Knowledge About Psychology Drives Marketing Results

Psychology| Michael|18/11/2021


Even though we live in a world of racing technological advancements, humans are barely any different from what they were centuries ago. We have the same needs and motives. And this is unlikely to change any time soon.
Yet, this simple fact is easy to overlook nowadays. We are, after all, surrounded by smart devices, AI, VR, and other products that were Sci-Fi a couple of decades ago. This is why many marketers and salespeople tend to disregard the foundational psychological principles of interaction for the sake of talking about their product’s features.

This article summarises several key psychological tenets that will make a difference in your pitch. We will talk about:

  • Cognitive biases
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Emotional and motivational aspects of communication
  • Self-concept
  • Persuasion principles

Cognitive biases - systematic deviations from the standard of rationality

Regardless of what we (want to) believe in, we are mostly irrational. Our thinking is highly erroneous by default. These systematic blunders in thinking are called cognitive biases.

For example, a seminal study by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky determined that people prefer not losing what they already have to acquire something of the same value. This cognitive bias is called loss aversion.

Another classic experiment by Kahneman and Tversky on the framing effect found that the way a piece of information is framed decides how people will feel about it.

As illogical as it may be, this and other cognitive biases drive your clients’ decision-making process. Therefore, take them into account when interacting with your prospects and clients. For example, most people will defend their past decisions, even when they are obviously unwise. So, they might insist that the improvements you propose are not possible. Or that your product’s advantages are exaggerated. Tread gently around your prospect’s insecurities, and you can expect success.

Nonverbal communication

As much as 65% of communication occurs nonverbally. This means that when a salesperson starts pitching to their prospect on the phone or sends a promotional email, the majority of signaling remains undetected.

This is why many pitches fail to bring results. Without face-to-face interaction, you might risk wrong timing. Text communication causes you to miss essential cues on what move to make next.

Still, as it is impossible to have all your meetings in person, there is a perfect solution to make the right impression. Sending a handwritten letter adds a bit of nonverbal messaging because it demonstrates your intention to make an effort. We will speak about it more at the end of this article.

Don’t compare yourself with other people; compare yourself with who you were yesterday.”

― Jordan Peterson

Emotional and motivational aspects of communication

Although we are bombarded by countless product qualities whenever we head out to buy something, the fact is, our purchases remain mainly emotional.

According to Brian Tracy, a well-known marketing expert, the price and quality of a product are not reasons why people buy. Emotions and needs are the principal motivators in any sale.

Therefore, if you wish to be successful, you ought to consider how your pitch will make the other person feel. Will it show them that they are valued? Will it demonstrate respect for their time? Will it speak directly to their needs? Try to imagine the roles are reversed. What would feel good? Always account for the human aspect of any business interaction.

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude
toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather
than allowing it to master you.”

― Brian Tracy

Self-concept is a collection of your attitudes

How well you will do in social interactions is dependent largely on your self-concept. Self-concept is a collection of your attitudes towards yourself and your qualities. In other words, it is how you see and feel about yourself.

Humans are not detached machines. We respond to others. So, if you project an image of a valuable and confident person, others will be drawn to think of you in the same manner. A recent study by J. Ricky Fergurson confirmed classic findings — a consumer sees the salesperson as an extension of their company and products’ worth.

The same goes for the prospect’s self-image, according to scientific research. Your job is nearly completed if you manage to match your pitch with how a person sees themselves. So, make sure that you invest your energy into understanding the person you are speaking to. Individualize your pitch. Let it speak to what is most important to your prospect — is it achievement, family values, youth, smarts, self-development? Detect how they see themselves and show them that your product falls in line with their self-image.

Persuasion principles

People are momentously influenced by the suggestive elements surrounding us. It is not uncommon that a sale fails because the salesperson forsook to tend to their appearance, voice, attitude, body language. Persuasion is a fine art of making your internal and external world work to your advantage.

Pitches will never be successful if you disregard principles of persuasion. Cialdini, in his classic work “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion“, explains six such principles:

  • Reciprocity — People will feel in debt when you give a little something (such as a handwritten note to show appreciation for a person). They will want to repay that courtesy by, for example, brand loyalty.
  • Commitment/consistency — People need to feel that their beliefs and actions are consistent. In other words, commitment and self-image tend to align with each other.
  • Social proof — People need and like to be validated by others’ recognition and actions. What better way of showing your appreciation than sending a handwritten note?
  • Authority — You should always put authority in that specific area (fashion, IT, health…) in front of your product, as people are prone to follow a reputable leader.
  • Liking — The more someone likes you, the easier it will be to persuade them. In other words, products themselves are not what sells — your likeable persona does.
  • Scarcity — The rarer and scarcer a product is, the more people will want it.

However, bear in mind that people do not want to be sold to. They most certainly do not want to be tricked. Therefore, do not mistake persuasion for manipulation. Remember that your priority ought to be respecting the prospect and giving them control.

How to make psychology work for you

If you feel overwhelmed, there is no need. Yes, there is a lot to consider if you want to be the one who stands out from the mass of business people, marketers, and salespeople out there.

However, one simple but effective move within your reach encompasses all of the above principles. Consider sending handwritten letters to your prospects, clients, and business partners. Such an effort is supremely effective because it leverages the most profound psychological principles.

Handwritten letters testify that you care enough to invest time, energy, and finances. Also, they demonstrate that you believe in your product without you having to list all its features and perks.

A handwritten note shows that you appreciate the other person — and we all like to be appreciated.