The 3 Secret Persuasion Techniques Every Kid Knows

The 3 Secret Persuasion Techniques Every Kid Knows

Reader Comments (47)

  1. Laughing at this one. Copyblogger’s on a roll lately.

    Dean, you’re dead on. Children have a way of getting what they want even when not being whiny or tantrummy (yes, I know that’s not a real word) because they don’t use the same filters that we as adults to. They are direct and therefore often experience the benefits of their candor. On the flip side, getting children to do what we want them to do is a lot easier when we convince them of benefits rather than features.

  2. “Ask and you’ll receive; seek and you’ll find; knock and the door will be opened for you.”
    Luke’s Gospel, New Testament

    “But when (you) ask, (you) must believe and not doubt, because (when you) who doubt, you become like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
    Book of James, New Testament

  3. Know what’s funny? As a former TV producer, I used these three concepts every day to get people to agree to come on air and reveal things they wouldn’t even tell their closest friends and relatives. Great post!

  4. Wow… that puts the topic in a different light. It seems so simple when put that way. Amazingly simple concepts that we adults make overly complicated. It’s amazing how we lose that skill over the years. Great post and hopefully I’ll remember it.

    Jeremy @

  5. Looove this post. Kids are masters at getting what they want. I think another advantage they have is just dead honesty. Even when they’re lying, there’s something so genuine about them.

    I’d also like to know where I can get these battery-powered socks. Please advise.

  6. Dean, Thank you for pointing out that the time limit needs to be “real and unavoidable.” It drives me nuts to read sales letters that talk about limited availability or temporary discounts that are completely bogus. Talk about the boy who cried wolf!

  7. I remember using these same techniques when I was a kid (I just had to have every single G.I. Joe). You’d think that after years in the sales field I’d remember this stuff. But like Jeremy said, we adults make things complicated.

    I’m putting out a personal challenge for everyone to simplify everything to it’s simplest form.

    I guess that’s why great coaches always say “Stick to the basics”

    Great post Dean.

    C.A. Simmons –

  8. Out of all these steps 2 is the most important. Skip that one and all else fails. Be sure it’s a “because” that matters – otherwise your ask is DOA. – You’re welcome! – L

  9. Is that my son you were talking about? He always drives me nuts when he does that, so it’s nice that I can now thank him for the copywriting lesson. 😉

  10. Spot on. My kids teach me about people every day. They are so direct in their desires that everything you need to know about human nature and why people do what they do is right there in their honest little voices. Great post.

  11. Janet: It doesn’t get any better when they’re teenagers. They get more sophisticated about it, but they’re still employing the same techniques. Plus, by that time, they’re *really* mastered that Manipulative Guilt stuff. (Acck!) And, on that note, I’d better go download that CD I promised my older son….

  12. Thanks for the post Dean, the parent/child context always makes it easy to identify with the content you are communicating… those poor people that have piles of money and time but no kids.

    @Jlibbey – agreed that the way in which the message is communicated makes a difference. Sometimes this conflicts with the introduced scarcity of Item #3. Sometimes scarcity makes the pitch less believable. Sales isn’t as simple as portrayed above, but these points will help someone starting out.

  13. Simple, concise, and legitimate advice.

    For some reason, we can get so caught up in more complicated approaches in attempting persuasion. As with most things, it helps to go back to the bare essentials to refocus on what really works.

    Good post, Dean.

  14. Having a background in marketing, this concept is very familiar to me. The time pressure thing really does work. It’s an effective call to action. Now, I’m off to get myself a Power Space Commando Ninja Mutant Brain Blaster. It sounds fun!

    Great post. Thanks.

  15. Great article Dean! I see a lot of adcopy use the scarcity technique so I see why it works. But for me, that’s the one thing that makes me click away from the offer BECAUSE (lol) it creates a sense of desperation from the seller. What makes me think they’re going to end the offer anytime soon when he/she needs a lot of people to buy into it? And…if there’s a great response to it, why wouldn’t they offer it again?? Means more money again right? LOL I like when it stops at “Buy it now and you get such and such offers for free or an additional percentage off” type thing rather than the hurry up before it’s gone. 🙂

  16. Interesting post. True marketing ideas. Shame that the analogy fits so many grotty kids today.

  17. @Mary Leedy, LOL! I know what you mean. But…our $19.99 Champion sports bra sale really is going to end on 4/26. (The brand folks only let us do it twice a year.) There will be another promotion after that one, but the bra sale’s the best of the best, so the urgency really is real. Which reminds me that I haven’t bought my own bras with my employee discount yet, LOL!

