How to harness autonomy bias and the consistency principle to increase results

Credit: Pixabay by qimono

In part 1 of this series, we discussed how to use emotion in direct mail to drive results. In part 2 we discussed using loss aversion to drive sales. In part 3 we discussed how to use scarcity and reciprocity to increase your direct mail sales. As well as exclusivity. In part 4 we discussed social proof and storytelling behaviors to driver higher direct mail results. Now we will talk about how autonomy bias and the consistency principle can be used in direct mail to increase results. By using these human behaviors, you can gain a competitive advantage and increase sales.

So what is autonomy bias? People are driven by a strong need to exert some control over themselves and their environment. We can harness this power in direct mail by giving customers a sense of control and choice. By giving them a choice between two products or services they have the opportunity to evaluate them. Once you provide your argument and your call to action add “it’s up to you” to choose what is best for you. This will remind them that they are in control.

Keep in mind that offering too many choices will prompt them to make no choice at all. Two or three options, at the most, are the best way to use choice in direct mail.

Ways to add Autonomy Bias to your direct mail:

  • Empower them with phrases like: take control, regain control, or puts you in control
  • Ask them to choose what they want such as a free gift, level of service, type of reward, or product functionality
  • Allow customers to customize the color or design
  • Use color position and size to nudge people to decide on the option you want them to choose
  • Provide the illusion of choice by offering different colors or other specifications

There are several ways you can provide a sense of control to your customers.

Now let’s look at the consistency principle. Behavioral scientists have found that once people take an action, they like to remain consistent with it. This means that if you can get one yes, then you are more likely to get subsequent ones. You can do this by getting people to agree to a smaller request first. Then make the ask you want them to say yes to.

Ways to add consistency principle to your direct mail:

  • Invite people to take a poll or survey before you ask them to make a purchase.
  • Offer free trials
  • Offer starter kits
  • Offer a satisfaction guarantee
  • Remind people of previous purchases
  • Point out how your company, product or service is in sync with their values
  • Send reminder postcards when they have not yet completed the purchase
  • Market add on items that complement a previous purchase

Keep in mind that once people start something they have a strong urge to complete it. Use that to your advantage along with the autonomy bias and consistency principle to drive your direct mail sales. In our next article, we will discuss information gap theory and authority principle to increase direct mail results. Are you ready to get started?

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