Reciprocity – What Is It And How Does It Influence Marketing?

Reciprocity. Big word, isn’t it? It’s even difficult to say!

Now, if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you’ll know I’m all about straight talking and keeping it simple. Reciprocity may be a big word, but it’s a pretty simple concept, and it could be helping you make money. It can be super useful when it comes to the marketing world. So here goes…

What is Reciprocity?

In its simplest form, reciprocity is the exchange of something with others to gain a mutual benefit. But it is the psychology behind reciprocity that we’re really interested in…

It has been studied and recognised that people feel obliged to repay acts of goodwill. If somebody helps us or gives us something, we, as a human race, are compelled to offer something back in return.

This is known as the norm of reciprocity. And it can be a really helpful tool in marketing…

How Does It Look In Marketing?

Marketing is a form of psychology. For it to work, we have to try and understand human behaviour and work out how we can convince customers to purchase a product or service.

If you imagine each of your readers as a love jar, the fuller the jar, the happier they are in your relationship. The happier they are in your relationship, the more willing they are to purchase from you.

Offering something for free before a customer has even purchased from you is a great way to add to the love jar. It could be something like a free trial, or it could be sharing useful information, or entertaining them.

All of these will help fill the love jar so that when it comes to asking the reader for something, there should be plenty of love there already. This is important as when you ask the reader to do something, some of the love will be taken out of the jar. If you start with an empty love jar, you have no lea way to ask for anything from your potential customer.

This is where reciprocity comes in. On top of helping to fill the love jar, if you can offer your readers something for free before they have even purchased anything, the norm of reciprocity would suggest that they would then feel obliged to do something in return. That something preferably being buying your product or service.

We’ve all seen campaigns by online services and apps which offer free trials for 30 days with no commitments. This is a perfect example of using reciprocity in marketing. By offering a free trial, the company is hoping that by the time the 30-day trial is up, the potential customer will feel obligated to buy the service at full cost.

What Should You Offer?

The most important thing is to offer something of value to your readers. Offering something cheap and easy, even if it’s free, is not going to have the desired effect. You want your readers to remember you as an honest, knowledgeable company. So that if one day they are looking for a product you provide, they will come to you. They’re not going to remember some cheap piece of tat and think, ‘Ooh, I’ll go and shop there!’.

An effective way of providing value to a reader is through blogs. If you are providing the reader with helpful information on a topic related to a product or giving them an insight into what products are available on the market to help them choose, that’s valuable information that they didn’t have before.

Another tactic is to offer free guides. This is a simple method that allows you to showcase your expertise on a subject. It can help to convince the reader that if or when they are ready to make a purchase, you are the best company for them.

You can also impart this wisdom through an e-mail campaign, gradually feeding potential customers with helpful tips or entertaining them so that they look forward to your e-mails each week. As long as whatever content you are providing is valuable, the reader should remember you when it comes to the time to purchase.

Build On Your Client Relationships

It is through these campaigns and nurturing the reader that you can begin to build up a relationship and trust with the potential client. If you are consistently providing valuable knowledge rather than pestering them with your latest offers and products, you are making your brand and company more memorable.

You can also continue to develop this relationship even once a reader has taken the step of buying from you. By simply adding a personal note to an e-mail or following up on a purchase, the customer will feel like you genuinely care rather than that you are just out for the sale.

The Results

Using the rules of reciprocity in marketing can have huge benefits for your company. Taking the time to decide on what you can offer for free in terms of knowledge and value, without any expectations, will help to entice customers in. Whether that be because of the social norm to feel obligated to return the favour, or simply because the information you’ve provided has been so valuable that you have made your brand more memorable, the outcome is the same. More customers and more sales.

If you want to find out further ways to build on this relationship and guide your customers towards higher-value purchases, check out my previous blog here.

Reciprocity is a great trick to help you make more money. This blog should have provided you with some valuable information on how and where to use it, and hopefully, you’ll remember who introduced you to the concept if you need any help in the future!

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