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Reciprocity Marketing - Put Social Psychology to Work

Reciprocity Marketing - Put Social Psychology to Work

 I was thinking about how a marketing website can be a tool for doing good - good for others, good for yourself. I’ve been reviewing the 6 Social Psychology persuasion effects in human cultures, and they’ve set me to thinking, especially the first one.


One of those universal social effects is Reciprocation – the drive to “return the favor” when someone gives us something we perceive as valuable.

Our Expertise

I was thinking that when we build a site promoting some product or service we have (or we learn) some expertise. We then use our expert knowledge to locate people online who have the particular problem to which our product is the solution. Then we again use our expertise to try to get them to visit our site so that we can “sell them”on buying our product – again using our expertise.

When we do this successfully, we benefit from the proceeds of a sale and the customer benefits from gaining the solution to their problem. But is that all there is to it?

Our Personal Tone

How we approach this drives the design, content and sales process of our website. And it also sets a tone, the “feel” part of what we call the website “look and feel”. That tone tells the visitor a lot about us personally. As Dr. Flint McGaughlin, head of MECLABS.com likes to remind us,“People don’t buy from websites – they buy from people.”

Your visitors look for the person behind the site – you. They're equipped by centuries of human culture with an excellent ability to read you and your motives.


There are so many ways we can doom our marketing sites. A website tone based on the obsolete “hard sell” is one. Selling of this kind has a well-earned bad reputation. Traditional mass media hard selling is shrill, annoying and untruthful. It treats us like idiot zombies and gets in our faces hundreds of times daily.

Today's sophisticated site visitors purely hate to be “sold at”. So do I and probably so do you. Hard selling online is committing active “anti-marketing”. It generates dislike, not followers. Why would anyone buy something from you when you've just insulted them with a hard sell?

Why do we try to sell at people on our sites when it’s not even in our self-interest? I suspect a kind of lazy force-of-habit, a thoughtless greed and perhaps desperation.

Marketing Without Selling

Even sales sites that don’t use the hard sell put up needless barriers to their own sales success. Too often they work on a strict ”pay-to-play” basis. These sites say. “IF you give us a sale, THEN we’ll give you this free bonus.” “IF you sign up for our newsletter, THEN you’ll also get this and that.” It’s just barter. “IF you give us your money or your valuable personal information, ONLY THEN will we help you solve your problem.” This is not the best way to build long-term business relationships.

What do you think would happen if you used your expertise to just flat out help people – no deal involved, no barter? What if you used reciprocity? What if you didn’t turn away everyone empty-handed who didn’t buy or sign up to your list, but actually did them some good instead?

Think About It

Wouldn’t you get more traffic with less effort if you gave real help for free? Wouldn’t such “free samples” demonstrate the value of your offer? Wouldn’t it help establish trust and authority? Wouldn't visitors keep returning for more?

And wouldn't more people want to find out about you and your offer, than if you were just another hard sell salesperson? In fact, with this larger traffic volume, wouldn’t you make more sales than if you used a traditional selling approach?

Also, wouldn't you feel good helping more people - especially if it also increased your profits? Using reciprocity well is a win/win situation and it works.

How To

I’m not suggesting that you give away your whole product or service – only that you provide serious free value for buyers and non-buyers alike. “Free” does sell.

For example:

· On-site freebies:

o  Valuable info in your content, not just ad copy

o  Tools

o  Info packages

o  Tutorials and training videos

o  Courseware classes

o  Useful quotes, rules-of-thumb, tips and tricks

o  Links to online resources

·  Off-Site freebies:

o  Useful answers on answer sites

o  Comments with real value in forums

o  Freebies on the social sites

o  Discoveries on recommendation sites

·  And whatever else you can dream up

If you’re not already using reciprocity marketing, you really should give it a try.

_jim coe

1 Comments Add your comment
  • Reply Donald Marshall2447 days ago

    Thanks so very much Jimmy for this "so very full of highly useful guidelines," Post. Being new around here, this will certainly prove very helpful for Me.
    I'll be sure to share it to make many more aspirants benefit.

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