How to Use Mental Triggers for Mass Influence

Reading Time: 13 Minutes

Table of Contents

In his book Launch, Jeff Walker breaks down 9 “mental triggers” that will help you achieve mass influence. These triggers are:

In this article, we’ll break down each of Jeff’s 9 mental triggers. Then we’ll take a look at 3 additional triggers supported by recent research, business news, and client results. These include:


The fastest route to mass influence is to build authority in your field. When people see you as an expert, they’re far more inclined to trust your advice.

Share your accomplishments.

The key to building authority without bragging is to share your accomplishments in a way that helps your clients. If your company appeared on TV, share the news segment and tell your audience what they can learn from the segment. If you won a major court case for a client, share the news of the award you won and let your followers know how you can help them win a similar case.

As a rule of thumb, consider sharing an accomplishment at least once a month on social media and in your email marketing. When people first subscribe to your email list, if you send them a welcome sequence, include at least 3 accomplishments in your welcome emails.


When you give people more upfront, they’ll feel more inclined to buy from you.

Robert Cialdini popularized the concept of reciprocity in his 1984 bestseller Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. According to Cialdini, you can leverage the principle by offering free trials, free samples, and free consultations.

More than 30 years later, the reciprocity principle still works, but it’s been used a lot. Customers are aware of how companies use it, so they’re less likely to trust or accept free offers. Today many people won’t accept a free trial because they don’t want to get hooked. They decline free samples because they don’t want to feel obligated. And they don’t accept free consultations because they don’t want to listen to a sales pitch.

So what can you do?

Use social media and email marketing.

Social media and email marketing are excellent channels for giving to your customers long before you ask for a sale. People aren’t so defensive about accepting value from you online. They figure that if you become overly promotional, they can simply unfollow you.

When you use social media effectively, you’ll be one of the first companies your followers think to buy from. In many cases, people may not even bother shopping with your competitors. It’s also important to leverage different platforms, from social media to even WhatsApp Business Platform.

In his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the importance of giving value constantly before you promote a sale. He recommends a ratio of at least 20 “value” messaged to 1 “promotion” message.

To give “value,” try these social media techniques.

  • Inspire people. Share motivational or relatable quotes and memes. There are a lot of these on social media because they work. (And they’re easy to share!)
  • Ask provocative questions. Some people will reply and others will just read the comments. Either way, you’ll see engagement.
  • Show behind the scenes. People enjoy seeing what other people do.
  • Offer suggestions. Look through commonly asked questions, then answer them publicly.
  • Invite people to special events. Who doesn’t love a cool event, even if you can only read about it?
  • Give sneak peeks. Let people know about a new item on your menu or new product that you worked hard creating. Don’t be afraid to describe the effort that went into it.
  • Share industry news. People likely follow you because they’re interested in your industry. So go ahead and handpick some stories you think could be relevant to your customers.
  • Share local photos. People enjoy seeing pictures from their hometown. So post some shots, even if they’re just of people enjoying a meal at your restaurant or exercising at your gym.
  • Send fans gifts. Post free tutorials and guides to help people accomplish their personal or professional goals.
  • Feature your fans. Show how people are enjoying your products or using them to achieve business objectives.
  • Interview interesting people. You can interview industry leaders, social media celebrities, or people of local interest. People love listening to interesting conversation.
  • Organize giveaways. Engage with your community and give them the chance to win custom swag boxes.

Test and see what works for you.

If you have modest goals, you don’t have to do all of these. Test a variety and see what resonates with your customers. Then pick a few that are practical for you to do on an ongoing basis.

If you want to build mass influence, you’ll need to go a step further. You can’t simply do what “everyone else” is doing. You’ll want to find a type of unique, valuable content that people can only get from you. Perhaps people respond to your voice on a podcast, your advice on Facebook live videos, your questions in a video interview series, your informative animations in a video series, or your thoughtful Instagram posts? When you find a unique content niche, people can only get this content by following you.

(Please keep in mind that being local will set you apart. So if you’re operating a small business, you don’t have to be the best in the world. You just have to be the best in your city or neighborhood.)

Don’t worry about giving away too much.

Many of us are information workers, so it’s easy for us to be concerned that if we share too much online, people just won’t need to buy from us.

