6 Powerful Ways Marketers Can Use Psychology to Improve Content

Being a marketer is not easy. You need to wear several hats to create that perfect selling proposition – you need to have the understanding of the product manager, the content team, your sales guys, and even the data people to add that new perspective in positioning, pricing and placement. A good marketer is always on the lookout for a spark of insight about their target audience that can help them create the right messaging for the product. This insight comes from a deep understanding of their psyche – knowing which statement is most likely to tug their heartstrings and push them off an indecisive fence and become a customer.

While you may already be applying a lot of psychology lessons to connect with your target audience, here are a few that we found comes in handy:


1. Emotional marketing

Has an ad left you feeling so emotional that it has affected the way you perceive the brand? Sometimes these emotions are powerful enough to make a consumer spur the buying decision before the rational brain kicks in to understand the product features or price. If such an emotional buy is then ratified with a good product, it results in winning over a loyal customer.

A great example is the Nike Dream Crazier women ad. That and several in the genre that tugs on an emotion. The ad never once tries to sell Nike or explain the product features or mention the price.

The intent of the ad is to appeal to the emotions of women athletes. The brand demonstrates that it ‘knows’ you. It ‘feels’ you. And it is one standing by as a silent supporter in your struggles. Of course, women will try out the shoes and buy them for the quality they offer. Not that rival brands may be any less in quality. That’s where the emotional marketing works and creates a differentiator pull of brand affinity.


2. Provide social proof

Social selling is new-age marketing. From using influencers to sell your wares to providing the opportunity for reviews, testimonials and other user-generated content, the awareness and selling proposition brought out via social proof is more powerful than a brand peddling its value proposition. The case from social proof comes from the fact that we want to emulate the behaviours of the people we trust and follow.





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Although many industries have adopted social selling, it works really well for travel and fashion. Having an influencer or customer wear your label and tag you often becomes a more powerful reason to buy than other factors. Seeing beautiful destinations visited by someone in your peer group gives better validation to your own choices.

Check out the top 10 travel influencers of India in this piece, their brand marketing tie-ups and how they have benefited the advertisers.


3. Grounded Cognition

Before we continue, take a minute to watch this Nescafe Gold video.


We have to admit it left us with goosebumps. Would I buy the coffee because of this ad?

Probably not.

When the decision making happens on the supermarket shelf, we will look at blend and aroma than the emotional appeal.

Then why did Nescafe decide to create this ad?

That’s because this ad takes the storytelling approach that almost makes you feel standing in place of the man in the stadium. You’ll feel the anxiety of the protagonist almost imagining who in your friends and loved ones will be left standing if you were to ask these questions. This coupled with the product cut ads did the trick for the brand.


4. Paradox of Choice

The common experiment quoted to demonstrate this marketing psychology is the one conducted by Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at the University of Colombia and the author of ‘The art of choosing’.

In a California gourmet market, the professor and her assistants set up a booth of jams and switched from a selection of 24 to 6 jams every hour. Here’s the math:

No. of people who sampled the larger assortment: 60%
No. of people who bought after sampling the larger assortment: 3%

No. of people who sampled the smaller assortment: 40%
No. of people who bought after sampling the smaller assortment: 30%

The other appending factor is the lack of information in the choices. If one variety of jam gave out information on being from an organic source or having more nutrient value for children, it could easily tip the scales of choice.

Choices can also be used to tip the scale to your advantage. Check out the choices offered below for a women’s magazine:

  1. 1 year subscription: INR 399
  2. 1 year subscription with a monthly mystery box of make-up from leading brands: INR 1499

The difference in the values are too high to make the decision easy. What if you now introduced something that could tip the scales in the favour of one choice?

  1. 1 year subscription: INR 399
  2. 1 year subscription and a bi-monthly mystery box of makeup from leading brands: INR 1299
  3. 1 year subscription with a monthly mystery box of make-up from leading brands: INR 1499

You’ll notice that the 2nd choice is a dummy one introduced by marketers to simplify the choice. No one will go for it when the difference between the two is just INR 200 and you get an additional 6 mystery boxes for it. That’s how you can use the paradox of choice to your advantage.


5. Loss Aversion Theory


FOMO or Fear of missing out is real. It is one of the most common psychology theories put out by marketers. Other people are thinner, more beautiful, have happier families, travel to exotic destinations, have instagrammable food and in general live a better life because of the brands they choose.

The fear of not living the life of their dreams and having products, services and experiences that fill the void often drive customers to take decisions that are beyond the economic rational.

Take parents, for example, who are the most easily targeted segment for FOMO. Tell them that other children are growing ‘taller, stronger and smarter’ because of an energy drink, making them wonder if they are good parents at all without serving their children with the energy drink. Other parents are sending their children to a hundred different classes, aren’t you?

People are growing thinner, becoming more attractive and finding dates. Have you joined the latest fitness cult or languishing in the darkness of being fat and unattractive? The fair and lovely maiden landed a job as an air hostess. It makes you doubt if your dusky and blemish-free beautiful skin is not good enough.

Playing on the fear positively is one of the best ways to drive people to try out your product and develop a need that did not exist.


6. The Commitment Consistency Theory


This is called getting your leg in the door. If you manage to get your customer to commit to a small act – sign up to a newsletter, give out their details for a trial subscription or sign up for a webinar, or download a white paper they are likely to warm up to make a bigger commitment in the future.

You can start by giving out bites of information in exchange first. B2B marketers often do this by creating white papers on industry research that is important for a particular segment of professionals. The professionals are highly likely to share their contact information to get the white paper in exchange. That becomes your perfect base for direct marketing.

The other option is to consistently provide the information that your customers are looking for. From blogs to social posts, the bytes of information tend to attract the right audience and build trust over a period of time. After that, it is just about selling them the right product at the right time.


In conclusion

Understanding the psychology behind marketing brand marketers to build a great story and reasoning being their brand campaigns. A nugget of psychological insight that converts into a marketing strategy is the driver behind successful marketing campaigns.

Have you tried a psychology hack that has worked well with your audience? Tell us via comments below.

About The Author

Payel Mukherjee

Payel dreams about travelling the world and relaxing in quaint beach cafes – when she is not helping brands find real growth through powerful content experiences. She loves waging the war against mediocre content marketing and is passionate about entrepreneurship and startups. She is also a Darjeeling tea junkie and the founder of Justwords.

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