A Persuasion Trump Card

Are you a fan of Donald Trump’s show “The Apprentice?” When it first aired I watched it religiously because I learned some business tips but I don’t watch it so much anymore because there’s usually too much drama and too few tips. That said, I was watching an episode recently where Donald Trump’s new cologne, “Success by Trump,” was introduced. Each celebrity team’s challenge was to design an in-store display and come up with a slogan for the new fragrance which will be carried by Macy’s. The teams were judged by Trump and Macy’s executives on the creativity of their slogan, their brand messaging and the in-store display presentation they developed.

Aubrey O’Day, project manager for one team, suggested the tagline, “Trust your instinct.” Almost immediately Arsenio Hall found a Donald Trump quote online where The Donald asked, “Do you trust your instinct?”

At that very moment I knew Aubrey’s team would win the task. How did I know? I knew because I understand the principle of consistencyand it is very apparent Donald Trump is a pragmatic when it comes to personality type. Allow me to explain how these two facts led to my immediate conclusion.

Let’s start with one of Robert Cialdini’s six principles of influence, the principle of consistency, sometimes known as “commitment and consistency.” This principle tells us people feel internal psychological pressure to remain consistent in word and deed. Most people feel bad when they say they’ll do something but then back out, even if their reason for backing out is completely legitimate. That’s why people go to great lengths to keep their word.

In addition to that aspect of consistency we need to remember people are more easily persuaded to do something when it aligns with what they’ve already said or done. In other words, tying your product or idea to what someone has already publicly stated will make the persuasion process much easier. I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Several years ago I did a survey with my blog readers on personality types and influence approaches. Using a basic four quadrant DISC model (pragmatic, expressive, amiable, analytic) I had people self-identify then take a short survey so I could find out if there were influence approaches that worked best with certain personalities. My data clearly showed there were, and when it came down to it, for the pragmatic consistency was one of the three principles that worked best.

Pragmatics are described using these terms: action-orientated, decisive, problem solver, direct, assertive, demanding, risk taker, forceful, competitive, independent, determined, thrive on challenges, strong intrinsic motivation to succeed, practical, focused, results oriented, direct and straight to the point. Doesn’t that sound like Donald Trump to you?

Let me ask you a couple of questions about persuading someone like Donald Trump.

  1. Do you think he will be more persuaded by someone trying to buddy up to him using the liking principleor will he respond more to potential lost opportunities using scarcity? I vote scarcity every time.
  2. Do you think he will be more swayed by what everyone else is doing using consensusor more by the presentation of hard data using the authority principle? I’ll go with authority in this case.

As soon as Aubrey O’Day came up with the tagline and Arsenio Hall tied it to Trump’s own words it was a sure bet The Donald would love it. It was also a sure bet if he loved it the Macy’s executives would not try to change his mind. When both teams went to the board room I was proven correct.

What does this mean for you? In your attempt to persuade others you’ll certainly be more successful when you understand the psychology of persuasion and how to ethically leverage it. However, using a shotgun approach with the principles is akin to mass marketing which will never be as effective as target marketing that considers the specifics of the audience. In the same way, knowing the type of person you’re trying to persuade allows you to look for legitimate opportunities to use principles that will be most effective for that personality type.

Sure, Donald Trump likes to be liked and is somewhat interested in what others are doing, but if you rely on those to persuade him you’ll never be as effective as you could be by tapping into principles as I outlined in the questions above.

Here’s my advice: next time you go into an influence situation give thought to the personality type you’ll be dealing with then consider the best principles of influence to use. If you do so you’ll have a persuasion Trump card. To find out more about how to do this click on each of the personality types below.


Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
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