Authors Noah Goldstein, Steve Martin, and Robert Cialdini provide what they promise: 50 case studies where science determined the difference between "yes" and "no" responses.
The book feels like a quick read - the 50 chapters are short and the writing style familiar. But Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive stands out for two reasons: everything is backed up by hard data and there is a prominent focus on the ethical use of these studies throughout the book.
Gimme The Facts, Ma'am
Remember how much I liked Groundswell? Yes! might not have quite as much data, but it comes close. It isn't bogged down with numbers, but the authors are very clear about the research and testing that goes into their conclusions.
For instance, let's imagine that your business relies on your employees to make deals with other people. In one of the Yes! tests, when one group of test subjects was asked to mimic an negotiator's physical behavior, they reached a deal 67% of the time. Think about your imaginary business for a second. How much would a 10% decrease in deal-making hurt you? What about 20%? Then, when I tell you that non-mimicking pairs of negotiators reached a deal only 12.5% of the time - a difference of more than 54% - you might start believing in the author's persuasive techniques (page 135).
Giving Marketers A Good Name?
The other major reason why I encourage you read this book is because the ethical ramifications of our work is never hidden away (also making a good gift for college students or young marketers learning the ropes).
They advocate that not only is unethical marketing morally distasteful, but that it's less profitable too. In one example, the authors contend,
"Often the first influence strategy that comes to mind will not be the most ethical - or the wisest, as was demonstrated...as ethical persuaders, we can take comfort in knowing that those who do choose to wield social influence as a destructive weapon, rather than a constructive tool, will inevitably end up pointing that weapon at themselves and shooting themselves in the foot" (page 220).
We are in more desperate times than usual, but we are also reaping the fruits of social media marketing where, improbably, the good guys (Zappos, others) really can win.
Buy It Or Skip It?
This isn't a perfect book by any means. A few of the stories are boring, a little of the humor falls flat. But these aren't damning failures by any means.
I'd say buy it. The hard cover is usually under $20 and the soft cover even less. It's perfect for a business trip and quick enough to be read in a weekend. Pick up Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be Persuasive.
There are a lot of airy, feel-good marketing books out there and they have their place (usually for marketers new to online or social media marketing). But the 10% who have been dabbling for years in this arena don't need those types of books. They need Yes! types of books.