I generally never stop and speak to anyone in the street unless I know them or they really grab my attention, however today is different. Today is Friday, the end of the week.
Snow Leopards and text messages
On walking down Buchanan Street I had already said no to at least one charity worker who tried to stop me in my tracks, but nearing the end of the street I was caught off guard and this friendly man shouted over
“You there stop! I don’t want any of your details!”
Needless to say, I didn’t stop, I knew he was a charity worker and I just continued walking, so he proceeded to follow me.
He preceded to walk alongside me and told me that there are approximately 300 endangered Nepalese Snow Leopards in the wild today and could I please text a number to donate £2 to save them.
Now I didn’t know the first thing about Snow leopards up until now but I’m an animal lover so this appealed to my better nature and I was in a relatively good mood because it’s the end of the week.
So without really thinking of the consequences I asked a few more questions about the cause, took the phone from my pocket and donated £2 via text. He said I would receive a thank you reply with a link to share with my friends along with a phone call from the WWF to follow up and thank me for my donation. We then promptly shook hands and bid each other a good day.
Back at the office
On my way back to the office I thought about what had just happened. I’d contributed money to a cause without actually parting with a physical form of cash, I’d also volunteered my phone number so the charity could phone me later and more importantly I’ve initially committed to help save the Snow Leopards.
Commitment and Consistency
In Professor Robert Cialdini book ‘Influence’, Commitment and Consistency is heavily documented both in science and practice as an influencing tool.
So you’re probably thinking what’s that got to do with your story above. Well let me tell you.
The purpose of the £2 is not the profit or donation in this case, it is the commitment.
So today I have committed to protecting the Snow Leopards and the door is now wide open for the WWF to increase my commitment and consistency by building on the initial 3 minute face to face contact and text. This is called the foot in the door technique and most of us have been subjected to it at some point or another in our lives.
When you make an initial commitment, such as taking a stand or position, you are more willing to agree to requests that are consistent with your prior commitment. So for example if you donate £2 to charity you are more likely to donate again to charity if asked to do so in future.
Cialdini’s research demonstrates that small commitments can manipulate a person’s self-image, turning donations into volunteering, browsing into buying and scarily citizens into public servants.
So what could happen next?
Well I will no doubt receive a phone call as promised from the WWF thanking me for my donation and they will try and obtain some further contact details from me so they can either send me direct mail or emails further down the line. They will also try and commit me to sign up to sponsor a snow leopard for £X per month.
If they are smart they will try and build further commitment and consistency by following up through a series of phone calls.
I’ll keep you updated and in the meantime if you can think of an experience when you have been subjected to a commitment and consistency pattern please leave a comment below.