BlogMarketing PsychologyWhat is Foot in the Door Technique?

What is Foot in the Door Technique?

leg and door

When you put your foot in the door, you’re all the way through it. This persuasion technique is often used by door-to-door salesmen who often literally try to put their foot in our door. Although it’s not the most popular marketing strategy nowadays, this technique derived from social psychology is still relevant and useful.

So how does the foot in the door technique works? It’s about making a small request before making a larger request. It was proved that people are more likely to agree to do something for you when you’ve already made an initial request.

person at the door

How was the foot in the door technique discovered?

The first demonstration of its effectiveness was made by Freedman and Fraser (1966). They solicited the ladies of the house to agree to place in their front. The first demonstration of its effectiveness was made by Freedman and driving. Unfortunately, while the content was laudable, the board itself was so large and obnoxious that only 17% of the only 17% of those solicited agreed.

However, this percentage increased significantly when another preceded this large request, a small request made two weeks earlier by another person two weeks earlier, either for the placement of a small badge or a signature on a petition of appropriate content (which was agreed to by almost all people asked).

How does the foot in the door technique work?

Why does fulfilling a small request intensify submission to a later, larger request? One possible explanation is that you like the person you have already yielded to once – but a foot in the door also works if two different people make the first and second requests.

Another explanation is a change of attitude toward the issue requested, such as helping strangers in need. However, this is not satisfactory either because “foot in the door” is also effective when the first and the second request relate to completely different issues.

The most promising explanation is in terms of self-perception – as a result of fulfilling the first request, people begin to perceive themselves as generous or selfless. The decrease can explain the frequency of fulfilling the second request if the first request is accompanied by strong situational pressure.

This prevents changes in the way people perceive themselves because, according to the theory of self-perception, these pressures justify giving in to the first request.

The foot-in-the-door technique is also based on the idea of consistency. People are unlikely to contradict themselves in both behavior and beliefs. This implies that it will be effective as long as the request is kept consistent with or comparable to the initial minor ask. This, however, can be broadly explained by social influence, a pillar of social psychology.

Behavioral changes induced by the first request (i.e., an increase in the propensity to comply with the second request) are, however, more often observed than the changes in the way perceptions of self postulated as the reason for the former. However, the exact mechanism causing the “foot in the door” effect is still unexplored.


Foot in the door examples

From politics to non-profit, the foot in the door technique is ubiquitous. For example, a political candidate may request that people attending a rally wear a pin to support his campaign. He may later ask for donations for his campaign. A short health survey by a group of women might follow, followed by breast cancer screening if they agree.

A group of website users may agree to donate canned goods to a charity for disaster relief but are later requested to volunteer their time at the organization’s headquarters.

One of the most frequent online scenarios is seeking a subject’s email address and then selling them a larger project. Providing an email address is a small request that must be complied with. After that, the marketer can make a sales pitch.

For instance, you may ask the customer to read a blog article, leave a comment, share it on social media, go to a webinar, download a whitepaper, or request an ebook. Each of these is minor in terms of effort and expense.

However, performing certain tasks simply makes the person more likely to perform other activities, which are larger and costlier.

Is the foot in the door technique useful?

Even if door-to-door salespeople are less common now than in the 1960s, when the “foot-in-the-door” technique was initially studied, it remains a popular persuasion approach today and is used to persuade individuals to agree to a variety of actions that they might otherwise resist.

We have a dedicated article about persuasion.

Researchers discovered that a digital foot is just as good in practice as it is in theory. They emailed half of the participants for assistance with a file conversion issue, then followed up with an unrelated request to complete a survey. The other group received the questionnaire through email instead.

The response rate was quite low, with only 44 percent of the participants responding. Nevertheless, they found that his electronic foot-in-the-door approach is as effective as a face-to-face or phone interaction in terms of obtaining agreement.

How to use the foot in the door technique?

Online shops utilize mailing lists to repackage items to people who have previously visited their website on the internet. Businesses make a modest request of visitors, asking them to provide their email addresses to receive a newsletter hoping that such individuals will later agree to the more significant action of making a purchase.

In busy areas, salespeople frequently ask pedestrians a quick question to start a conversation. After they have signed up for a paid product, they inquire about discounts.

Utility companies frequently inquire about the service provider utilized by residents before demanding a long discussion. They attempt to persuade people to switch loyalties.



The scale of requests must be proportionate for the foot-in-the-door approach to work effectively. The first demand should be big enough for a person to think they are assisting the other person, yet not so huge that they refuse it. The foot-in-the-door technique is a sales approach that tries to persuade hesitant consumers.

On the other hand, there is a door-in-the-face technique. In contrast to the foot-in-the-door approach, it starts with a substantial demand that the person is likely to turn down. A subsequent, more realistic request is made after this, which may persuade the individual compared to the first.

We tackled the door in the face technique in a dedicated article.


The foot in the door technique is a sales approach that tries to persuade hesitant consumers. This technique starts with a substantial demand, which the individual may turn down.

A more reasonable request is made after this, and it may persuade the person when compared to their first offer. This tactic can also work online and offline, depending on what you’re selling or how you market your product/service.

We hope we’ve provided insight into how marketers can use social psychology principles in marketing for success!


Professional B2B copywriter with an SEO background. Zuza is obsessed with great-quality content that ranks on the first page of search engines.

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