In our last post, we talked about the heavy use of psychology in marketing and how it can be utilised in campaigns. Last time we covered using emotional triggers and repetition to spur action. What other psychological tricks can we use to make a marketing campaign a success?
The “fear of missing out” or FOMO is a powerful trigger for many people even if they don’t realise it. The example we used last time of ecommerce websites using “other people who bought X also bought Y” uses FOMO to convince you to carry on spending.
My wife suffers from FOMO a lot. Even if she doesn’t particularly like something, if I’m having it, she wants it too. This is useful in marketing. Psychologists call it loss aversion, which isn’t particularly accurate in my opinion as it has less to do with loss and more to do with want. However.
Using FOMO is nothing new. Any time-limited offer uses it, any offer that says “limited numbers”, “only the first 100 people” or “once they are gone they are gone” uses the fear of missing out to trigger an action.
Have you ever been offered something free only to feel obligated to buy something in return? Like a free no-obligation trial of something or a free sample? This is the principle of reciprocity. Despite being largely selfish animals, humans can also be amazingly generous.
Farmers markets and craft producers use this methodology to good effect. They offer free samples to let you try before you buy, but by showing generosity in that initial exposure they are counting on reciprocity to get you to buy something in return.
In marketing, this is where the free trial, free gift or totally free introductory incentive comes in. It is a powerful call to action for many people.
Finally, we come to psychology and the headline. Have you ever noticed that when you read something, your mind notices the first and last letter of a word? It’s the same for a sentence too. We see this sometimes when reading. A word may be spelled wrong but our mind automatically corrects it for us. It takes note of the first letter and the last letter and fills the rest in without really reading it.
We use this to our advantage when writing headlines. We know that in a headline, the first and the last words are going to be the only ones really noticed and remembered. That means we have to make those the most powerful we can.
The first word should contain the most powerful word you can think of to fully engage the reader. The final word should close the deal. It can also include a postscript to entice the action. A good, old fashioned P.S. is still a very popular advertising tool and for good reason. It’s like the proverbial person going “pssst” in your ear before whispering something nefarious or secret. That inclusiveness also tickles the emotional trigger response which is why it is still so popular.
Using psychology in marketing is certainly nothing new, the entire industry was built around. Yet the vast majority of the audience doesn’t even realise what’s happening. If you have a grasp of what goes into a marketing message, you can not only be aware of it when used on you, you can also use it for your own benefit.
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