Pre-suasion – 8 Takeaways to Get Your Way

1 July 2018


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pre-suasion cover

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini

Pre-suasion is about giving you the tools to persuade your customers ethically before you even lead them into the sale. This book is also for customers so that they can realize when they’re being sold to unethically.


There are. Of course the 6 principles of persuasion originally published in Cialdini’s first book, Influence, plus an additional 7th principle he adds in this book. Regardless, having this pre-suasion skill is an essential skill and worth studying for future successes. If you know how to say it then you’re that much closer to being able to sell it. I’ll cover briefly over the 8 takeaways I got from this book. If you’d like to buy a copy of the book there’s a link to Amazon at the bottom of this post.


Pre-suasion Takeaway 1: Privileged Moments


What we present first changes the way people experience what we present to them next.


Privileged moments can be extremely useful tools for people who sell or market their products or services. They also can be unethical if they are used slyly. Privileged moments are used to alter a person’s decision dramatically before the person has even made a decision.


For example,

if I were to ask you to think about all the times you were unhappy or angry at work you would then go reaching back in your memory for all the moments you felt that way. You’d likely come up with several occasions.


If this were a survey the results may come out skewed. But If I were to ask a two-sided question such as ‘How satisfied or dissatisfied are you at work?’ the answers will not have a bias to either side. A two-sided question lets you answer with your feelings.


In another study, taking, for example, imagine walking into a wine shop. The walls are filled with fake grape vines, bottles from many different vintages covering every corner, and smooth traditional French music playing in the background.


The customer shops around and tastes a few wines on display. Each taste tester has its own unique flavor. All are delicious. After thirty minutes of trying to decide which wine to take home, the customer ends up picking a wine from France.


Is it a coincidence? There was French music playing and the customer ends up choosing a wine from France. According to the study, this is a pre-suasion technique. When you surround your customers with what you want them to focus on you’ll more likely influence them to buy what you want them to buy. Maybe the French wine happened to be more expensive?


Pre-suasion Takeaway 2: Attention


Anything that draws focused attention to itself can lead observers to overestimate its importance.


pre-suasion attention

The news networks are great at drawing attention to certain topics, however, are not so good at always convincing people to believe the way they present the news. It’s quite scary that the news agencies have so much power over what news they choose to present since the amount of something shown makes a huge difference in how that ‘something’ is perceived.


Taking, for example,

People (young and old) use guns to shoot and kills others. In the last few decades, there’s been a huge increase in incidents like these. The media jumped all over the opportunity to get these tragic events on TV, newspapers, and the internet. Grief struck the nation. People kept on seeing the same scenes over and over again on the TV just like when 9/11 happened.


Then the next person came along a year or two later with the same idea in his or her mind. ‘Why don’t I just take this gun to my school and kill some people, then kill myself. My life is never going to get better. My father beats me every day and my mother doesn’t do anything about it. Tomorrow I’m going to blow these kids’ brains out just like that other kid did a few years ago. He did it, so why can’t I?’ Now, how did this person even get the idea in their mind in the first place? Too much exposure.


After reading this book as well as The Tipping Point I firmly believe the more something is present in the media, in our world, around our neighborhoods, or in our homes the more likely that ‘something’ will happen again and again. It doesn’t have to be a negative ‘something’ though. It could be a positive thing, for example, I bring a physical book with me almost everywhere I go. Sometimes people ask about it. Other times people stare at the book without saying a word. The point is I’m trying to get more people interested in reading. By bringing a book I make books the focal point.


Related Post: The Tipping Point


Pre-suasion Takeaway 3: Commanders of Attention 1


People are dramatically more likely to pay attention to and be influenced by stimuli that fit the goal they have for that situation.



Since the beginning of existence, we have always been drawn to two particular aspects of human and animal nature. Sex and violence. But when using something like this in business you’ve got to do it in a way that makes sense. If you use sex to sell a product it’ll only work for something that is frequently used for attracting sex like perfume or deodorant. You wouldn’t want to use this technique to sell a stapler. It just wouldn’t make sense.



Then take violence or threatening situations. Think about those commercials you always see on TV with the nasty threatening germs dying to infect you. Then the hero comes in (the disinfectant cleaner product) and kills all those nasty threatening germs. At first, your attention is attracted to ‘the nasty threatening germs’ then you get sold on the product because you wouldn’t want those things running around your house would you?



Whenever we first register a change around us, our attention flies to it. A great tool for a marketer would be to change scenes in the middle of your filming for a new promotional video for your product or service. By changing angles or even the whole scene you keep your audience’s attention. Any sort of sound, lighting, or visual object will draw the attention of those you are trying to reach.


Pre-suasion Takeaway 4: Commanders of Attention 2


Information about oneself is an extremely powerful magnet for attention.


The quote above says it all. It’s why it’s so important when collecting your email lists to also collect the name of your subscribers. Same goes if you run a membership at your store. The more information you have about your customers the better if you use it ethically.


I highly recommend reading ‘The Power of Habit’ which goes into depth about the buying habits of customers even more so than this book does. I’ve written a useful review which gives you helpful insights on the topic. The link is below if you’re interested.


I think the major factor here is that you are trying your hardest in a natural way to connect with your customers. Another tip I highly appreciated was the use of the word you or your. As a content marketer, this word comes in very handy. When you write your articles or speak to your audiences be conscious about using the word ‘you’.


Even if you don’t know your audience they will feel more comfortable if you use the word ‘you’.


Related Post: The Power of Habit


The Unfinished

When an important outcome is unknown to people they will hardly be able to think about anything else. Think about when you’re in the middle of a book or writing a blog post then get interrupted. All you really want to do is get back to where you left off. You get this unpleasant nagging feeling.


