Growing your business, no matter the industry begins with selling yourself, your brand, your product, or your service. Whether you’re in marketing, branding, design, or sales, the key to success is to sell - which may seem easier said than done. However, by diving into the psychology of marketing, you’ll learn that there are key tips and tricks to sell anything to anyone. One of these “tricks” is called cognitive bias.
Cognitive bias is a principle of techniques that affects a person’s subconscious mind. In other words, you can convince anyone to love what you are promoting to them through social media, sales pitches, conversations, or marketing without them even knowing it! These biases are used in marketing all the time, but you likely don’t notice it because even those that are trained in cognitive biases are often influenced without knowing.
There are countless cognitive biases used across a variety of industries. Let’s dive into three of the most powerful biases that will help you grow your client base and expand your market.
It may seem obvious that humans have a stronger want for things that may seem unavailable or inaccessible. This concept is called deprival super reaction syndrome, or scarcity. By presenting your target customer or client with an option that seems limited or rare, the customer is more inclined to jump at the opportunity before it is gone.
One excellent example of scarcity as a marketing tactic is Airbnb. When browsing stays, Airbnb labels some options as a “Rare Find - This place is usually booked”. By adding this verbiage, the consumer perceives this as an opportunity that could become unavailable soon, which persuades them into booking a stay quicker as opposed to browsing more options.
Another website that has a strong use of the scarcity tactic is hotels.com. When browsing hotels on their website, you’ll find that many options are listed as having a limited availability remaining, like “we have 2 left at” this low rate. Again, humans are wired to jump at opportunities that may become unavailable - which is why hotels.com use of this marketing tactic makes them one of the leading hotel accommodation resources in the world!
When a person decides to take a chance to potentially gain something as opposed to gambling on a potential loss, it is called loss aversion. In other words, humans would rather not lose something they already have than potentially gain something of equivalent value - the possibility of losing $5 is much more painful than missing out on the opportunity to gain $5.
In marketing, we see use this tendency to our benefit by offering free trials or samples of our product or service. When a consumer knows that they are not losing anything by trying a free trial or sample, they are much more likely to try it out and form an attachment to your product or service.
Another way to use the loss aversion effect in marketing is to offer a limited time bonus, which also ties into scarcity bias. Attaching a time limit to an offer encourages the consumer to commit quickly in order to not miss out on an opportunity - humans have a tendency to avoid losses.
Imagine having to choose between two options. Option A costs $50 and Option B, which includes a few more features, costs $100. Consumers will likely be split 50-50 on which option to choose. However, if we offer an alternative Option C for $75, consumers see this as a “compromise” and are more likely to select this option. These results were actually found in a 1992 experiment conducted by two cognitive psychologists; when the researchers presented participants with three different cameras at different prices, 57% of the participants opted for the middle ground or “compromise” option, thus explaining the compromise effect.
Offering a compromise option is a strong marketing strategy if your goal is to sell memberships or subscriptions. The compromise effect is most effective when you accompany your preferred option with extreme options (like much higher or lower prices) on each side.
The compromise effect truly relies on the presentation to your customers - be sure to design your options in a way that gives special attention to your “compromise” offer. Place the option that you want your customers to select in the middle, between two extreme options, so that customers focus on the featured offer.
While these three tendencies are excellent options to include when advertising your product or service to customers, there are countless cognitive biases that can be used to strengthen your marketing strategy. By appealing to your targeted audiences’ subconscious mind, you can boost your business exponentially.
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