In most cases, the opposite is true. When you share an abundance of information, people will trust you as the expert. Even if they follow you constantly, they’ll want you to be their advisor, instructor, representative, or service provider because they believe you will be more effective than anyone else.

Build relationships and people will trust you when they need your help.


Trust is a little different from authority. Authority is about what you know. (Do customers believe you know what you’re talking about?) Trust is about whether you’re honest enough to share candid advice and deliver on your promises. (Do customers believe you’re willing to share what you know?)

Time is your friend.

You need to be willing to deliver value to your audience over the long term. This is true whether you use social media, email or phone calls to stay in touch with your leads.

Once someone becomes a customer, you also need to provide a great product or service, and you need to deliver fantastic customer support.

To build trust, follow these steps.

  • Repeat your key messages in email and social media.
  • Respond to customer comments, messages, and reviews. Invite customers to contact you by phone, private message, or email so you can resolve any issues.
  • Optimize your content. Make sure your articles and videos are thorough, well researched, and actionable. Link to sources outside your company, and reach out to other websites to ask them to link back to your articles. (To learn more about SEO, watch the video below from SEO link builder Julian Goldie.)
  • Sprinkle humor and entertainment into your online marketing. (Don’t be boring!)
  • Practice social responsibility and let people know about the impact your company makes in your community.
  • Show integrity even if it means turning down business.


Ideally your company will have a few events during the course of the year that your customers can look forward to. These might be product launches, product refreshes, social events, educational events, or sales events.

Talk up your events.

When you post on social media, try referring to your product or event as “long-awaited” or “highly requested.” This depends somewhat on your brand, but most companies can benefit from using language that builds curiosity and excitement.

If you’re publishing an email sequence to your email subscribers, let people know what they can expect from your next email. This gives your subscribers something to look forward to.

Set expectations.

As the date of your event draws closer, announce the date and tell people what they’ll be able to do at the event. If the event is an online launch, tell people what they’ll be able to buy on launch date and let them know about any bonuses they can snag if they purchase that day.


By nature of their delivery method, digital communications can already feel impersonal or automated. It’s up to you to use a voice that brings warmth and personality back to your communications.

Use a personal and friendly voice.

Think of how you would speak to a friend in real life, and use the same language in your business communications. Use words like “you,” “me” and “we.” These are great for avoiding the awkward third-person corporate voice that people often tune out.

Remember, you don’t have to be overly serious or formal in order to be credible. In fact, people are more likely to trust you if you talk like they do. Today, even large corporations like Apple are not afraid to tell a joke or be irreverent. Concise social media posts and short email messages lend themselves to a personal communication style.

If you have a personal brand, consider developing an “attractive character” complete with a backstory, relatable character flaws, and polarizing views that people will love or hate.

People are growing tired of impersonal corporations and increasingly attracted to personal brands that feel like friends. For small and medium-sized businesses, developing a brand character is a fantastic way to increase people’s engagement with your social media posts (in turn, causing social media companies to show your posts more frequently to more people) and increase your email marketing open rate.

Engage with people.

Engagement is extremely important to customers. When you receive a positive comment, you can simply reply with “Thanks!”, “Thank you so much!”, “That means the world to us!”, or “We appreciate your support!” If a customer writes about a specific topic, you can refer to it in your response to make your message feel less robotic.

If you receive a negative comment, a good rule of thumb is to invite the person who commented to private message you so that you can help them.

Vionic Shoes set a good example of how you can empathize and help a customer with a product issue:

“Oh no! We’re so sorry to hear about this but appreciate you letting us know. Please know that this is not the norm and we are happy to help. Please contact our customer care team for assistance at”

Meanwhile, Safeway exemplified how you can respond to a customer service issue:

“Thanks for making us aware of the inefficiency you encountered. The Store Director will be notified to focus on improving here.”

Events and Rituals

Deeply rooted in human psychology is a craving for events and rituals and the sense of connection they bring. You can utilize this in your marketing by building an event around your product or incorporating ritual elements into your campaigns.

Create an event.

Michael Hyatt created a live event for his “Free to Focus” program. Instead of just delivering an online course, he hosted a live event, filmed it, and sold streaming rights to companies. Because the event was broadcast live, many people listened to his program in full and learned more as a result. This move gave Michael a dramatic advantage over other online course creators who often suffer from  low course completion rates.

