Rebecca Purrington
Rebecca Purrington 27 February 2020
Categories Advertising

The Importance of Understanding Human Psychology in Marketing

It can be difficult to stand out to your customers in a world saturated with brands. Learn how psychology can influence brand loyalty and purchasing decisions and help your brand stand out from the rest.

In a world saturated with brands, it is becoming more difficult to stand out and create memorable experiences for customers. While marketing strategies come and go, one thing remains the same: human psychology. By understanding psychology and the factors that impact brand loyalty and purchasing decisions, you can help your brand stand out from the rest. Let's dive into the psychological factors that could make or break your business.

1. Elicit an Emotional Response

Most of the time, any buying decision — whether it is related to major purchases such as cars and homes or everyday items such as groceries — has an element of emotion attached to it. Studies have shown that successful marketing appeals to consumers' emotional and psychological needs. In other words, demonstrating how a product or service will make your customers' lives better is more likely to be successful than simply explaining what it is and how it works.

2. Play With Priming

Have you ever played a game in which you say a word and the person with whom you are playing says the first thought that comes to his or her mind? That's how priming works. The process subjects people to a stimulus, which automatically primes their response to that stimulus.

Perhaps someone says the word "red," then the next options are "ocean" or "apple." People will probably pick "apple" because the fruit is semantically related to the color red.

When it comes to digital marketing, the subtleties of priming can go a long way. A well-designed logo can automatically be associated with high-quality products and services. A great website can lead visitors toward the path of remembering certain key elements about your brand — and maybe even influence their buying behaviors.

For example, if a website is reminiscent of money because it is green and has pennies on the background, people will likely consider the financial aspects of the brand before making a purchase. This might mean they associate the brand with being worth more because money was the priming force, or maybe they just do more weighing of their budgetary constraints before making a purchase — but the focus is likely to be on the monetary aspects in some way.

3. Call Upon a Little Healthy Competition

People like getting in on something elite — it makes them feel special. That's why phrases such as "act now!" and "limited-time offer" have withstood the test of time.

By inviting a bit of exclusivity into the mix, you can promote a particular product or service by feeding the competitive drive of your customers. People who are motivated by competition will want to feel like they're part of the "in" crowd and are likely to spend a little more money to achieve elite status.

4. Do Not Be Afraid to Highlight Your Flaws

Consumers are often quite skeptical of marketing campaigns. Why? Because they've learned to identify false advertising when they see it. To be a leader in your field, try owning up to your faults. You can raise your credibility ante by advertising what didn't go quite right (and explaining what you did to correct the error in a way that improves your customers' perceptions of your brand).

Volkswagen was famous for this. In one of its ad campaigns in the 1960s, the "Lemon" copy began as follows: "This Volkswagen missed the boat. The chrome strip on the glove compartment is blemished and must be replaced. Chances are you wouldn't have noticed it; Inspector Kurt Kroner did." While the ad shocked audiences at the time, it also got people talking about Volkswagen and reassured consumers that the company does everything it can to produce top-of-the-line automobiles for its customers.

The takeaway? Using claims such as "100% guarantee" and other "100%" phrases may trigger suspicion in your customers. Instead of trying to paint a perfect picture of your company, go with a realistic viewpoint that is relatable to consumers. Flaunting flaws with a little humor and sass can win points in the long run.

5. Reposition Yourself Above the Competition

What do you do when the marketplace is so overcrowded that you can't seem to get a leg up on the competition? If your customers are already occupied by your competitors' brands, it is time to use that knowledge to your advantage.

Why are you better than the other guy? What characteristics and attributes of your brand should make people pick your company over another? Once you have identified your competitive advantage, you can home in on the attributes that will make people think of you instead of the other brands.

For example, in the 1970s, 7Up took to the task of changing its customers' perspectives about what soft drinks look and taste like by becoming the “Uncola” that pitted itself against Coca Cola in a humorous boxing match.

Here's the key: The campaign was careful not to be negative toward the competition; rather, it simply showcased the qualities of 7Up that would make it better for consumers within its target audience.

6. Introduce Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (also known as FUD in the marketing world) are used to make consumers stop, think, and change their behaviors. For obvious reasons, people don't want to be afraid. Uncovering truths that condemn the competition can work well in your favor if the campaign is executed correctly. It is best to be careful if you are using this tactic, however, and be sure to have facts that back your claims. Otherwise, you are breaking the rule of trying to gain credibility among your constituents.

Marketing is an essential part of the business puzzle, but great advertisements and messages can't simply appear out of thin air; they need to be backed by science, and that science centers around human psychology. Once you understand what compels consumers to make the decisions they do, you will be more equipped to create digital marketing campaigns that target the behaviors that could impact your bottom line.

Author bio: Rebecca Purrington is a Promotional Products Expert with Crestline Custom Promotional Products. She has more than five years of consultative sales experience in the industry and holds degrees in both Social/Behavioral Sciences and Business Management.

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