Magical Combinations of Small Effects

The beauty of small effects is that their combinations may create a much bigger effect than just their sum. Each effect on its own may not have an influential impact, but their synergistic combinations may have big effects.

The combinations of small effects have huge potential in sales, marketing, creative approaches leadership, and social connections, to name just a few examples.

Humans love to get things free. People also love to have choices. It is much better to combine the two loves- give free offers with the customer having the choice to choose an item among few free ones.

The creative ability of identifying small gestures offers a business and leader great strengths to gain the hearts of customers and followers.

People like acknowledgment for what they do. You identified a key person and wish him to write a recommendation for you. You can write a message requesting him to recommend you. Maybe he does not know you. Your acknowledgment of his credibility may not be enough to make him write a recommendation letter.

You could try your luck and send the message with your understanding that he may be too busy to write the recommendation letter. However, you may improve your chances if you write a review on a book he published, comment on a few of his posts, retweet his tweets and other gestures. He may become familiar with you and your chances that he would recommend you increase.

Thinking deeper about this scenario you combined several small effects. You acknowledged his status, you proved you are worthy to write a recommendation for and you established the reciprocity principle in that people like to return favors. You also gave the recommender the choice of recommending or not.

This brings me to the Franklin Effect. A person who has already performed a favor for another person is more likely to do another favor for the other than if they had received a favor from that person. An explanation for this is cognitive dissonance (Wikipedia).

To grasp this effect I share the following story.

In one of my training workshops for a pharmaceutical company one of the trainees said that he became the number one salesperson. Medical doctors banned visits for medical representatives to introduce new drugs. Medical doctors (MDs) felt disturbed by their frequent visits and left outside signs that medical representatives were not allowed in their clinics.

The trainee magically applied the Ben Franklin Effect without being aware of it. He started to collect information about his candidate MDs. The information included not only their medical interests but also their hobbies. He then designed a weekly newsletter for each MD. He highlighted a specific newsletter according to the specialty and hobbies of each MD. He hired a graphic designer to make the newsletters appealing to read. He summarized in each one the new advancements in the field of the doctor’s specialty. He kept sending the newsletter for weeks and then stopped and visited each one of them as a patient and not as a medical rep.

To his surprise, the doctors remembered him and wondered why he stopped sending the newsletters. To reciprocate the medical doctors allowed him to visit them and instructed their staff to welcome him. The medical rep. opened the closed doors with his free and relevant newsletters. That helped the medical rep. to become the top performer.

Knowing the small effects is good, but combining them purposefully is magical.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. Lovely views expressed. Even in life the small things give joy like morning cup of Tea with chirping and energetic birds. It is the small gestures like smile , thanks, How are you? makes the difference. Indian author Arunadhati Roy has expressed beautifully in ” god of small things”

    In nature also earth spins around own axis at slow speed creates day and night, the weak gravitation but retains atmosphere, enabling nature . some of my views are :

    • DVINOD_IN – what you wrote towards the end on spinning I feel my head spinning with admiration for your examples.

      The whole ide is that people respond to small acts. To take your smile example if you smile at me and I give a bigger smile to the next person (because I happy with your smile) and the third person gives a bigger smile and so on the rippling effect magnifies.

      I consider your comment as the first smile. Thank you