Integrated Psychology and Marketing


It wasn’t until I took an introduction in a psychology course that I realized how many marketing methods I’ve been using were based on psychological principles. Since then I’ve been seeing examples of it all over. It also helped me to sharpen my own marketing techniques and it does wonder when pitching ideas to clients.

Dual Process Theory

When a person makes a decision about something, there are two paths he can go through, cognitive wise. One is the implicit system and the second is the explicit one. The first is more instinctive and makes decisions based on intuition, feelings and sometimes, previous knowledge. This path is faster and results in more automatic reactions. The second is more rational and logical. It will weigh pros and cons, think about the big picture and will usually take longer to work. Since the second path takes a lot more recourse and time from us as human beings, we tend to use it less often and only when it’s really needed. We decide when it’s needed according to the type of decision we need to take. There are different parameters that we consider, subconsciously, when choosing which path to take and although they differ from one person to another, they tend to have rather a large common ground.

So how does it all relate to marketing?

When you start working on marketing a new product, the first thing you need to decide is under through which system your product is going to go through. This is actually the most important distinction you will make and it will determine the success or failure of the entire future of your campaign. For example – when I did marketing for an online gaming website, I had to first understand their target audience and how they feel when they decide whether to register to the site or not. I’ve read some social researches about it and my final conclusion was that their potential users will most likely use their implicit system. The reason for that is a low risk and casual nature of this type of a product. Also, the moment you add the word – ‘Game’, it automatically throws us to a more casual place, for better or worse. This understanding affected all of my design recommendations and marketing channels. I chose an easy going atmosphere, emphasizing fun and thrill, combining the immediate call to action with minimum textual information and maximum visual elements. The opposite example would be marketing a life insurance product. When people consider which life insurance to make, they immediately go through the explicit system. This decision is going to have far-reaching consequences and at a large scale, which makes most people tend to consider it carefully. In this case, you’ll need to choose a more serious approach, with a lot of information, minimal design, using characters that seem smart and rational or that are likely to come up in mind when making this decision (like a spouse or a child).

Marketing message authority

When we try to decide whether to buy something or not, we go through a regular course of influential levels of opinions. The first one is, of course, us – our personal experience. The second is a close friend or someone we know and trust. The third is a known person from the media – a model or a news reporter (depending on the processing system we’re going through – see above). The forth is a valid news source and the fifth is a marketing channel – be it a salesman or an ad we see somewhere. As marketers, our main challenge is turning the fifth stage to a second or third one. This will automatically improve your chances to actually affect a customer’s decision. There are many ways to do that such as adding a ‘Review and Rate’ feature to your site.

This marketing method is best used by and through the very well-known social network – Facebook. They’ve actually turned this into a form of art. Most of the advertising campaigns have a [‘friend name’ played/visited/tried ‘specific product’] feature to their sponsored ads section and, of course, there’s the like box one can put in a website that includes: [‘#number’ people Like ‘this site’] while showing first the visitor’s his friends, if he is connected to his Facebook account at the time. This takes the marketing to a much more personal level and sends you directly to the second level of influence.

A foot in the door

This is actually one of the more familiar marketing methods which combine marketing with psychology. It means you gradually get a person to accept your main offer by getting him to first accept small, less committing offers. If you take the gaming site mentioned above as an example again, like many other sites in this niche, it will first offer a free version with minimum commitment – fast registration and easy access to most of their services etc. After you’ve agreed to that it’ll start offering bigger offers like – ‘Get a freebie if you deposit money but still, you don’t have to spend money’, and of course the final and desired result – ‘Deposit and spend money’. These stages, from the least to the most committing one, make that person much less reluctant to agree with your final and big offer than he would be if you’ve started with it.

Neil Patel (and I) are the admirers of Apple's marketing strategies. There was something creative which gave them astounding growth in revenue from 8 billion to 180 billion Dollar. MacFly Pro, in one of their post, mentioned that 27% Apple users commit they buy from Apple because of their student discounts. On top of that, more than 50% of Apple users agree that Apple products are the best in the market.

There are many more techniques you can use that take elements from the psychology world and put them to highly effective use in the marketing world, specifically in the online marketing arena where possibilities are just about endless. As an online marketer, you need to learn about them and make sure you use them as best you can. And don’t forget to use your explicit system while you do it.

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