsi should get the “Pepsi Proposal” or even the “Peterson Plan.” Young Harold might be more open to reading a book like Harry Potter….(Core Drive 7)

Chapter 31: Mirroring and repeating people verbatim can build more trust. If you mirror people’s body language or if you say what they say to you back (compared to cheerfully agreeing), they like you more (and give you more tip money etc.) (Core Drives 1 and 5)

Chapter 32: Study shows that genuine smiles are liked, but fake smiles create mistrust. Hard to take action on this, but the idea is to be genuine and see the good out of people. (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 33: People respond better when you point out a piece of supporting information that is uniquely known by you AND that you point out it is uniquely known by you. People like exclusivity and having that “edge” in terms of info. (Core Drive 6)

Chapter 34: People respond better to things they would lose. Instead of saying what people will gain when using your product, it will be better when they already feel like they have it, and then they would lose it if certain conditions were met. The example here is New Coke: tastes better, went through tons of tests, people liked it, but failed miserably when launched. Some of the biggest advocates didn’t even care they chose New Coke in blind tests, when they felt they were losing something, they created clubs and filed lawsuits. (Core Drive 8)

Chapter 35: For some reason the word “because” strengthens your case, even if the reason is not that great. People subconsciously attach the word “because” to good reasoning. You get to cut in a long line for printing more often if you say “Can I go ahead of you, because I need to make copies?” even though everyone needs to make copies too. For bigger things, the reason has to be good. But apparently the word “because” is powerful. (Core Drive 8)

Chapter 36: People judge how pleasant things are by how easy it is to imagine the pleasantness. If you ask someone to name 10 good things about a BMW compared to a Benz and people come up with 5, they will dislike BMW compared to Benz. But if you just ask them to name 1 good thing about BMW compared to Benz, they will like BMW more. This is because it was a lot easier to come up with one, and so they thought BMW is better. They struggled to come up with 10. Visual experiences are also better than abstract experiences. Basically, if people can visualize or think about something easily in their heads, they think it’s better. (Core Drive 2)

Chapter 37: Simple names and words are more compelling. Interestingly….stocks that have easy names that can be pronounced outperform stocks that are hard to pronounce. People think sentences with easy words are more compelling, compared to those who purposely use sophisticated words to sound smart. (Core Drive 2)

Chapter 38: Sentences that rhyme seem to be more convincing. Studies shown that people believe “What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals” but do not believe “What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks.” Same as “Caution and measure will win you treasure” over “Caution and measure will win you riches.” This can be applied to mottos, jingles, trademarks, etc. Speculation says that in the O.J. Simpson murder trial if the attorney said to the jury “If the gloves don’t fit, you must find him not guilty!” it would become less effective compared to what he really said, “If the gloves don’t fit, you must acquit!” (Core Drive 7)

Chapter 39: Perceptions are all relative. If a person first hears about something that’s terrible, then a new okay-item would sound great. It even doesn’t matter if the last thing is completely unrelated. For sales, it’s advantageous to first spend a short amount of time saying something that doesn’t sound as good, and then spend a long time saying the awesome stuff right after. Sales increased by 500% when a hot tub seller started to tell his potential customers that his existing customers reported having a hot tub is like having an extra room in the house, AND ask them to consider the price if they were to really add another room to the house. In contrast to building a new room, the hot tub is cheap!

Chapter 40: For loyalty programs, completion/redemption rate is MUCH higher when people feel like they have a head start. Instead of giving people a punch card with 10 empty slots, it is much more effective to have a punch card with 11 empty slots and the first time you give them 2 punches. Basically, people are more likely to complete something if it’s already started. If a potential customer feels like a part of hher work/due diligence has already been completed by someone else, she is more likely to move forward. Same with projects within a team (“I already started the first page. Can you look into the rest?”) (Core Drive 2)

Chapter 41: Apparently, people like names that are weird and requires some guessing. People prefer crayon colors with weird descriptions like “millennium orange,” where they can guess and can reach some type of “aha!” moment that them feel good about themselves and the product. I personally feel like this slightly conflicts with a tip above that says everything should be easy to visualize and imagine. (Core Drive 3)

Chapter 42: Product (or action items) need to have cues that connect to prior messaging/marketing. Nowadays, people are confused whether the battery drum-playing bunny is the Energizer Bunny or the Duracell Bunny. Having next to the batteries the Bunny image would help with sales. Drug campaigns aren’t effective until they are seen at the event of someone actually doing drugs. (Core Drive 7)

Chapter 43: Mirrors (and sometimes paintings of eyes) can make a person more moral. When they see themselves in a mirror, they don’t do dishonest things. People steal less and pay on time better with a mirror. (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 44: When you are sad, you are bad at negotiating. You can judge the presence or absence of something, but not the magnitude of numbers, which means that people can easily screw you with the fine numbers. The book emphasizes that this knowledge is only to ensure that you don’t negotiate or make decisions when you are sad. If you purposely make another person sad for negotiations and submit to a bad deal, afterwards they would know and become bitter towards it – something that will screw you up. (NA)

Chapter 45: Studies have shown that if you lack sleep or are distracted, you start to believe everything you read. Again, don’t be in a position that’s being persuaded if you lack sleep or are seriously distracted. I guess that’s why someone talks consistently when they want you to sign a contract. (NA)

Chapter 46: If you drink coffee, you are more receptive to messages with good reasoning. However, if the reasoning is bad, you won’t be affected. Basically, as long as you have a good case, talking to someone after they had their coffee shot will yield better results. (NA)

Chapter 47: Internet communications lack mutual knowledge and rapport so in general it’s not as persuasive. It would be more effective to people you’ve never met before if you took the first emails to build relationships and do some e-schmoozing. Studies show that groups that do this first agree on a negotiation that both sides are happy about sooner. (Core Drive 5)

Chapter 48: Culture differences: some nations are more individualistic (US) and some are more collectivistic (Asia). In individualistic cultures, you say, “This product can make you great!” In collectivistic countries it should say, “This product makes your friends happy!” (Core Drive 1)

Chapter 49: Individualistic countries have people who stick to their commitments better when reminded that they themselves made a commitment. Collectivistic country people stick to their commitments better when you remind them that they are representing their group. (Core Drive 1)

Chapter 50: People from collectivistic countries are more unsettled by voicemail messages because they can’t read the responses. Basically, leaving voicemails instead of talking face-to-face in some countries like Japan may hurt relationships. (Core Drive 5)

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