Updated: Jul 15
Marketing relies on psychology to better understand, reach, and engage potential customers.
Let’s cover some psychology phenomena that impact marketing strategy and business operations.
Reciprocation: If you do a favor for someone, they are inclined to help you. Your favor could be a free sample or an industry insights report. Also, if you ask someone for a favor, you’ll have more success if you provide a reason for needing it. Most people will relate to your reason and be more inclined to help.
Commitment and Consistency: If you get someone to commit even a little bit, they will likely want to be consistent and keep engaging. Marketing may start with registration for an event, which can lead to an email campaign and other calls to action.
Contrast and Comparison: By first showing someone an extreme example, other examples will seem more reasonable. In other words, tasting a disgusting food first will cause you to appreciate your remaining meal better.
With pricing, if the first offer is outrageously high, the subsequent price will seem much lower by comparison. If you started with the second price, the buyer may feel it could still be lower.
Social Proof: If someone seems familiar, you are more inclined to help them. Generating familiarity is why case studies are so important.
“We use the actions of others to decide on proper
behavior for ourselves, especially when we view
those others as similar to ourselves.”
– Dr. Robert B. Cialdini
Liking: When you like someone, you want them to succeed. Appreciation often starts with finding things in common to build a relationship, ranging from clothes to shared experiences.
Authority: Your company is looking to establish a position of authority through status. For startups, that may be achieved by adding advisors or board members with strong reputations to your company.
Another approach is to act as an authority by conceding a little to gain a lot. For instance, you may inform prospects when they would be better off going to your competitors (e.g., their budget is too low) which may make them eager to return when their budget increases.
Scarcity: We are more motivated by the fear of losing something than the joy of gaining something.
Pro Tip: Exploding offers—offer that only last for a limited time—can be effective because the buyer becomes motivated by the fear of missing a discount or access.
Key Takeaway: Knowing these psychology principles helps to build positive marketing campaigns and business practices.
This article draws on the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition by Dr. Robert B Cialdini. He has a newer version titled Influence, New and Expanded: The Psychology of Persuasion also worth checking out.
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