facebookIcon tracking


4 Ways to Build Certainty for Persuasive Marketing

Published: September 23, 2014

Author: Molly Shotwell

Recently, we had the pleasure of welcoming Stanford Professor Zakary Tormala to our office in San Francisco for a Lunch and Learn event. Using experiments and surveys, Zak and his colleagues were able to gather the data to show that certainty and uncertainty can both be used effectively to build and maintain trust with a potential customer.
This post will cover the ways one can build certainty. We’ll have a post in the future about uncertainty.
If you build certainty using the following four techniques, people will feel more strongly about their attitude towards your product or brand. That means they’ll be more likely to buy, and more likely to buy sooner.


People feel more certain about their attitudes when they know other people share those attitudes. If you emphasize agreement in your messaging, you’ll be strengthening the attitudes of those who already have that attitude.
One example that uses consensus to a level of self-parody is the Chevron “we agree” page. If you agree with Chevron in any one of these categories, it should follow that you feel more positively about Chevron.
We Agree
Similarly, saying “We hear that a lot,” or “Someone else said that earlier today” when someone says something you’d like to reinforce is a good way to strengthen that attitude.


People feel more certain about their attitudes when they have to express the attitude multiple times.
You can use this idea to build certainty by repeating messaging in surveys (maybe you’ve seen this technique in surveys with somewhat repetitive questions). In meetings, it’s effective to ask someone whose attitude you like to “Tell everyone what you told me earlier,” or “That’s a great point; can you repeat it so everyone can hear you?”


People are more certain about thoughts and beliefs that they can recall easily.
In ad copy, or in a contest, you might not want to have participants think of 10 ways they like your product. While it would be useful for you to have such detail about why they like it, it can be fairly difficult to think of 10 reasons you like something. If you ask the participant for 2 or 3 reasons, they should come to mind more quickly, and thus inspire a feeling of certainty.

Defending an attitude

People feel more certain about their attitudes when they have to defend them.
If someone already holds the view you want them to have, you can give them some gentle pushback to make them defend their view and strengthen their attitude. A simple “Why do you think that?” can go a long way, or you can ask “What would you say if the rest of the team disagrees with you?”
Certainty can be a powerful tool if you know how to harness it’s abilities. How would you best apply techniques of building certainty in your ad campaigns?

25 E Washington Street
Suite 420

Chicago, IL 60602

(650) 539-4124

Want to become a client?

Contact Us decorative arrow

Want to join the team?

View Our Openings decorative arrow

Find us on social media.

Press inquiries.

Email Us decorative arrow

Expert insights for your inbox. Subscribe to our content.

Accept No Limits.