How learning about the psychology of persuasion can help you succeed.
A customer comes in.
“Excuse me sir,” he says to Sid, “how much for this suit?”
“Let me ask Harry,” says Sid. “Hey Harry, how much for the black three-button suit?”
“For that beautiful suit?” shouts Harry from the back, “$42.”
Sid, hand cupped to his ear, looks confused for just a second. Then he turns to the customer and say, “Harry says this one is $22.”
The customer, eager to capitalize on the ‘mistake,’ plunks down his money and make a quick exit with his new purchase.
Now, we don’t know if Sid can really hear well or not. There’s even a good chance — let’s say “high likelihood” — that Sid and Harry meant to sell the suit for $22 all along.
But you get the idea.
Marketers use psychology all the time to convince people and compel them to buy their products. Whether it’s about selling a potential investor on your billion dollar idea or convincing a potential client to buy your product; understanding a bit of behavioral psychology can go a long way towards your success.
Let me explain why.
Almost all species have certain psychological trigger. Regardless of how evolved we think we are; our way of life has conditioned us to be privy to an obvious number of these triggers; which if leveraged right can help you win big!
The Decoy Effect
Providing a less appealing option for the same price compels customers to quickly select between the other two, or in this scenario —go straight for the 32GB option at $299!
The same technique was used by the old subscription page from The Economist.
They offered 3 different types of subscriptions:
Web Subscription — $59
Print Subscription — $125
Web and Print Subscription — $125
And here are the results when this phenomenon was tested on a few MIT students:
Web Subscription — $59 (16 students)
Print Subscription — $125 (0 students)
Web and Print Subscription — $125 (84 students)
(Total revenue: $11,444)
Most of them went for the dominating third option at $125!
You might also want to know the results when the decoy option was removed:
Web Subscription — $59 (68 students)
Web and Print Subscription — $125 (32 students)
(Total revenue: $8,012)
The Mere-exposure effect
Ever noticed those TV ADs that seem to be playing over and over again on every channel you switch to? You’d guess it’s a waste of money after the first few times someone sees it right?
According to this effect; the more times a person is exposed to a stimuli (TV ADs in this case) the easier it is processed in their mind — which automatically turns it into a positive effect associated with the stimuli.
So basically the more you see these repetitive TV ADs the more you come to like the brands or products associated with it!
It’s the effect of dunking your hand in warm water and then into a bowl of room-temperature-water, and somehow your mind makes the second body of water feel colder than it actually is! Your mind basically used the warm water as a standard to measure the temperature of the room-temperature-water.
This phenomenon comes into play in real life when you first sell a person on an expensive product (like a suit) and then you offer to sell them a somewhat over-priced secondary item ( let’s say a shirt) — which to them would feel like a good deal compared to the much more expensive suit they just paid for.
Businesses capitalize on this by first selling the main product and then pitching other accessories and ‘add-ons’ as separate units.
This is far too obvious to even be on the list, but — people are more likely to say yes if they like you. That’s why brands hire celebrities to endorse their products — people automatically transfer their love onto the brands being endorsed!
A scenario in which this might be useful would be a casual business meeting — where instead of jumping straight to business, you first indulge in some chit-chat; discuss something the other person likes and relate to them. Then later on when you pitch them on your business idea or sale they’d be more likely to say yes because they like you!
I think the most common of these triggers is reciprocity. When someone does something for you, most people automatically feel the obligation to return the favor.
In the marketing world this could be giving away a free sample; thereby making people feel obligated to purchase the full product. I’m sure you would have experienced this in supermarkets where they sample small cubes of cheese or bites to customers, and more often than not they leave with a purchase of the full product — sometimes even when they didn’t necessarily like the sample!
The same is done online with things like giving away free content or with ‘Free Gift With Purchase’ offers.
Reciprocity is a very strong psychological trigger — it makes people feel as though they are in-debt, and a study has even shown that the act of reciprocity is likely to work regardless of whether the person likes you or not!
Did I get you interested in the psychology of persuasion? Want to learn more? I recommend Influence — The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. It’s a terrific read for anyone interested on the topic!
Last of all: remember your ethics!
There’s a line. So keep in mind to use these tactics ethically and with respect.