Psychological Principles and Marketing

05/25/2017 01:33 pm ET Updated May 26, 2017

As a marketer, you should know that capturing the attention of people and getting them to convert has a lot to do with psychology. Yes! Every true marketer must strive to get a better understanding of how people think or act the way they do. Now I know that a vast majority of marketers are not psychologists, but one of the surest ways to engage your customers is by integrating some psychological principles into your marketing campaigns. This is exactly how smart and skillful marketers engage people to purchase their products with little to no effort.

Here's the deal:

If you're looking to attract, convince and convert more people, you'll have to understand how people operate and that's exactly where psychology comes into play. So, taking your time to understand some key principles of psychology can do your marketing a whole lot of good since you'll likely be engaging with the right audience at every point in time. You should also learn the 16 personality types of people so you can know the exact kind of customers you're dealing with in the course of your marketing campaigns — Mark Wolf did a great job of linking these personality types to specific advertising strategies, so be sure to check it out!

You should also listen to this amazing podcast by Roger Dooley — he talks about some awesome neuromarketing ideas that are sure to kick your sales effort up a notch.

Okay, let's get back to the business of the day! At this point, we're going to explore some powerful psychological principles that you can use to attract, engage and compel customers to buy your products and services. Once you read the principles I'm about to share, you'll understand how you can match customers to valuable products that actually meets their unique needs, and that's the ultimate goal of marketing!

1. Reciprocity

For starters, reciprocity is one of the most popular psychological principles in marketing. It's more of a typical human behavior; we tend to feel obligated to give back to those who have given to us.

There are quite a number of ways to take advantage of reciprocity. As a matter of fact, reciprocity is an important part of content marketing, and the good thing is that you don't have to go through a lot of hassles to give something away. For instance, a valuable e-book, free gifts, deep discounts, or even your expertise in a difficult subject can trigger reciprocity. All these and more are sure to help boost sales mainly because clients who received free stuff from you are more likely to feel indebted to you and eventually buy from you.

The bottom line? Always ensure that you're giving away the free content or product before asking for something in return.

2. Priming

Ever heard of priming? For the most part, priming is an unconscious form of human memory, which is primarily concerned with the perceptual identification of words and objects. It has to do with activating specific associations in the human memory just before carrying out a task. For example, a person who sees the word 'yellow' will quickly recognize the word 'banana.' Why does this happen? Well, you guessed it right, it happens because the words yellow and banana have a strong link in memory.

How does it relate to marketing?

It typically points to the fact that customers can be interested in one brand or product over another by simply talking about the quality of that particular product or brand.

So, making use of subtle cues such as pictures, text, and sound — can subconsciously affect the way and manner in which customers react to a marketing message. Doing this could help your site visitors remember relevant information about your brand and hopefully, influence their buying behavior.

3. The Decoy Effect

This is more like using a bait to influence the final decision of your customer. The Decoy Effect triggers customers to change their preferences between two initial options when a third (less appealing option) added. That third option is the "decoy."

An excellent example of the decoy effect can be seen in the experiment conducted by Joel Huber, a professor at Duke University. In 2007, he set up an experiment where subjects were presented with two choices: a nearby 3-star restaurant and a 5-star restaurant that was located at a faraway distance. The subjects chose between the two options in a relatively even manner. However, when he included the third option, that's a 4-star restaurant that was much farther away than the previous options, many more subjects opted for the 5-star restaurant. This simply implies that the third option made the 5-star restaurant more appealing.

In marketing, the decoy effect tends to be more apparent with price points. For example, a software package may come with two pricing options where one has a lower price with very few features, and the other is had a higher price with more amenities. Now, with only two options, the higher priced item is bound to look more expensive. However, if the company adds a third higher priced option, it'll ultimately drive more sales for the middle priced package, especially among customers who don't fancy the features of the third package.

The bottom line? Just be sure to consider adding a third option if you're looking to boost conversions on a landing page with two options. Doing this could boost the conversion rate of the option you actually want people to take.

