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Identification

In persuasion, identification is simply the process of having elements in common with your target, which persuades as they identify with you.

There are usually two key elements to identification:

  • Eliciting (asking for the characteristics you want);
    • “I only work with top performers”;
    • “I only work with managers that recognize my talent”;
  • Embodiment (embodying similar characteristics to the target’s);
    • “I know you’re cautious, Mr. [ABC], so let me tell you that I am as well. There was this time when I [ABC]”;

Naturally, identification works better when you have a super-specific avatar of your client or target.

Identification will make you polarizing – you will become magnetic to the right type of client/target, but also repulsive to others. This is supposed to happen, and is part of specialization – it’s specializing in terms of characteristics.

While eliciting and embodiment are more about identifying with someone in terms of their general personality and who they are, you can also use in-the-room techniques to make the person feel similar to you right here and now, such as mirroring.

Underlying Psychology/Biases

Identification works because, when someone identifies with someone else, they subconsciously like them more. They also consider recommendations to be more trustworthy because the person is similar to them.

When trying to create identification with people, it’s crucial to remove preconceived notions. This is important because, if you’re judging or hating your target in any way, you will never truly connect with them.

  • Hate rich people? You will never learn how to amass wealth (or connect with people who do);
  • Hate marketers? You will never learn to properly sell yourself (or connect with people who do);

Sub-Techniques

  • Eliciting
    • It’s simply the act of asking for specific characteristics from your client/target. Usually the most useful ones for you;
    • “I only work with wealthy and committed clients”;
    • “I only invest in diligent and hard-working entrepreneurs”;
  • Embodiment
    • Embodiment is all about showing that you share similar traits or experiences;
    • Traits
      • If a real estate agent wants to work with millionaire mansion owners, which may have traits such as being extravagant, having right-wing views, and maybe others, they can show how they are similar;
      • If a hedge fund manager wants an allocation from a diligent, wealthy allocators, they can show how they are diligent themselves;
    • Experiences
      • Showing that you have been through the same actual experiences also creates identification;
      • Football players respect more coaches that have been players themselves;
      • Traders respect fund managers more as their managers if the managers have been traders themselves;
  • Social techniques
    • Although identification can be used 1-to-1, to make the target identify with you, it’s also an accelerator for other techniques, including social proof or social identity contradictions;
    • In short, the more the target identifies with the person recommending something (or recommending they don’t do something), the more effective the technique will be;

Examples

  • Stereotypes
    • Stereotypes can be harmful, but they are also excellent for persuasion;
      • Obeying the stereotype works when the target is expecting it;
    • If you’re a real estate agent whose clients expect a warm, professional, open person, and they are like that, obeying the stereotype will accelerate identification;
  • “Tell me more
    • In many activities, including in hiring, all candidates will say that they have a certain personality trait;
    • Asking questions such as, “How do you have that trait?”, or “What’s good or bad about having it?” test the person and whether they actually have it or are just pretending;
  • Client avatars
    • A basic example. In sales and marketing, the ideal client is represented as an avatar, with their demographics, gender, dreams, hopes, usual activities, and more. This makes it easier to write copy they can identify with;

Commercial/Known Uses

Key Takeaways

  • Identification is all about you seeming similar to the target. The more that you have a super specific image of who they are, the more you can use these characteristics to speak their language and seem similar to them;
  • There are usually two methods to demonstrate identification – eliciting and embodiment – which are, respectively, about drawing out specific characteristics/traits in a person, and showing that you share these;
  • The more that you identify with a specific profile, the more you will be polarizing. The more you will magnetically attract this profile, the more you will repel opposite profiles;

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