Consumers are clear-minded and logical when making their buying decisions. Consumers are fickle-minded and unpredictable. Both statements are correct. That’s why marketers, PR agencies, advertisers, and business owners are increasingly using Neuromarketing and marketing psychology to make consumers fall and stay in love with their brands.
Put differently: if you know how and why people think and act the way they do, you can improve your marketing and PR. Here are 21 important marketing psychological principles that can supercharge your marketing and influence consumers to fall in love with your products or services.
The 20 principles of marketing psychology
- Action paralysis principle
People commonly second guess their own behavior, especially if they’re not sure how their decision will impact them or people close to them. This is called the action paralysis principle.
If you’re trying to trigger someone into action, clearly emphasize that their action will make a difference. For example, instead of just saying ‘buy now’, you can say ‘buy now and improve your health today.’ The lesson here is that whenever your customers or prospective customers have reason to question their decisions, provide a good reason for them to convert or make a purchase.
- Anchoring Effect
The anchoring effect is the principle that people tend to unconsciously latch onto the first fact they hear, basing their decision-making on that fact … whether it’s accurate or not. This phenomenon is called anchoring. The anchoring effect can work for you or against you. It’s one of the most important effects in cognitive psychology.
The urgency principle relates to our fear-of-missing-out (FOMO). When something is urgent, people are more likely to act on it. This holds true even if the sense of urgency is artificially created (such as an expiring sale).
- Emotional marketing
Emotional marketing refers to marketing and advertising that primarily uses emotional appeals to make your customers and prospective customers notice, remember, share, and buy your company’s products or services.
The psychology of persuasion in emotional marketing is very powerful. There are many different emotions but eight primary ones: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy.
- Commitment and Consistency
As a psychological principle, commitment and consistency refer to the choices people make to believe more strongly in the decisions we’ve already made in order to avoid cognitive dissonance.
This is clearly evident in conversations on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And, it’s also present in free trials because once we start using a product and invest time, we often tend to believe that the product helps us.
- Decoy effect
The decoy effect (also called the asymmetrical dominance effect) is a cognitive bias that occurs when people change their preference between two options when a third, asymmetrically dominated option is presented.
Put differently: when there is a third important choice (the decoy), a consumer is more likely to choose the more expensive of the first two options. The decoy effect is specially powerful in digital marketing when it comes to pricing.
- Color psychology
Color has a deep and often subconscious effect on our behavior. In marketing and branding, color is often used to persuade or influence us. In fact, research shows that anticipating your customers’ reaction to a color and its relationship to your brand is more important than the actual color itself.
- Framing principle
Framing is the act of manipulating context to make consumers more receptive to your product or service. Our brains take in all outside information and then filter to determine which bits are important. This means that context is just as important to the decision-making process as your product or service itself.
- Gestalt principles
When we look at the world, our minds strive to make sense of what we see. The gestalt principles describe the different ways that our minds perceive that order. Among other things, the gestalt principles describe when and how our minds see different visual elements as being part of a greater whole.
There are ten primary Gestalt principles: simplicity, figure-ground, proximity, similarity, common fate, symmetry, continuity, closure, common region, and element connectedness.
- Information gap theory
The information-gap theory posits that when someone has a gap in their knowledge on a topic they care about, they will take action to find out what they want to know.
Marketers use the information-gap theory in content and social media marketing. For example, headlines such as ‘How to do something’, ‘The secret to XYZ’, or ‘What you must know about…’ are all used to excite our curiosity and make us want to learn more about the topic.
- Law of least effort
Most people are inherently lazy, and if not lazy, want to do things efficiently. They want to take the path of least effort or resistance. This is called the law of least effort.
There are many ways you can use the law of least effort in marketing. For example, If you operate a restaurant, put your phone number in the top right corner of every page on your site. And if you want people to email you instead of calling, make your email address highly visible instead.
That’s also why many companies offer a free trial – it’s much easier to make decisions when you don’t need to pay anything to try a product or service and simply sign up for free trials.
We like people who are similar to us, who pay us compliments, and who cooperate with us towards mutual goals. This is the psychological liking principle.
Consider Apple stores. It is no coincidence that this high-end, high-tech store is staffed with reps in jeans and a t-shirt instead of traditional suits and ties. Apple uses the liking principle to its advantage. This strategy says: I am a human being and I am like you. I am casual and approachable. My products are for you.
- Loss aversion
Loss aversion refers to the tendency of people to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Studies show that loss aversion is twice as powerful psychologically as the acquisition of something. Just the idea of a loss is enough to create a strong reaction. Loss aversion is a powerful motivator in all aspects of life, including consumer behavior.
- Mere exposure theory
According to the mere exposure theory, repetition creates familiarity and familiarity is good. Mere exposure theory posits that the more people see something, the more they will like it. Apparently, the simple act of repeated exposure automatically triggers an increased positive association in our brains.
- Paradox of choice
As the number of choices increases, we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates us and creates confusion and distress.
You can reduce the paradox of choice by removing the mental friction caused by presenting too many choices. Focus your call to action on the single most valuable request you can make. Consider: what is your business’s most valuable call to action? That’s the one to feature.
Priming is the process of presenting someone with a word, image (or sentence) that prepares them to be more receptive to a particular point of view. Priming can influence action as well as thought.
It’s possible to prime someone to say ‘Yes.’ This specific form of priming is often called the ‘Foot-in-Door’ method. This is the technique of priming consumers with small asks (such as signing up for a free e-letter) to prepare them to be more receptive to larger asks (like buying a subscription to a paid newsletter).
People feel an obligation to do something for you when you’ve done something for them. This is known as the reciprocity principle.
For example, you should avoid the urge to push for a quick sale – nurture the relationship instead.
People’s attention is drawn to the thing that is the most relevant to them at that moment. The salience principle is seen in things like the ubiquitous up-sell during the checkout process on a website.
People tend to take the path of least resistance and seek out the most important (or salient) thing for them when they arrive on a website. Designers can take advantage of this by knowing what people are looking for and then arranging the page to group similar things close to that primary goal.
Scarcity marketing is a marketing technique based on the principle that people want what is difficult to get. Scarcity marketing thrives on a members-only attitude. Scarcity is an effective strategy for brands to create a strong buzz on social media.
- Social proof
Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people are unable to determine the proper behavior and instead, assume that people around them know more about the current situation and behave like the other people. Simply put: we want to know what others are watching, buying, wearing, and experiencing — and this social proof ultimately influences our decisions to do the same.