Utilising psychology in marketing to influence your clients

It is one thing to invest in quality poster printing; it is another to print the right thing to impact on the psychology of your clients. Marketing psychology is about getting into the minds of your customers.  The task is to figure out how they think and how you can convince them to act in your favour.

The study of the mind and behaviour has come a long way in a couple of centuries since it was born as the academic area of study called psychology.  There is the most fantastic understanding of why we act the way we do in our daily life, with applications in counselling through to human resource management.

Here we explore the intersection between marketing and psychology.  You will see that they are not so far apart in their interests.

Point one: relate to your customer

You need to understand the motivations of your customers to be able to influence their behaviour.  There is a phenomenon called group favouritism.  This is where people are more likely to do something that most other people have done.  This phenomenon is a gift to marketers.  If you say 75% of people bought a red car, then you are going to increase the desire in the customer to do the same.

Point two: begin small

Salespeople are well aware of the importance of starting small.  They would know it as the “foot-in-the-door technique” – or get one small purchase or task from the customer to engage them. Then, they can build more significant purchases.  Those people who have agreed to a small request are more likely to agree to a more significant request when you go back for a second time.

This phenomenon has become known as upselling in the sales world.  It is the idea that a person may first buy a cleaning cloth from you, then maybe a mop and bucket and soon they will be buying an expensive vacuum.  Each time the customer commits to you, there is a trust built that encourages them to invest more in your company the next time. Results from a study by Freedman and Fraser (1966) found the people were three more times likely to agree if you start with a small request before the more significant request.

Point three: reward schemes work

The reward cards used in coffee shops and some restaurants have stopped working.  People are annoyed by the number of reward cards they are expected to carry in their wallet, and now on their phone.  Even the points cards in shops are now a burden rather than a bonus.  With everyone offering these cards, the customer has become fatigued and cynical.  However, reward behaviour does work.  Positivists call this conditioning.

So, if rewards work, but there is reward fatigue – what is the answer.  Studies suggest that random reward schemes are better. Skinner, a founding father of psychology, claimed that rewarding people randomly had a more lasting impact on the individual than rewards on a fixed schedule.  There is always a possibility that each time you engage, you will be rewarded. Think about Willy Wonka’s chocolate bar golden ticket.  There was a possibility of a reward every time you purchased the chocolate bar.

Point Four: The most appealing pitch

Your customer is not so sophisticated when it comes to working out savings.  They will think about the gains they make in relative terms.  So, if they save £10 on a coat that costs £100 and £10 on a pair of trousers that costs £20, the customer will choose in favour of the trousers.  Even though they save the same amount with each purchase – the relative savings on the trousers is much more appealing.

This might seem obvious.  However, it provides an opportunity to express savings in the most appealing way to the client.  They need to perceive they are saving more when they might just be saving the same.  Come up with a sales pitch that considers that the customer wants a win.  Let them feel like they have struck a good deal.

Point Five: Senses work best

Appealing to the logic and the rational is ineffective.  Appealing to the senses makes the customer experience an emotional one, and marketing is more powerful.  Our senses release all sorts of hormones around our body that promote a response.  If we see something that is shocking, we will have a surge of adrenalin.  The adrenalin encourages our body to react to this shock.  Equally, we are fond of dopamine hits.  Therefore, any appeal to the sense that promotes pleasure will encourage us to repeat this experience.

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