Apparently the home shopping channels are so confident about their abilities to persuade us to buy anything they’re selling that they’re willing to openly share their tactics on the Today Show. The two main methods that they discuss in the clip below are convincing people that they’ll be “special” if they buy something because it’s “new” or “exclusive,” and creating a sense of urgency about a purchase because supplies are supposedly limited or the offer is only good for a certain amount of time. That’s why you’ll usually see onscreen clocks counting down how much time is remaining on each “offer” and a display indicating how many items are left to buy while the presenters laud the latest Hummel figure or hair accessory.
Not every persuasion tactic is appropriate for every presentation, but there are valuable methods that presenters can borrow from home shopping and the world of sales in general. Creating a sense of urgency can help close a sale, but it can also encourage people to act on an important issue– think of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and his argument that we need to do something about global warming immediately.
In a similar vein, promoting exclusivity can make people feel as if they need to buy something now because it will be their only chance, but it can also be used to develop a sense of trust and intimacy. Many people follow certain shows on these channels and buy from specific presenters because they’re familiar with them and even start to think of them as their friends. Any audience is much more likely to be persuaded by a presenter that they like, trust, and see as someone with similar values as themselves. That’s a lesson that you can use in almost any presentation.
Besides for the fact that they bring in billions of dollars each year, I can tell you firsthand that whatever these companies are doing works. My mother’s presents to our family almost invariably come from the home shopping channels and the cardboard boxes labeled “HSN” and “QVC” pile up in small mountains in my parents’ garage….
We’ll look at other specific persuasion tactics as this blog continues.