MSPs : Using The Ego Trap

Tech Insight : What Are SPF, DKIM, And DMARC Records?

Capitalising on Ego Traps: Some Potential Persuasion for Managed IT Services

Some recent research by Dolinski, Grzyb & Kulesza explores a new social influence technique called the “egotistic trap”. I personally call it the “Emperors New Clothes Trap” and here you’ll see why.

Here are the main points :

First of all – the Concept: The egotistic trap is a social influence technique based on the premise that people agree to requests that align with their desirable qualities. The technique is designed to make the subject believe that people characterised by a particular (socially positive) quality usually agree to act on similar requests. If the subject were to refuse to grant the request, they would be indirectly admitting that they lack this quality.

The Experiments: The first experiment tested the effectiveness of the egotistic trap by asking people to participate in a survey-based study.

In the control conditions, the student said: “Excuse me, I am a university student, and I need to conduct a study to get credit for one of my courses. Could you please help me? The thing is that I need to have this questionnaire filled out: it contains 142 questions. Would you agree to fill it out?” That elicited 32.7% compliance.

For the next group, the experimenter embedded 1 extra line : “We need to elicit answers from intelligent persons, and you simply appear to be one of them.” This one achieved 52.4% compliance – i.e. a 60% uplift !

  • Experiment 2: The second experiment aimed to persuade car owners to have their cars inspected at an official service station. Of the participants, 56.7% agreed in the standard conditions. However, when the phrase “studies show that sensible customers have their cars inspected at official service stations’ was included, the agreement rate increased to 71.7%”

    That’s only a  26% uplift this time but it’s still very impressive and the results of the experiments demonstrate that the egotistic trap technique is very effective. The technique can be used to increase compliance with requests by aligning them with the desirable qualities of the individuals being asked.

How can MSPs use this Technique?

One way to help your business via marketing is to bolster your MSPs business profile and you can do that by encouraging clients to leave positive Google reviews. Another way is via direct sales and you could look at increasing the sale of key services, for instance IT Security products.

Example 1 – Applying Ego Traps to Managed IT Services

Suppose you want to encourage clients to leave more positive Google reviews. You could approach them with a statement like: “We value feedback from successful businesses like yours on Google. Your insights could significantly help other advanced firms looking for quality IT services.”

Here, compliance not only validates the success of their business but also positions them as thought leaders, subtly encouraging them to leave a review.

Example 2  – Boosting IT Security Product Sales

The ego trap principle could also help you sell more IT Security products. Frame these products as solutions chosen by savvy, security-conscious businesses to protect their assets. You could say something like : “Our leading-edge IT Security products are favoured by forward-thinking businesses that prioritise their data’s security. Being a progressive firm, we believe these solutions align perfectly with your strategic objectives.” Admittedly, this is a mouthful – feel free to adapt it!

In this scenario, agreeing to purchase IT Security products validates their business as forward-thinking and security-conscious, making it more likely for them to comply.

In conclusion, the use of ego traps as a persuasion tactic can be a powerful tool in the managed IT services space. What this suggests is that by imposing desirable qualifications for compliance, you can encourage clients to leave positive reviews and boost your IT security product sales … or indeed any number of other compliance requests you suggest.

However, I’d advise using all of this with a little caution. The world isn’t short of people using techniques like this and in my opinion it can sound a little disingenuous. As in the ‘Emperors New Clothes’ when the two corrupt tailors say to the emperor that only clever people can see high magnificent clothes. This could backfire if you’re not careful.

So in conclusion, whether you decide to try it or not, it could pay just be aware of it, in case people are trying it on you!



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Mike Knight