Reciprocity Technique #2: “That’s Not All”

16.03.2017 |

Episode #4 of the course Persuasion science masterclass: part I by Andy Luttrell


For the past couple days, we’ve been talking about the reciprocity principle, which is that you can gain compliance by first giving something yourself. Another technique you can use to take advantage of this principle is the “That’s Not All” effect.

You’ve probably heard this in infomercials where someone’s trying to pitch a product. They’re telling you all the great things about it, and then at the last minute, they go, “But that’s not all!” We’ll also include these additional benefits and give it to you for even less!” These strategies take advantage of reciprocity. In this case, it’s giving an additional benefit at the last minute that makes people think that they’re getting the gift of a special offer.

Specifically, the “That’s Not All” technique is when you present an offer and you frame it as a special gift.

There are a couple ways that you can use the “That’s Not All” technique. One of them is to decrease the price. This is a way of making a special offer that feels like a gift. For example, you might say, “You know what? I usually sell this for $10, but I’ll give it to you for $5.” You can hear when you frame a discount like that, you’re saying, “I’m going to do you a favor.”

You can also do this through adding extra value. Rather than reducing the cost, you can do essentially the same thing but say, “Listen, if you get this from me, I’ll go ahead and throw in an extra product.” Although you haven’t actually given them anything yet, you’re presenting them an offer that feels as though you’re giving a special gift—a special offer for them—and then they feel compelled to pay you back.

To illustrate this, let’s take a look at one study that’s commonly cited as evidence for the “That’s Not All” effect (Burger, 1986). The setting for this study was a bake sale. They were selling a bunch of cupcakes, but they didn’t have prices on the table, so people had to ask for them. Sometimes they simply said that the cupcakes were 75 cents. Other times, they applied the “That’s Not All” technique and said, “You know what? They’re actually a dollar, but we’ll give them to you for 75 cents.” Notice that the selling price is exactly the same in both cases, so any difference in how likely people are to buy a cupcake isn’t about what the cost is. It’s something additional about having made a special offer.

The results showed that people buy more when there was a special offer. Under normal conditions, when people were just told that the cupcakes were 75 cents, people bought a cupcake less than half of the time. However, when the same price was presented as a special offer, more than 70% of people bought a cupcake. The price was the same—but the “offer” was a strong influence.

In sum, this evidence shows how simply presenting a request as though it’s a “gift” that you’re giving to someone is enough to activate the reciprocity principle and increase your influence.


Recommended book

“To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others” by Daniel H. Pink


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