The reciprocity principle is one of the basic laws of social psychology: it says that in many social situations, we pay back what we received from others.
It refers to the universal tendency in human beings to feel compelled to reciprocate when given a gift.
In other words, if John does you a favor, you’re likely to return it to him.
Not convinced of the validity of this principle?
Consider the old saying, “much obliged.”
- “Much obliged” originated from the Spanish word, “obligado,”
- “Obligado” means “obligated” and originated from the Latin word “obligo”
- “Obligo” means “bound in obligation”
- Oblige, in turn, carries the symbolic meaning of being bound to a debt
And yet the term “much obliged” was long used interchangeably with “thank you” — in turn signaling that thanks weren’t sufficient. They needed to come with the action of reciprocity.
So, what does that mean in the modern marketing landscape?
Could creating high-quality, value-driven content tap into the reciprocity principle?
Is it possible that, once you’ve provided your prospective members with enough free value that they’ll feel inclined to reciprocate by signing up at your space when they need somewhere to work? Or that the content you create could inspire your existing members to reciprocate with their loyalty, in turn reducing your churn?
Absolutely. But it’s important that it comes from a place of genuine care and a true desire to help your members.
Be authentic. Know your audience. And focus on trying to help them. If you’re simply pushing a sale, they’ll see right through it.