The PR BlogMedia & PsychologyPersuasion & InfluenceThe Priming Wheel: 12 Steps to Yes

The Priming Wheel: 12 Steps to Yes

Persuasion as a proactive 12-step process.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

What’s a prim­ing wheel?

I’ve stud­ied suc­cess­ful email autorespon­der sequences and iden­ti­fied recur­ring themes. 

It’s about prim­ing—ensur­ing that the poten­tial cus­tom­er is ready to buy when it’s time for you to ask for the sale. 

Here we go:

Doctor Spin’s Autoresponder Strategy: The Priming Wheel

Many brands do one sales email and then one or two remind­ers. When I sug­gest set­ting up a more soph­ist­ic­ated email autorespon­der, a cli­ent might ask me, “But how on Earth do we come up with what to write for so many emails?”

The best per­suaders become the best through pre-sua­sion — the pro­cess of arran­ging for recip­i­ents to be recept­ive to a mes­sage before they encounter it.”
Robert Cialdini (author of Pre-Suasion)

Setting up an email autorespon­der can be a study in pro­gress­ive per­sua­sion.

To visu­al­ise this pro­gres­sion, I’ve put togeth­er the prim­ing wheel:

Priming Wheel - Persuasion - 12 Steps
A twelve-step pro­gram for prim­ing (pre-empt­ive persuasion).

The Priming Wheel’s 12-Step Program

Each prim­ing stage can be bundled with adja­cent steps — depend­ing on how many emails to send. You can arrange them dif­fer­ently to fit your product/​service and narrative.

  • Curiosity trig­ger. Make the email read­er take action to know more. Example: Make the read­er click some­thing to get started.
  • Emotional hook. Make the email read­er identi­fy emo­tion­ally with your mes­sage. Example: Tell the read­er a relat­able story.
  • Social proof. Make the email read­er less anxious by show­cas­ing third-party suc­cess stud­ies. Example: Provide testimonials.
  • Small ask. Make the email read­er com­mit to some­thing rel­at­ively easy. Example: Ask the read­er to describe their chal­lenge for a reward.
  • Value demon­stra­tion. Make the email read­er see a clear example of the bene­fits in action. Example: Visualise the bene­fits rather than the solution.
  • Mutual bene­fits. Make the email read­er trust the sender. Example: Explain why their suc­cess is fin­an­cially essen­tial for the sender.
  • Trust test. Make the email read­er do some­thing to see if they trust you enough. Example: Ask the read­er to share some­thing with their network.
  • Common enemy. Make the email read­er under­stand you’re facing a more extens­ive pic­ture togeth­er. Example: Give your enemy a face, a voice, and an appearance.
  • Negative rein­force­ment. Make the email read­er see the con­sequences of not com­ply­ing. Example: Demonstrate the worst-case scen­ario without hold­ing back.
  • Big ask (the sale). Make the email read­er under­stand that the time to buy is now, not later. Example: Put for­ward the offer with a countdown.
  • Feedback loop. Make the email read­er con­fid­ent about their pur­chase or decision. Example: Encourage the read­er (now cus­tom­er) and express companionship.
  • Referral ask. Make the email read­er know that you respect their opin­ion and their net­work. Example: Ask the read­er to refer two industry col­leagues for a reward.

Affiliate: I use Mailchimp as my default email list manager.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo has nothing to do with public relations, of course. I share for no other reason that I happen to enjoy photography. Call it an “ornamental distraction”—and a subtle reminder to appreciate nature.

The cover photo has


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