The Power of Micro-Commitments


Relationships are rarely built on sudden dramatic, life-changing commitments that come like a bolt from the blue. We may occasionally hear about people who have decided to cross continents, to start a new life with someone they’ve briefly encountered over the internet, but it’s far from the norm and usually involves a Western Union transfer.

Most of us are creatures of habit, combining caution with a hesitant openness to new things. Some of us may be more impulsive than others, but when we make large commitments, they’re usually built on a series of smaller commitments. The same applies when it comes to marketing.

Little Steps

Asking for large commitments when you want people to buy your products or services can be counterproductive. People don’t like to be bounced into agreeing to things, be that a sales meeting or sharing their personal details. 

The reasons for this ultimately lie in our biology. Our brains are wired to treat new opportunities as a potential threat and to proceed with caution. Even if we tentatively like the idea, we feel a hesitancy about proceeding until we’ve established that we’re not making a terrible mistake.

To help people make a large commitment, you need to offer them risk-free smaller steps along the way.


The Power of Micro-Commitments

Micro-commitments are smaller steps that help to build trust, directing prospects further into the sales funnel. They can be used to build relationships between the prospect and the brand, deepening engagement until they reach a point where they’re able to make a larger commitment such as making a purchase or taking out a subscription.

What Purpose do Micro-Commitments Play?

  • Micro-commitments allow you to slowly enter a prospect’s consciousness
  • Micro-commitments gather value. As the prospect makes progressively greater investments of effort or time, they are placing a higher value on the process, the brand and the product, leading them towards a larger commitment or outcome.
  • Micro-commitments allow you to test engagement, what works and what doesn’t when it comes to engaging with prospects.

Examples of Micro-Commitments

Micro-commitments can take a wide range of forms, dependent on the brand, its particular marketplace and how your goods or services are consumed.

Here are a few examples of micro-commitments and how they help to drive engagement and support the whole sales process.

Following on Social Media

A simple way to start is by encouraging people to like your social media page, be that Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You might create an easy to share post with wide appeal, such as something about your location: ‘Support a local business by liking our page’. You may even just ask directly if a prospect or lead will follow your page or account…it’s a low commitment request, but it serves the dual benefit of providing you with another channel to market to them on, and gaining their compliance for larger requests later on. 

Connecting on LinkedIn

Similar to the above is an invitation to connect on LinkedIn, but one perhaps better suited to freelancers and businesses offering commercial services. You’re asking for a small commitment, similar to one that users on the platform have probably made countless times before without giving it much thought.

 Direct Users to Your Website

By creating useful and engaging content you can then encourage connections via social media, or LinkedIn to visit your website. This helps to build trust and engagement, at the same time as delivering value to your prospects. Make sure your content is interesting so that you don’t become associated with boring or irrelevant content that means you get ignored.

Each time they click they are making a micro-commitment, with the expectation of value in the form of your content. They will start to attribute fulfilling your requests with receiving value, opening the door for larger requests and commercial conversations.


Newsletter/Email Sign-Up

After a prospect has liked a social media page, or connected via LinkedIn and then visited the website to engage with the content provided, the next step is asking them to opt-in to marketing emails or a regular newsletter. What value will this give them? Make sure it’s made clear. You should then follow up the initial sign-up with a nurturing email that gives the prospect more information about what you offer, and how you might be able to help them. Avoid too much hard-sell that spooks them and means they head for the unsubscribe button.

 Replying to Emails

The simple act of replying to an email can be considered a micro-commitment. One of the most valuable thing we have is time, and if someone is engaging in conversation, even if they are saying they aren’t interested, it shows some level of commitment…unless of course you have really wound them up and it is from a place of anger.

Leverage this micro-commitment by directly asking your prospects to reply to your email or message. You’ll be surprised at how many comply.

Even if the response isn’t exactly a customers bank details, it shows an openness to conversation and provides an opportunity for you to provide value and prove your worth.

Use Tripwires

A tripwire product or service is a high-value, low priced offer that is solely there to move your customers through the buyer journey and turn them into customers.

You can create a tripwire service by looking at your core offering and splintering off its component parts to see which you can productise. By selecting a component part that provides value and is also part of a larger offering, you build trust in what you offer whilst qualifying the customer as being interested in your main product or service.

A tripwire is a way to both convince your customer that you’re a good fit, and also gauge their willingness to purchase services from you. It moves them along the buyer journey, and provided they have received sufficient value and had a good experience, opens them up for you to close larger services or your core offering.

Boiling Frogs

Micro-commitments are small steps that take a prospect from a position of curiosity to one of commitment without prompting them to flee.

Think back to the fable about the frog… If you suddenly throw a frog into a pan of boiling water, it will jump out. If you put the frog into tepid water and slowly turn the heat up, it won’t perceive the danger. 

Your customers have been misled, forced into decisions and had bad experiences in the past. This, combined with their biological hardwiring, means that you need to handle them carefully. Provide value, build trust and don’t try and throw them into a pot of boiling water.

Jack Barron, Director

Jack is passionate about marketing and helping small to medium-sized businesses thrive. As Director of Invoke Media, he is responsible for overseeing the planning and implementation of every campaign, getting stuck into the execution of successful at every opportunity.

Further Reading