Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

What

The seminal book on persuasion that everyone and their mom recommends (with good reason).

Why

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to influence someone’s behavior, opinion, or beliefs, this is the book.

Most of today’s popular books on persuasion and sales are rip offs of this guy. The reason this is the “seminal” text everyone goes back to is because this stuff works. It’s not enough to know the “hacks” you read on Joe Shmo’s blog, you need to understand why those hacks work. This book explains that in frightening and fascinating (but still palatable) depth.

TL;DR: Don’t just watch the RSA animate – read the book.

Disclaimer

It doesn’t read as nicely as the memoir style storytelling (after all, Cialdini isn’t a copywriter), but don’t be deterred. Worth pushing through for the “ah ha” moments it will inspire for your sales.

Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

What

A fascinating look at the psychology of why we buy, how we eat, and why we eat (that we aren’t aware of).

Why

I’ve gifted this book the most because it is jam-packed with useful insights into psychology, human behavior, and persuasion.

Even if you’re not interested in food, the studies Wansink outlines will blow your mind. He shows you how emotional food really is and how susceptible we are to things like social forces or our environment when it comes to what and how we eat.

You’ll learn details like how music influences how you eat, the effect of menu labeling on order options, how pricing effects value perception, how your senses deceive you, and more troubling truths about human nature when it comes to food.

Disclaimer

It will change how you eat.

Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom

What

Exposé on how companies manipulate us into loving them and buying more. But with science. Neuroscience. #nerdalert

Why

If you’re on the fence about whether “branding” actually works, this will tip the scale.

Lindstrom’s done a ton of research in the field with some pretty big brand names. He takes you behind-the-scenes as he exposes their manipulative tricks and explains why they work. Some will surprise you; others will trouble you (like how the addition of sweat bubbles on a photo of a can of soda can dramatically increase sales or how music influences your purchase behavior in stores).

He sensationalizes the “manipulation and deception” angle a bit for the sake of controversy. Most of what’s in here isn’t bad, it’s smart and generally good business practices (like giving samples of your clothes to celebrities with social influence, for example).

(PS: This is the second book to a companion, Buy-ology, but this one is better. And includes as much as the first + some.)

Disclaimer

It’s not a book on “branding.” It’s about how the brands we create influence everything from our purchase behavior to our beliefs about the world.

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

What

The immutable laws of advertising condensed into a deceptively quick read.

Why

Ogilvy said that “Nobody should be allowed to anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times.” And I am inclined to agree.

If you’re wondering why you’re not selling as much as you should be, this book will explain. Hopkins shows where and how you are leaving a ton of money on the table if you don’t know these basic principles of selling.

Disclaimer

Don’t be fooled by his simple tone and straightforwardness. There are enormous wisdom bombs in here that you will miss if you’re not reading carefully. Take your time with this one. It’s a short read, but it is packed with insights that will change your business forever.

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