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Pre-suasion focuses on the best way to direct the attention of the consumer towards a company. The author has created a model that can be adopted by smart and savvy business executives, no matter what industry they come from. Pre-suasion focuses on when to influence people, which, the author believes, is before people notice they are being influenced. Capture their attention in a casual manner, and then slowly direct their response to the goal of the campaign. Cialdini's insight in Pre-suasion is that simply asking a question in the right way can put customers in the right frame of mind to buy your product, even before they have realized they need the said product.


The average consumer is bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages a day, and the challenge has always been how to break through that cluttered landscape of information and be the answer to what they are looking for. Pre-suasion is best described as the way to capture and channel the consumer's attention to the end goal. In other words, find a way to climb inside of a person's mind and capture their attention like never before. The author has created a list of 6 attention-grabbing strategies that will help anyone meet that goal. The list includes:

How to use sexual

Sex sells, but only when the product is related to sexuality (perfume, birth control products, lingerie, etc.). No doubt that sexual stimuli have a persuasive power to command the attention of the average person. But use the sexual approach carefully.

How to use threatening

These days it is hard to argue most consumers are concerned with their own safety and the safety of ones they care about. Research performed by the author concluded that even the perception of a threat opens the mind of a person and they can be persuaded to act in such a manner that they feel is good for their safety. For example, black label warnings in tobacco packaging have been shown to be pre-suasively effective.

How to use the different

Studies have shown that when something is different, or even just perceived as being different, it gathers attention. Channeled properly, using "The Different" attributes of a new product can create a pre-suasive appeal.. But being "different" is not as simple as it sounds. Each market sector must examine what works best in their industry, and when they find it, do not be afraid to use it.

How to use the self-relevant

For the average consumer, their attention is most likely focused on information about them or information that is relevant to them. For example, in personal health, a message that is self-relevant is more likely to capture someone's attention and interest. When that happens, people are more apt to act upon something and make a decision.

How to use the unfinished

Some years ago researchers concluded that a person's attention and memory shuts down once a problem has been solved, or an action has been completed. So the idea is to learn how to use "the unfinished" as a way to garner attention to the product or service that is being offered. People crave cognitive closure when presented with a dilemma, so learn how to use that as an advantage over any competitors.

How to use the mysterious

For centuries, mysteries have intrigued and captivated audiences around the world. A good mystery writer learns how to craft a novel in such a way that keeps the reader turning the pages and wanting to read more. Create a mystery, and people will respond. The business world works the same way.

Case study: religious cult recruiters

The author also stresses the importance of asking a question in the proper manner which can ultimately influence customers to make a purchase. His example comes from a surprising group: religious cult recruiters. As they are taught to recruit new members, they will most likely ask someone "are you unhappy?" rather than "are you happy?" The cult recruiters do this because they understand that by "priming" the question with the issue of a person being "unhappy," they stand a higher chance of that person focusing on the negatives things in their life. In other words, what makes them feel bad, and how can the cult make them feel happier?

This information can have powerful implications on the way businesses conduct their surveys. For example, the same question posed to a consumer could result in two different answers and can mean the difference between a sale and a rejection. If a software company asks the question, "Are you satisfied with your current computer software and solutions?" That may result in a "yes, I am" type of answer. However, when the question is rephrased as "Are you dissatisfied with your current computer software and solutions?" or "are there problems with the software in place?" the answers can be totally different.


Pre-suasion offers the reader the tools and mindset to change the course of a company and steer it from just getting by, to thriving like never before. It takes discipline and being open to new ideas.