I’ve just read an interesting research study based on Robert Cialdini’s Influence work. Check out his Inside Influence website for the full article.
Testing a car wash loyalty program, researchers gave some customers a loyalty card with 8 boxes to stamp before getting a free wash and gave others a loyalty card with 10 boxes to stamp before the free wash, but two boxes were already pre-stamped. The effort was the same – they had to purchase 8 washes to get a free one.
Their findings were as the researchers hypothesized:
“The message is clear: people will be more likely to stick with programs and tasks if you can first offer them some evidence of how theyâ€™ve already made progress toward completing them. If you use this strategy, like cars at a carwash, your influence will sparkle.”
Implications for managers: keep looking for instances of where progress is already being made and bring that to people’s attention, so the finish line seems closer.