You get a phone call from a researcher asking what type of household cleaning products you use.  So, you list off the types of household cleaning products you use to the researcher on the phone.  Three days later, you get a call again from the same researcher asking if it is okay to send a group of workers to your house to manually note the cleaning products in your home.  What is your response?

In the 1960s, Jonathan Freedman and Scott Fraser conducted this exact study and found that a subject was 135% more likely to respond positively to the second request if they responded positively to the first request.  This phenomenon is known as the Foot-in-the-Door Method.  The Foot-In-the-Door Method states that people are more likely to agree to a larger request later, after committing to a small request first.

To further demonstrate the power of this phenomenon, Freedman and Fraser conducted a second experiment.  In this second experiment, Freedman and Fraser asked subjects to display a small sticker in the window of their home or car that would help to promote the protection of the environment or safe driving.  Then, they asked the subjects for a larger request—they asked the subjects to display a billboard sign in their yard with the same message.  76% of participants agreed to do so, compared to the mere 17% of the control group whom were just asked for the larger request (not the small request).

So what does this mean for marketers?  Ross Simmonds of surmises what exactly this means for marketers:

“The more frequently a customer opens your emails, downloads your content or goes along with your request, the more likely they are to comply with a larger request like sharing your content & inviting their friends.”

Small requests can lead to bigger requests and, therefore, more success for a particular company.  For example, marketers should target individuals that are already interested in their product/service and ask those individuals to share the product/service because they are more likely to do so versus newly exposed individuals (to the product/service).

Have you ever experienced the Foot-in-the-Door Method?  Be sure to comment below!