35,000… the number of decisions that the average person makes per day. Evaluating each of those decisions would drive all of us to drink. To preserve our mental sanity, we rely on outside forces, or triggers, that influence our decision-making and help speed up our information processing. Why should we care about these primarily subconscious triggers? Simple. A successful marketer will use these influential triggers in their favor to elicit a positive response from their target audience.

In support of this idea, researchers have examined consumer behavior and the decision-making process. Robert Cialdini, one of the most renowned researchers in this field, founded six triggers that influence our decision-making. He called them the “Weapons of Influence”.

And with all this being said, we would like to introduce…L7 Creative’s toolbox of marketing mayhem! In this toolbox, we will post a series of blog posts that will unveil all six essential psychological levers to improve your marketing and advertising initiatives. Let’s kick this off with weapon one, “reciprocity”. 

Weapon One: Reciprocity

“An eye for an eye”

“Damn it”…the feeling we get when our “not-that-close-friend” Jill gives us a present on our birthday and now we feel obligated to get Jill something for her birthday.

Let me illustrate the power of this weapon using a real business example. Since 2002, 7-Eleven has been hosting their self-created holiday, “Free Slurpee Day” on July 11th. On last year’s “Free Slurpee Day” they gave away an estimated 9 million free Slurpees. What’s more interesting is what happens to sales this day…They skyrocket. But did you know that Slurpee sales actually increase? Ironically, Slurpee sales experience a spike sometimes as high as 40% (for size upgrades, additional Slurpees, etc.). It’s no surprise that overall sales at 7-Eleven increase on this day…but what’s up with the Slurpees? Reciprocity at work.

For the purpose of unanimity, the weapon “reciprocity” is that obligatory feeling or impulse we get when we want to repay another person (or company) after we feel like they provided us with something or treated us a certain way. They did not require us to reciprocate the favor. Rather, we simply feel obligated or more willing to return the favor, without being “required” to do so.

Implications for Marketers

What are the implications of reciprocity for a marketer and how can you integrate it into your strategies?


Reciprocity can be used in numerous marketing applications, you can use it to generate leads, build your subscriber following, or ask for feedback, just to name a few. How you ask? One way would be to offer a “free” downloadable resource on your website (for example: L7 Creative would offer a free chapter from our upcoming book, Adapt or Die). Upon receiving this free resource, a form would appear that asks for information, or simply ask users to subscribe to our blog. After receiving something for free, people feel more inclined to respond positively to a follow-up request, putting you that much closer to reigning in another prospect.

Customer Service & Personalization

Another simple reciprocity tactic is to take extra special care of your customers and prospects. Take to heart the common expression, “the customer is always right” (even though it might not always be true). Your unconditional exceptional customer service will only benefit you in the long run. Go out of your way to provide your current customers and prospects with the best possible service. When pitching your services to a prospect, include a touch of personalization in your message, tailored to their individual needs. A touch of personalization will increase your chance of success. Your customers can then reciprocate your actions in many ways. They may choose you as their service provider or partner, write you a glowing review, or generate positive word-of-mouth.


In the real world, reciprocity is a lot like the saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” (unless you’re a Kardashian). Reciprocity is all about that warm and fuzzy concept, “give and take”. And there you have it, good ol’ reciprocity, in a nutshell. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, we hope that it helps you in your future marketing initiatives. Now, if you could just subscribe to our blog by clicking here we would really appreciate it (wink* wink*).

Stay tuned for Part Two in this series where we will cover the marketing insights and implications of the weapon, “Commitment”.


By: Christina Gineris