Reciprocity Decay


Today’s concept can be summed up as “strike while the iron is hot” but it’s much more fun to use scientific research to see why this colloquialism is so powerful.

Reciprocity is the human need (and tendency) to want to give something back when something is received. People feel a sense of obligation to do something for you when you've done something for them.

New research just released found that if we don't trigger reciprocity within a given timeframe, the sense of obligation may be lost, Reciprocity Decay.

The study tracked hospitals and the window of time between when a patient had received a visit, and when the hospital asked for a donation.  If the hospital canvassed within 30 days of the patient’s last visit, there was a 1.5% chance of receiving a donation. Waiting over 30 days brought the likelihood of a donation down to a measly .4% chance.  When they waited two months they found a pitiful .2% probability of donation.

There’s a “Goldilocks” window of time when it’s appropriate to make your ask in return.  Not SO soon as to create discomfort and make it seem like it was just a transactional relationship, but not SO long that people forget about you.

It’s not that the receiver didn’t find value in your gift, it’s just that their memory of the feeling has diminished and life's Present Bias simply gets in the way. They have to feed their kids, pay the bills, book a vacation. We simply forget what you gave.

So how does this apply to you? If you’re sending out a value campaign in your business, you shouldn’t send a follow up immediately the next hour...but you also shouldn’t wait a whole month because the chances are they’ve likely forgotten about you. Be in that sweet spot of follow up, and be top of mind.  

The real way to compound the value you provide and skyrocket your chances of booking clients is by using frequency. Impressions count in marketing and you must use this to your advantage.  Frequency + value is a concept I outline fully in my case study found here.

Brett Morris