  18. Love this post! it is so true! I am about to become a mom – so I guess I can look forward to more marketing lessons 😉

  19. Great post, Dean. Now can you please explain how my Jack Russell Terriers send me out for bones by the silent use of big eyes, tilted heads and paws on my knee?! 🙂

  20. Paul:
    I know you’re joking, but actually there’s a specific principle involved with your dog. Humans are hard wired to respond to the facial appearance of babies – big eyes, head tilt, etc. Popular pets often have this look. And dogs are smart enough to learn to use it.

    I’ve done TV ad tests with a child sponsorship organization. We tested different kid faces. The ones that got the best response had that baby look.

  21. It may work on the masses…but some of these specific things incite me to resist purchasing. At the very least, I resist through the time pressure.

    The big eyes…heh…my son is turning two, so he might change my anti-kids-market-to-me attitude.

  22. Agreeing with Dean for the “big eyes, head tilt, etc.” Otherwise the Puss in Boots (Shrek movie) won’t get such a huge ‘AAwwww…’ at that particular scene. Don’t get too easily deceived with that cute look though. Although I do have to applaude for your creativity for bringing out the message in a cute way. Kids, so natural with it; maybe we could learn a thing or two.

  23. Wow, @kenop, you hit the nail on the head! I actually try not to promise my son stuff, but I have a hard time saying no to him (much harder than saying “no” to a salesperson).

    I’ll have to study that technique, cause it’s definitely the trust issue that causes me to give in *after* I’ve made the promise. If I don’t keep my promise, he learns that his mom is not trustworthy, which is scary for a kid, and he’ll also learn indirectly that it’s okay for him and others not to be trustworthy.

    Oh, and at 13, he still has the cuteness to get his own way. 😉

    Not sure how to do this with clients, but I’m going to study it.

    Or maybe I’ll just let my son do the selling for me. Ha ha.


  24. Too true. What a great spin on persuasion.

    I want a Power Space Commando Ninja Mutant Brain Blaster. It sounds fun. Can I shoot my husband with it or does it only work on kids?

  25. Dean,

    Great route into this story, and it touches on something we all agree with — that children know more about how to live than all of us adults combine. Good work.

  26. This is a clean article summarizing some of the points made in Influence by Robert Cialdini. Nice read.

  27. Great post! I enjoyed reading it, and I learned a few things (both about writing and about what I have to look forward to with our first). Bonus!

  28. Dean, as usual, you are spot on. I love the simplicity of this post- because, at it’s core, selling is all about giving someone something they already want. We tend to over-complicate it, or at least I do.

    Thanks again.


  29. Dean,

    Great post, but you missed the most important technique: Persistence. Remember the scene in the Simpsons, when Bart keeps going, “Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad…” Until Homer screams and give in? I hope you do, because otherwise I’m just making it up.

    I have a 12 year old just like that. Not only will he ask once, he’ll ask a half a dozen times. Then when we say no, he’s ask why not. Then a few days later, he’ll start asking again. And he’ll keep asking, not daily, but on a consistent basis, so that eventually we say yes! Tenacious and successful, my son is going to be a great salesman someday!

    Never give up!


  30. @Wendy

    ..which is why I had to implement an ‘Ask 3 times = Automatic No’ rule at my home.

    Persistence is definitely the Irresistible Force when used with Ask, Reason, Time and Contract is all ‘bargaining’ situations, and once a good head of steam is built up…

  31. Jim,

    You’re right about the 3 time rule, but really, this kid is TENACIOUS! 🙂 He makes one of those old-fashioned car salesmen look tame! 🙂

  32. This article is funny, great and true-to-life.

    Indeed, we can acquire things in life if we learn to be like kids, not whiny or anything, but direct to the point. At times we must put away our pride for a while and learn to ask for something, be it for help, or things like that just as long as your reason follows logic.

  33. Great post. Obviously you become more aware of peoples feelings and read their attitude before saying things a lot of the time and this holds us back from what we are really wanting to say. I think this post shows there is no need to be too wary of speaking what you think as long as it is polite and inoffensive.
    I think more aspects of kindness and innocence need to be learnt from children.

  34. .which is why I had to implement an ‘Ask 3 times = Automatic No’ rule at my home.

    Persistence is definitely the Irresistible Force when used with Ask, Reason, Time and Contract is all ‘bargaining’ situations, and once a good head of steam is built up…

  35. Kids are master salesmen, they negotiate naturally .. I promise if I can have a sweet now I’ll (a) eat my supper (b) go to bed without a fuss (c) tidy my room or whatever they need to use as persuasion. If you say no they don’t accept it and carry on negotiating until they get a yes, a lesson to be learned??

This article's comments are closed.