How can you use this to your advantage in pre-suasion techniques? One way is for a writer to actually find a stopping point in the middle of a thought. Know exactly what you are going to write next but don’t write it down until the next time you sit down in front of your desk. When you do this, your flow of writing will come much quicker.


How can you use this on customers? One way would be to have a cliffhanger in your commercial or movie for that matter. When you keep your customers guessing they will want to find the answer. They will die to find the answer. That’s why most movies with cliffhangers are some of the best movies that people talk about for decades.


The Mystery Story

Using stories. I’ve written and read about this on several occasions and it seems to be a thread which connects all things together. Stories are what we are made of. Stories are who we are. By including an engaging story with facts, examples, and explanations into any type of work you do you attract your audience’s attention. The more engaging and emotional the story is, the more attention it will get.


There are books about storytelling, such as The Storyteller’s Secret, which go into further depth than this one. If you like this topic, I recommend reading my review of the book mentioned above. In fact, I don’t just recommend reading my review, I think it’s an essential read for anyone.


Related Post: The Storyteller’s Secret


Pre-suasion Takeaway 5: Choice of Words

pre-suasion words

The main purpose of speech is to direct listeners’ attention to a selected sector of reality. Once that is accomplished, the listeners’ existing associations to the now-spotlighted sector will take over to determine the reaction.


As I’ve read in such books like Second Chance or Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki words are extremely powerful. The choice of words you choose could lead someone down a different path entirely just like when you ask them a one-sided question. It is your advantage to link words to targeted thoughts. You can also use words along with pictures to positively influence your employees at work to do better by posting these things around the walls.


Using metaphors can also be another great tool to make something complex easy to understand. Pre-suasion and The Storyteller’s Secret also mention this technique.


Language has always been humanity’s unique way of communication. It’s also always been our unique way of persuading others to go along with our opinions. So use positive words in your marketing efforts as much as possible. For example, one that I thought was cheesy at first instead of using the word ‘cost’ or ‘price’ on your ticket sales uses the word ‘investment’ or ‘purchase’.


One last use of language in this book is using language to fit the group or culture of the person/people you’re talking with. Taking, for example, I live in Indonesia where elders are considered as respected individuals. It doesn’t matter where the elder comes from if you are much younger you must use the word ‘Pak’ (sir) or ‘Bu’ (mam) no matter whether you know or are close with this person or not. Speaking respectfully with elders is a must in Indonesian culture no matter what the situation is.


Pre-suasion Takeaway 6: Location

Simply put, the location the pre-suasion attempt is happening in effects the result or the outcome. Taking for example, when Cialdini was writing his first book, Influence, at first he was writing it at his office then he took it home and read it. There was something totally wrong with the way it was written. It was meant for the general public but read like a scientific paper. He ended up having to rewrite everything, this time doing it at his desk at home facing the busy pedestrian street where he saw normal everyday people.


The results? It read much more casually. The location that Cialdini wrote his book had an effect on the words and structure he chose to put it in. You can also pre-suade yourself mentally by thinking positive thoughts you will live a happier more fulfilling life.


Pre-suasion Takeaway 7: Habit

I was pleasantly pleased to see some occurring themes between Pre-suasion and The Power of Habit. In this example, it’s what The Power of Habit calls the trigger/cue, routine, and reward. Pre-suasion calls it ‘If/When-Then Plans’ for example ‘When it is eight in the morning, and I finish brushing my teeth, then I will take my prescribed pill dose.’.


By creating this intention to complete something you highly increase your chances of doing it.


Note: The Original 6 Principles of Persuasion

The 6 Principles of Persuasion are briefly covered in their own chapter which includes:

  1. Reciprocation
  2. Liking
  3. Social Proof
  4. Authority
  5. Scarcity
  6. Consistency

If you want to read more about these, check this link out or just invest in either Influence or Pre-suasion.


Pre-suasion Takeaway 8: The 7th Principle: Being Together

pre-suasion being together

There is a strong feeling that comes to you when you are with others whether they are your family, friends, community, religion, morals, beliefs or people from the same culture if you’re living in one that is not your own. Unity is one of the strongest types of pre-suasion there can be since it’s what binds us together as humans.


I can personally vouch that this is the case since I’m a foreigner living in Indonesia. I’m drawn to people who are more similar to me than the locals here. Not saying I don’t get along with locals, I just have more of a connection with people who come from the same place as me.


Unity can be used in teamwork as well. Build a culture of your own. Work toward a common goal. Make sure that goal is clear to each and every employee even to the point of hiring someone based on whether they agree with the team goal. Being together is a great addition to the original 6 principles of persuasion.


Final Thoughts About Pre-suasion

During my first reading of Pre-suasion I thought the takeaways were quite jumbled and filled with unnecessary words and examples. It would be more useful when if given a second or third reading. I personally prefer a book to be more precise and only elaborate when needed. I picture Cialdini as a guy who loves to talk a lot. That is his style, but I much prefer reading/listening to someone like Steve Jobs who speaks with clarity.


The takeaways stood out much more when rereading some of the parts to write my review. It still took me a while to pull out what I thought would be useful for you who are reading this post now because of the way the book is structured. I would have liked to see more headings or shorter paragraphs. Cialdini’s writing style is too wordy.


However, even though I complain about the writing, I still think the topic of this book is very beneficial for anyone in the business field.


If you’re interested in adding this book to your library buy the book from the Amazon link below. By doing so, you’ll also be supporting the continuation of this website.


I recently made a list of essential books everyone should read. Check the list down below and buy one to add to your collection.

 Best Books to Buy for Business

Always remember to share what you’ve learned with the people you care most about.


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