Build rituals into your marketing.

Often influencers publish their podcast, video, or article on a specific day of the week. Sometimes they even use a name that references this day so that their audience knows they can look forward to it. For example, Tim Ferris publishes an email newsletter called “5-Bullet Friday.”

Incorporate rituals into your branding.

Rituals can become deeply associated with your brand. Famous examples include the Oreo twist, lick and dunk; the Jeep wave; and the iPhone launch queue.

Make your rituals fun and unique and your fans will latch onto them.


People are influenced by others within their community. When someone sees others engaging with you, they’re more likely to engage with you.

Leverage the community principle online and offline.

  • Make your consultations public. To do this, invite your followers to privately message you if they would like a free critique, audit, or 1-on-1 consultation. When someone agrees, Gary Vaynerchuk suggests asking them: “I’m giving you this free consultation. I’m filming it for my Facebook because I feel very comfortable with what I’m going to say. Is that ok with you?” (If someone says it’s not ok, just answer, “No problem. We won’t film.”)
  • Spend an hour answering questions. A great way to do this is to run an Ask-Me-Anything on Facebook Live.
  • Visit live mixers and meetups. You can also host events at your own headquarters.
  • Start discussions on LinkedIn. Share your thoughts on a topic and ask others for their opinions. You can share your ideas through an article, video, or SlideShare presentation and see what medium attracts the most engagement from people in your LinkedIn community.
  • Create an online group. You can create a Facebook group or LinkedIn group where your clients or users can network directly with you and others in a private setting.


Putting a deadline on your customers is one of the fastest ways to nudge them to make a decision.

There are many ways you can create scarcity to drive sales.

  • Run a holiday sale, clearance sale, or flash sale. You can offer a 40% discount on a selection of products or offer free shipping for a limited time. If you can group complimentary products together, you can also run a flash sale on a bundled offer.
  • Offer a deal exclusively to customers who sign up to be VIP members. JustFab, a shoe subscription business, offers customers an outstanding deal on their first pair of shoes to entice them to join their VIP club.
  • Add a “Running low on stock” or “only ___ left” label to encourage people to buy your product before anyone else. Fashion companies also use tools to automatically make certain sizes and colors temporarily unavailable so that when they become “available” again, people hurriedly buy the products they want.
  • Offer products for a few weeks or a season before removing them from sale. Companies that produce online courses do this all the time to encourage those who want to learn a new skill to commit to buying.
  • Produce limited batches or create an exclusive collection. If you’re selling a service, you can limit the number of attendees, students, or clients you serve. These approaches turn scarcity into a benefit for buyers.
  • Add a countdown timer to your marketing emails and your website.

When you use scarcity tactics like these, it’s not uncommon for sales of a product to temporarily skyrocket. Even products with lackluster sales can start flying off the shelves once customers feel an urgency to buy.

Social Proof

Social proof occurs when people can look around them and see that other people like them are buying your product.

Three of the best ways to create social proof are with reviews, video testimonials, and case studies.

Collect reviews.

On your website, include a prominent link where people can click to review your business on Google. You can do the same with any other online account that you want to target, like Yelp or Facebook.

After you have several reviews, link to them from your website so people can read what others are saying about your business.

Create video testimonials.

Ask your customers if you can film them while you ask a few questions about their experience. Let them know that their review will help other people like them decide whether your product or service is best for them. Often people want to give back by helping others who they can relate to.

You can film testimonials like this with a smartphone while your customers are onsite. If your customers are going to send videos from offsite, it’s best to provide them with short filming pointers to improve the quality of their videos.

When you record a testimonial, ask questions to learn about what issue the customer came to you for, how your product or service has worked for them to solve that issue, and how they feel about their results.

After you get a video testimonial, put it up on your YouTube channel, link to it on your website (possibly on your homepage), and publish it directly on social media.

Develop case studies.

Online case studies are usually posts collected in a section of your website. Often they’re 5-10 paragraphs each. They tell stories that show how your customers benefited from your products or services. The more transformative the story, the better!

Good case studies include a few direct quotes from your customers, some pictures (ideally showing a “before” and “after” state), and relevant numbers to illustrate the results you helped your customers achieve. For more information on how to write a great case study, check out HubSpots’s useful guide.

