What is the Law of Reciprocity?
When someone does something for us, we often feel obligated to reciprocate by doing something in return for them.
The Law of Reciprocity is simple and powerful.
You’ve likely experienced this in your personal life. For instance, when you pick up the tab at lunch for a friend, chances are they’ll pick up the tab the next time you go out. That feeling of obligation is a combination of social norms (most people will offer to pay next time, if you treated this time), and a simple desire to return a kindness.
The Law of Reciprocity extends beyond personal relationships to donations, business opportunities, and sales situations. When you take the time to understand this principle, you can put it to work for your business.
12 Ways to Increase Business Using the Law of Reciprocity
- Post about your experience with another business on social media. Tag them, and tell your audience how much you enjoyed their service or product.
- Offer coffee or ice water when potential customers enter your business.
- Give out swag to incentivize purchases.
- Offer free samples. People often feel obligated to buy after receiving a sample.
- Introduce someone as an expert in their industry and build them up as such. They’ll likely return the favor by referring people to your business.
- Give others the benefit of the doubt, and the favor will be returned to you.
- Allow for a liberal exchange policy. People will value your product knowing you value them as customers.
- Act extremely appreciative of peoples’ purchases. Not only does it make people feel good when you appreciate them, but they’re likely to buy again in the future because you show such appreciation for it.
- Offer free classes on how to use your products. Customers may buy an upgrade if they know you’re always there to support it and help them.
- Provide advice even if it doesn’t always benefit you. If you’re honest about a competing solution being a better one for them, they may not buy from you at that point — but they’ll remember your honesty and look to buy from you (or recommend you) in the future. You build trust when people know you’re straight with them, even though it could cost you the sale.
- Offer something for free if they buy today. Buying is often an emotional action. Usually, the Law of Reciprocity requires you to do something for them first before they’ll do something for you. But sometimes the offer to do something is enough to incentivize the sale.
- Host a free night of fun at your business as a thank you for your loyal customers. They’ll feel obligated to buy something as long as you don’t present the free night of fun as an infomercial for your product. Don’t be salesy — just offer light refreshments and some fun.
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