The Reciprocity Principle

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Ever notice when you listen, you’re listened to? When you love, you’re loved? When you respect, you’re respected?

There’s an interesting psychological phenomenon — which is actually tested and proven — called the Reciprocity Principle. People feel obligation of reciprocity when they are given something. That’s why vendors give out freebies at tradeshows. Agencies claw at an opportunity to take prospects for dinner. And why adding a dollar bill to a direct mail piece draws higher response.

What are the keys for this to work? Value, for starters. The ‘gift’ must be something the recepient appreciates. Second, and more imperative, is authenticity. Ironically, if giving is without expectations, it is more likely to return in reciprocity. Interesting paradox, huh?

Perhaps the best way to achieve authenticity, then, is to truly be authentic! To actually, truly, and honestly have an internal desire to ‘give’ to clients and customers. Novel concept! Why not, as Jay Abraham states, have a ‘strategy of pre-eminence’…where it tugs at your conscious not to do what’s best for your client. How do you accomplish that? Fortunately, it’s a choice more than a skill. The key: do the act and the attitude will follow.

Finding what to give of value then becomes much easier…because you care and listen. From that, you discover what the recepient needs or wants. When given, since they know you cared, listened, and met a need from their position, they may be more likely to reciprocate. Even if it’s something simple like a book recommendation or article. The trick is, as stated above, you can’t expect something in return. You just do what any human being would do to help another. Vice versa may occur.

A very wise consultant once revealed his number one secret to lasting client relationships: People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

2 Responses

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  2. I was just curious if it had a bad influence on your rank, becourse I was inspired by your contest to make simular initiatives, but hesitated doing so, after reading the article that Sameer linked to.

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