4. Social Influence

This concept emphasizes that people are more likely to do things if others have successfully done the same. As a matter of fact, a person may be interested in a decision but will still be hesitant unless others do whatever they want to do before them.

One of the easiest ways to take advantage of social influence is on your blog. Be sure to add social sharing and follow buttons and let it display the number of followers you have as well as the number of shares each piece of content has. As long as those numbers are displayed, and you already have people who love sharing your posts, other visitors who see your posts later will be more interested in sharing, and that's great!

5. Loss Aversion

Loss Aversion is actually based on the psychological principle which says that we tend to value what we have than what we have. In other words, we tend to feel the negative effect of loss in a much stronger than we feel the positive effect of gain, so we ultimately try to avoid loss.

You can use this principle in several ways when it comes to selling your products. Loss aversion should work great with freemium products and increased product adoption.

So how can you go about it? Well, it's an excellent idea to provide access to a free version of your product for a specific period of time. Now after the time has elapsed, you can remove the feature and allow it to be accessible to those who become paying customers. So, as long as that product is valuable, your customers would not want to lose it; that's the moral of the story!

6. The Anchoring Effect

For starters, the anchoring effect in marketing takes advantage of the flaw within the human mind. Most people tend to base decisions on the initial information they receive; this is exactly why you find it hard to resist a sale at your favorite clothing store.

Let's assume that your favorite store typically sells jeans for $60, but happen to find them on sale for $30 on a particular day, how would that make you feel? I'm pretty sure you'll be eager to get a pair or two considering the price slash. However, other people who typically shop for $20 jeans won't be impressed with the discount since it's even higher than the regular jeans they buy.

It's very important for marketers to engage the principle of anchoring especially when you're planning to sell a product. It's crucial to state the initial price of the product (this is more like the anchor) as well as the sales price. It's also great to let customers know how much discount they'll receive with the sale.

7. Scarcity

As humans, we tend to have the need to buy more of something when the supply is limited in quantity. Besides the urgent need to buy, scarcity also increases the value of the product because the supply is limited. If you're looking to use this principle, you have to take your time to word it or your efforts will be fruitless.

8. Verbatim Effect

The verbatim effect emphasizes that customers are more likely to remember the gist of your content rather than the lengthy version of it. This means that readers are more likely to remember the headline of your content and not all the long details of what the blog is about. As humans, we tend to be headline hungry; meaning that readers are to share your content by only looking at the title. What you should know is that the verbatim effect is huge and it can have a significant impact on how your content performs.

So how can you take advantage of this principle?

Well. I recommend you pay more attention to perfecting your headline. The headline should not be only search and share friendly, but you should also ensure that it gives an accurate description of what's contained in your article. Doing this will keep your content at the forefront of your reader's mind, and that's a big part of the plan!

9. Clustering

The very first thing you should know is that people tend to have a very limited amount of space in their short term memory. This is exactly why people tend to rely on clustering to remember things that matter to them. The whole idea has to do with grouping similar items into specific categories so remembering them would be a breeze.

As a marketer, you have to keep clustering in mind when creating content. One of the surest ways to create your content to increase memory retention is by grouping similar topics together. So how can you do this? Well, you could do this with different header sizes or under numbered bullet points; just stick with what works for you. The best part is that your content will be much easier to scan and it's sure to stick in the minds of your audience, and that's exactly what you want!

10. Customer Focus

The final psychological principle you ought to keep in mind is that buyers are always thinking of themselves. So, irrespective of the products or services they're planning to buy, they're more concerned about what it will do for them. Always ensure that your marketing efforts stay in line with this principle or you risk losing your message.

In other words, try as much as possible to keep everything focused on your customers and their needs, and not just on your brand and its exceptional products. You should always do this even when you're talking about your brand and its offerings; try to bring it back around and emphasize how you'll be able to help them with their needs. Doing this is huge!

And that's it! These are ten psychological principles that are sure to fine-tune your marketing efforts and help you resonate more with your customers and meet their needs. Just be sure to pick some of these psychological principles and start applying them to your marketing your marketing campaigns; who knows, you might end up closing in more sales than you ever thought possible. Good luck!

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