Contrary to common belief, using psychology in marketing is not in itself unethical. When done with your customers' best interest in mind, good consumer psychology is a good way to help people make the right decisions for themselves. It also makes them feel good about interacting with your business and buying from you.
It's only unethical if you're using it to manipulate or trick people into buying things they won't want or need, or if you're selling services and products that are not as described.
Marketing psychology helps you better understand your customers
Having a deep understanding of your customers is vital to the success of your business. Marketing psychology is a tool that can help you do that.
It allows you to:
- Understand and relate to your customers
- Give your customers what they want, in the way they want it
- Tailor your services and products to match your customers' needs
- Offer an exceptional customer experience
- Stay relevant to your market
- Command authority
Here are 7 ways to incorporate psychology in marketing - ethically:
1. Build and maintain trust
Potential customers need to be able to trust you before parting with their hard-earned cash. Here are just some of the ways you can create trust and build loyalty:
- A professional website that looks trustworthy
- Show testimonials and reviews from previous customers
- Offer a guarantee
- Make your website and online payment methods secure
- Show human faces instead of being just a faceless company
- Provide helpful content
- Avoid using spammy tactics
- Provide an exceptional customer service
- Deal with complaints promptly and avoid blaming the customers
2. Delight your customers
Everyday life primarily consists of mundane, repetitive, boring and even stressful tasks. So we tend to remember moments of surprises, joy and happiness. You can use this psychological fact to delight your customers.
For example, loyalty schemes as we know them are predictable for the customer, and even mildly insulting. If you've ever taken part in one you'll know that you usually have to spend a lot of money to get a small benefit like a free drink, or a 1% discount.
So what can you do when you want to give back to your customers in a way that will make it unforgettable?
Studies show that random rewards are much more appealing than predictable rewards. Interest in random factors lasts longer than the predictable, which means that your customers will be delighted by random but valuable rewards.
In some popular restaurants you get a free drink after several purchases, which builds up to free food - it's a reasonable but rather forgettable offer. But if a restaurant offers random 'prizes' to their customers (for example, a free drink, a free side order, or a 20% discount on the whole bill), not only will they be seen as different from other restaurants, it'll also make it fun to eat there.
In the same manner, a personal thank-you card, or a special acknowledgement to those customers who do spend a lot with you will make more of a difference than a free drink.
3. Give your customers challenges
According to marketing psychology studies, people remember things better if they have interacted fully with them or, specifically, if they've taken action on something they've learned.
Which is why setting up challenges for your audience is a great way to encourage your customers to experience your products or services, while generating some results for themselves. They will value the fact that you set out to coach them on something for free, and remember how you helped them get results for a problem they were facing.
When they're ready to invest in coaching, a training course or anything else you offer they'll have confidence in your ability to serve them in the way they need.
4. Pack emotions in your marketing messages
Marketing psychology can show you what words and phrases to use to motivate your customers rather than repel them. It can also encourage a deeper engagement between you and your customers, which in turn will keep your customers happily invested in your products or services.
Rather than just telling somebody that you have an offer, use emotion to enhance the desire. Here's perhaps the most famous marketing campaign about associating a product with an emotion...
"In the 1930s, diamond sales in the United States were at an all time low. They were seen as an extravagance for the wealthy, and sales, already declining for more than two decades, had plummeted during the Great Depression.
De Beers was in the unique position of having to create demand for a product that hadn't been widely marketed before.
A new form of advertising was born. The brilliant concept was to create an emotional link to diamonds, the sentiment being that love, like diamonds, is eternal.
A diamond became a symbol of enduring love weaving itself into popular culture and inspiring books, films and songs."
And who hasn't heard of the line "A diamond is forever"?
5. Build up customer commitment
Marketing psychology shows us that customers invest more when they start with a smaller commitment first.
For example, people may be reluctant to buy a $100 product from you. However, once they've purchased a $25 product, they will be much more likely to invest in the more expensive product.
You can easily use this knowledge to your advantage by creating entry-level products or services that lead to higher-priced versions or models.
6. Lead customers where you want them to go
Website layout, choice of words, placement of buttons, use of white space, even down to the colours and fonts you use, all have a part to play in directing your customers to where you want them to go.
For example, if a web page is predominantly black and white, then a button in a bold colour will stand out and draw your visitors' attention, making it more likely that they'll notice it and click on it.
7. Play around with creating appealing pricing structures and offers
Psychological pricing appeals to the buyer's emotion, and can be used to increase sales. A common pricing strategy is to combine two or more services or products together at a reduced price. Adding a free 'too-good-to-resist' bonus to the package will make it even more appealing.
A word of caution here: Avoid option overload, where you're giving your customers too many options to choose from, and they end up facing "analysis paralysis", which can result in overwhelm and an inability to make a decision.
Psychology and marketing go hand in hand. By understanding the mind of your target audience, you can create irresistible content and solutions they can't pass up. Used ethically, marketing psychology can give your business a competitive edge and help you gain new customers that will become loyal fans.