These words may are so simple. Only two words and as short as anything.
Yet when I said them to my husband years ago, they set the course for a lifetime of decisions.
They helped chart my path as I hit many forks in the road, impacting actions I’ve taken for years afterwards.
For when you declare yourself . . . and most noticeably to someone else – you hold yourself to that promise. And you’re more likely to take actions consistent with that promise.
Now, marriage is one thing. But the funny thing is, buying a box of cereal can be part of the same phenomenon.
This same mechanism for following through with an initial action and promise holds true for even everyday activities like shopping.
There are two things operating here:
- When people actively and publicly make a commitment, they are more likely to follow through with it.
- When people take one action, they are more likely to take a second action consistent with the first one.
In one of my favorite marketing books, Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Cialdini, Goldstein, and Martin, the authors talk about a great example of how this functions . . .
A couple of social scientists asked some college students to help on a volunteer project. They signed them up using two methods. One set of students actively signed up by filling out a form. The other group signed up in a more passive manner. They just left the form blank where it had an option to say, "I will not be volunteering".
According to the researchers neither signup method impacted the number of signups.
What was different – however – was how many students from each group actually showed up to volunteer. Of the passive group, only 17% showed up. With the active group, a whopping 49% showed up.
The same thing works for fitness.
Canadian family fitness challenge winner, Nicole Wetsch, said that keeping a family blog that was instrumental in helping them follow through with their initial commitment to increasing their activity. Just putting their intentions out there for friends and family to read made them stick to it.
The same thing is true with marketing. It’s why retail stores insist that layaway customers fill out their lay away agreement forms instead of the clerks.
It’s why so many direct mail packages get better response rates when they have the prospect stick a sticker on the response form.
When prospective customers take some kind of action – however small – it increases their level of commitment to the purchase in the long run.
So how does this work out when it comes to increasing online sales?
Here are a few examples of how I’ve seen it applied:
Ø Internet marketer Mark Joyner coined the term "integrated marketing". And if you purchase any of his products online, you’ll know what it means.
As soon as you commit to downloading a free offer or purchasing a product, you are presented to another offer that is consistent with your first commitment.
For example, if you initially purchase an ebook on a single topic, he offers you a steep discount for purchasing the entire set of workbooks that are "essential" complements to the initial ebook.
Ø Jigsaw Health uses this when they sell their customers supplements. After you’ve made your initial purchase, you are offered a second bottle of one of the items you purchased for close to a 20% discount.
Both companies intensify the push to follow through with your initial commitment by adding some other pressure element. Mark Joyner let’s you know that this is the only time you’ll get this offer of the complete set at this discount.
And Jigsaw Health tells you that you only have 10 seconds to decide on adding the second bottle to your purchase. A timer ticks down as you debate whether to add the additional bottle to your order.
Ø Jeff Walker uses this in his Product Launch Formula when he’s building up his pre-launch excitement.
He finds he can get tremendous testimonials when he tags them onto the end of a survey. When people have already gone through the effort to fill out survey questions, they are more willing to go one step further and provide testimonials and contact information. Even when it’s been made clear that they had finished the survey before being asked to provide a testimonial.
Key to making this commitment thing work is this:
- Start with a small and easy commitment and build on it. Get your prospects over the initial hump as easily as possible.
- Connect the dots. Remind them why taking the second action is consistent with their first action. Encourage that thought flow by pointing out the connection. Even if it seems obvious to you.
- Provide reference points. Just like Amazon.com does, remind them of previous purchases or declared interests that indicate something you’re suggesting might be perfect for them. BTW, this is another good reason for segmenting your list for better response rates.
- Make it active or public. Have them check a box at the beginning of a sales letter. Reward them when they "like" your fan page.
As you plan your marketing campaigns, think about how you can get your prospects to commit to something up front. And how you can build on that initial commitment for a deeper, more lasting relationship.
Let me know how you’ve seen this work in your own campaigns – or where you think it could work. I’d love to find more ways to "marry" prospects to the purchase . . .