The good, the bad & the ugly

Psychology techniques part 3: The good the bad & Ugly

Greetings to the third part of this little adventure into marketing psychology.

This is a collection of techniques that are currently popular and used day in, day out by marketing people.

1. Anthropomorphism

This is a technique where animals or non-human characters are given human characteristics. A good example of this is the Cesar 'gourmet dog food' brand who did this campaign to show that the little dog really is your best friend. There's also a catfood brand called Sheba that uses the same technique. This approach has opened up a multi-million £ market for gourmet pet food which didn't exist a few years ago.

2. Social Proof

This is all about using everything in your power to convince your customer of your credibility. This is something we can all do...

Testimonials | Awards | Reviews | 'Best-seller' tags | Editorial coverage | Client logos | Facts & Figures | Social media followers | Professional Acreditations ... etc.

3. Acknowledging resistance

MacDonald's (and other fast food brands) still try to convince the world that their burgers contain vitamins and are made from the highest quality ingredients. Even though we all know that it's junk food.

Acknowledging resistance is where you give up the pretence and go with it anyway. My favourite example of this is Pot Noodle. They could have gone down the route of saying that 'The tomato flavoured Pot Noodle contains as much vitamin C as an apple. But instead they went down this route - it's junk food, it's trash food, let's stop apologising for it and embrace it.

4. Reverse psychology

This technique involves persuading someone to do what you want by pretending not to want it or by pretending to want something else. The principle is closely related to the idea that people who feel their control is being taken away will take it back through defiance. For example, Patagonia’s cheeky full-page New York Times ad that declared “Don’t buy this jacket” helped launch its common threads initiative to reduce the company’s carbon footprint and encourage consumers to do the same.

5. Suggested sex appeal

This is an obvious one. But it doesn't always work. The ice cream ad picture below is a good example - plus an example of where it all went horribly wrong...

6. Misleading visuals

Another obvious one - we all know it happens in all sorts of industries. Trading Standards have rules and guidelines on this - but advertisers will always push the boundaries. We have a picture of below Julia Roberts - on the right is her natural look, on the left we see how Lancome think she needs to look in order to sell skin products...

7. Reciprocity

If you've ever been given a mint with your bill at a restaurant, you've been the victim of reciprocity. According to Marketing Psychologist Rober Cialdini, when servers bring a check to their patrons without a mint, the diners will tip according to their perceptions of the service given. With one mint, the tip jumps up 3.3%. Two mints? The tip jumps "through the roof" to roughly 20%. Crazy, but true!

8. Scarcity

"Hurry, only 2 left in stock!" Yep, it still goes on - and marketers use it because it still works.

9. The Baader-Meinhoff Principle

Or...the frequency illusion. It starts happening after you encounter something for the first time, and then you start noticing it cropping up in everyday life. Suddenly you see ads for the product every time you watch TV. And when you go to the grocery store, you happen to walk down the aisle and spot it. And all of your friends all have the product...

This is in principle behind modern marketing techniques such as Retargeting. You look at shoes on the Asos website. Then the next time you're on Facebook, you see an ad for those very same shoes. Then you're on Daily Mail website, and the same ad appears again...

Here's a video that explains how it works.

That's it folks...
There are more of these - but we've all only got so much time. I hope you find this topic as interesting as I do.

Next week is the last email about marketing psychology - I'll be giving you a list of practical and affordable things anyone running a small business can do.

Until then, have a great week


jackie harrisComment