It’s a great idea to share your case study on social media and in a marketing email dedicated specifically to sharing your customer’s story. You can share a quick recap and link out to the full case study for people who want to hear the whole story. If you write an email welcome sequence, definitely include a few case studies in your messages. It’s one of the best ways to engage a new lead.

You can use other types of social proof.

Of course there are other forms of social proof that might be worthwhile for you. We just think these three types will deliver the best results for most businesses.

Because these assets last “forever” (which we’ll loosely define as several years on the Internet), the small investment you make into acquiring them should pay off handsomely with the many new customers they attract to your company.


People judge brands on design.

Work with designers.

If you have a physical location, work with a designer to create an office or store design that appeals to your target customers and speaks to your brand values.

To make a good first impression in your marketing materials, create and follow a brand style guide. This will help your designers use your logo correctly and give your content a consistent visual voice.

When you build a website, invest in quality design. Most people form an opinion of a website in less than a second, and most people won’t recommend a business if it has a poorly designed website. To make a great site, you can either use the excellent do-it-yourself web builder Squarespace, or hire a professional web designer to build a higher-end WordPress site.

Use visuals on social media.

To increase engagement on social media, include photos, GIFs, or graphics with any post you make. You’ll get more likes comments, and shares, and social media networks like Facebook will show your posts to more users.

In general, whenever you can make something visual, you’ll increase the number of people who see your offer and respond to it. People remember infographics and presentations better than plain text, and people consistently express a preference for learning from short, highly visual content. Given this, consider creating infographics, SlideShare presentations, or Pinterest boards to reach more customers.

For more ideas on visual content you can create to promote your products and services, check out Susan Gilbert’s blog post “12 Ways to Create Eye-Catching Visual Content People Can’t Help Sharing.”


Have you ever felt sucked into a research rabbit hole? You probably felt what Carnegie Mellon professor George Loewenstein calls “the information gap.”

When your customers care about a subject and they notice a gap in their understanding, they’re going to feel compelled to fill this gap.

Invoke curiosity to ensure people see your messages.

To create mass influence, you need people to see your messages. If people don’t open your emails or respond to your social media posts, there’s not much chance that they’ll respond to your promotional messages.

You can leverage curiosity by writing creative headline for your blog posts, videos and email subject lines, and by including hooks in your content to encourage people to check back for your next update.

These techniques will get people’s attention.


Controversy is increasingly becoming an effective way to gain mass influence.

Controversy creates a “virus-like dispersion.”

Controversy gives you attention, which increases awareness for your business. In Contagious: Why Things Catch On, Jonah Berger writes that when a topic is in the news, we’re more likely to talk about it. In his book Newsjacking, David Meerman Scott talks about how companies can inject themselves into a news narrative early on by providing quotes to reporters on Twitter or via free services like HARO.

Tim Ferris put it best when he observed, “The top stories all polarize people. Do not try to appeal to everyone. Instead, take a strong stance and polarize people. If you make it threaten people’s 3 Bs — behavior, belief, or belongings — you get a huge virus-like dispersion.”

Customers want brands to take a position.

For a long time the commonly held business wisdom was to avoid politics and religion. Today studies show that 2/3s of people want brands to take a stand on social and political issues. Increasingly companies like Nike are taking controversial stances that divide customers from non-customers along political fault lines. This strengthens relationships with customers who stay with you. It also attracts new customers who align with your company’s viewpoints.

Only you can assess whether a particular controversial stance will bolster or undermine your business.

Here are some factors factors you’ll want to consider.


Take a moment to review the list of 12 triggers we’ve just presented. Next to each trigger, list 1 or 2 ways you can use the trigger to improve your organization’s marketing and sales.

  1. Authority
  2. Reciprocity
  3. Trust
  4. Anticipation
  5. Likability
  6. Events and Rituals
  7. Community
  8. Scarcity
  9. Social Proof
  10. Aesthetics
  11. Curiosity
  12. Controversy

What mental trigger has the most unexplored potential for your business?

A Free Gift from Deliberate Directions

Would you like a spreadsheet that helps you track the return on investment for each of your marketing strategies? This worksheet will help you zero in on strategies that work and cut the ones that don’t.

Download our free Marketing Tracker

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

Join our list for exclusive tips, content and a welcome gift – our ebook on how to engage your team and boost profits.