Competition is a Big Driver in Persuasion

Have ever you found yourself driving down the
road, lost in thought or just enjoying some music, keeping a safe distance
between you and the next car when all of a sudden someone comes barreling up
the lane next to you and obviously wants to get over? When that happens, do you
sometimes find yourself unconsciously speeding up? Maybe you’ve done so with
conscious thought.
Or how about when traffic is restricted due to
road construction. You’ve waited patiently as cars inch along and next thing
you know, someone goes as far to the front as they can get then they expect
someone to let them in. Have you found yourself not being the one to let them
in because you think, “If I had to wait they can wait, too!”
These are just some of the many familiar
situations you can find yourself in where competition begins to affect your
thinking and behavior. No need to feel bad if you do speed up a bit or don’t
always let someone over because it’s evolutionary. You see, you’re simply
responding to the principle of scarcity – we want more of what we can’t have
and we react negatively to what we might lose. That loss could be as simple as
our place in line on the highway.
When it comes to scarcity, competition ramps
up the effectiveness of this principle of influence. When you saw the person
coming up on the highway you were in competition with them for the spot in line
and their desire to get ahead of you made you more determined not to lose.
Think about something as simple as a sale.
“Sale Ends Sunday” is a form of scarcity. You can take your time getting to the
store because you know you have until closing time Sunday to get in on the
deal. But what if the ad says, “Sale – While Supplies Last”? Now you realize
waiting until Saturday or Sunday might mean you lose out because other people may
get to the store Friday. They don’t want to miss out on the great deal and
neither do you so you head to the store Friday afternoon also. Scarcity has changed
your behavior but competition even more so!
Another example might have occurred when you
were dating. Isn’t it the case that you value your partner more when you
realize someone else is also vying for his or her attention? You might have
been considering putting an end to the relationship but the entrance of someone
else can sometimes cause you to rethink the situation.
When it comes to effectively using the
principle of scarcity, limited time offers will motivate behavior but offers
that involve competition will be far more effective. With that in mind, you
need to think about ways to ethically invoke competition in order to get people
to want your product or service even more.
Perhaps the best picture of competition for
products happens every year the day after Thanksgiving. That day has become
known as Black Friday. Limited time deals cause people to wait in line starting
at midnight in some cases! You may have seen reports of people fighting and
being trampled on in the news as customers rush into stores for great deals on limited
quantity items. Seemingly normal, rational people begin to act like animals
fighting over the remains of a carcass before it’s all gone! That’s how
scarcity works on the mind because competition is a big driver in persuasion.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer


Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
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