What Is Foot in the Door Theory and How Should You Use It?

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Everyone wants a healthy amount of new customers coming through the door daily, but not enough is said about the importance of a returning customer base.

Alright that's sort of a lie. We - and I personally - have written about loyal customers, their importance and how to earn your share of them.

Having loyalty in your consumers is a guaranteed way of getting regular customers who not only continue buying products and/or services from you, but recommend your goods to others. They're dangerously important and you, as a brand, should do everything in your power to win them over.

Psychologically though, what is it that makes someone buy something from somewhere, and then go back to buy again there, rather than checking out somewhere else? There's so many options in the world these days when it comes to literally any product or service, it's weird that certain brands do get repeat custom.

3,122 Foot In The Door Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock

Well, this is all down to the "foot in the door" theory. To explain this theory, psychologists use the examples of both visiting restaurants and getting tattoos.

With the latter, for every tattooed person, the average amount of tattoos they have is four. For restaurants, people are more inclined to visit establishments that they're already entirely familiar with when going out for a meal. Both the concept of getting tattoos and the familiarity of a restaurant you like have their "foot in the door" of your psyche.

This goes further into bigger and better profit-making methods as, essentially, once a customer has been swayed into a small purchase, they're more likely to go on and make a large purchase with the same company further down the line. This also works in regards to convincing a potential customer to do something small - like join a call or webinar - which then opens the door for some sort of small transaction.

This is why sales reps will often try to schedule follow-up meetings with you even before your initial meeting has ended. Salespeople have been using the foot in the door method for years now, and it's time marketers started doing the same.

Work on leads who engage with your channels

When collating a list of leads, focus your attention on those who have already made engagements with your brand, no matter how small they are, and preferably leads who have engaged a number of times.

This means that when you look at the sources of your leads, those who have engaged with ungated content, gated content, social media, webinars and/or newsletters are more likely to step their interest up a level.

It doesn't matter how insignificant an engagement with your brand might seem, as each and every one of them is a way to get your foot in the door.

foot in the door

Pay attention to existing customers

As we've worked out, when you have had previous contact with someone, they're more likely to extend their patronage with you. Upselling has become an ugly word, reserved exclusively for sales reps at HiFi shops, but there is logic in upselling to someone who has already purchased from you in the past.

Instead of spending a bunch of money on targeting a new customer, consider spending all - or at least some of it - targeting existing consumers and clients. See if they might be interested in upgrading their package with you, or generally doing business with you again.

Target well and target persistently

To make sure you well and truly have your foot in the door, you need to make sure that you're targeting your leads efficiently. You want to constantly remind them that you exist and that you're open - and happy - for business.

Remember that if someone's engaged with you before, they're more likely to engage with you again. All you need to do at this point is invite them to engage them again; whether that's with email discounts, promotions or whatever, the hard part of your job has already been done if they've bought from you before!