As anyone who’s ever seen an episode of Mad Men knows, psychology plays a big part in advertising. After all, the purpose of marketing is to subtly alter consumers’ behaviors so that they come to believe one product is somehow intrinsically better than another. Here are a few different ways you can use certain psychological principles to enhance your marketing efforts.

The other white meat

A solid psychological principle that you can use to connect with customers is repositioning the competition. As this Fast Company article points out, there’s a reason why Jif peanut butter uses the slogan “choosy moms choose Jif” and every Dollar Shave Club commercial highlights the somewhat exaggerated difficulty of purchasing a disposable razor. By repositioning the competition as being inferior in some vague nonspecific way, you’ll also highlight your brand as the better qualitative choice. Repositioning the competition requires a decent amount of subtlety, but if you pull it off, it will have a big impact on how customers perceive your brand.

Anchors away

Do you ever wonder why Amazon displays an item’s MSRP or list price, its price on Amazon and the percentage of money you’ll be saving by buying it through the online sales leader? Amazon and many other companies do this because of the psychological principle of anchoring, which explains how we tend to make decisions about something based on the first piece of information we learn. So, if you saw a video game advertised for $20, you might not feel compelled to make a purchase. However, if you saw that same game, normally priced at $40, now being sold for $20, you’d feel a sense of urgency about purchasing it to take advantage of what might be a temporary discount. The fact that the video games publisher might have simply changed the list price for the video game probably wouldn’t even enter your mind.

Give a little to get a little

When someone does something nice for us, we feel the need to reciprocate that kind gesture. You can utilize the psychological principle of reciprocity to instill a sense of brand loyalty in your customers by giving them some low value item free. As this Econsultancy piece points out, using reciprocity in your marketing efforts works even better when the item in question is branded, like a coffee mug or USB drive. That way every time one of your customers gets a cup of coffee, they’ll be reminded of your brand’s existence and its generosity.


This article was written by Mario McKellop for Small Business Pulse


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