6 Psychological Tricks That Are Useful in Marketing

How to get better marketing results

How to get better marketing results

My business centers on behaviour change and influence. I struggled in business for many years until I decided to study psychology. I’m glad I did this because my practice improved tremendously.  However I also started to understand many other principles which had began to impact my business and life positively.  In this blog post, I wish to share what I have learnt in marketing psychology. The fact that many scientific studies have been carried out to prove that these principles work is encouraging, but remember they take time to work.

I do appreciate that to some people these are merely reminders; however, I still hope this write-up is useful in generating more income for all of us in the coming months.

1) Reciprocity 

In Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, he introduces the concept of “reciprocity” — if someone does something for you, you naturally will want to do something for him or her. I don’t mean bribery. If you are sincere and do it in a giving way, the other person will naturally want to do something for you. 

How to apply this:

You could give something away for free – this will help build customer loyalty.  You could just give free access to your blog or a free article – it doesn’t have to be anything expensive. That is why we get free cosmetics sometimes in exchange for contact details. We seldom get upset when they bombard us with mailshots thereafter (90% of the people according to the study, there are 10% of us who mind).

2) Commitments – another principle developed by Cialdini, “commitments” relies on the fact that people don’t like breaking their promises. This principle is used on us sometimes when we buy clothes and we are asked to try it on. In most cases we are committed once we put that dress or shoes on.   

How to apply this:

This is a great way to fight customer churn. Though you should never stop trying to delight your customers (per principle #1), it’s important to keep in mind that the longer the commitment they make to you, the harder it could be for them to churn. You could perhaps lower prices and get new customers to sign up for a 6-month period and then revert back to the ‘normal’ price.  By this time you would have gotten the customer’s commitment.  Fuel up this commitment by offering great offers and customer service.

3) Authority 

People obey authority figures. There have been many studies done in psychology around conforming and obedience.  When we view someone as having authority, we are more likely to trust his opinions and suggestions because we think the person is credible.  . When we view someone as having authority, we’ll be much more likely to trust his or her opinions and suggestions, simply because we believe the person is credible. 

When You Could Use This in Marketing:

Increase your authority in your content by prominently featuring authors’ information alongside your products. You could just have been a working mum who tried many products until you created your own.

4) Social Proof 

Social Proof boils down to a situation in which you adopt the beliefs or actions of a group of people you like or trust. In other words, it’s the “me too” effect.  Imagine a school dance floor in your teens; once everyone starts dancing, everyone else wants to join in.  It’s a desire to conform and it doesn’t go away just because we are older.

When You Could Use This in Marketing:

A great way to social proof is using your blog or social media page. If you are not already, use social sharing and follow buttons which display the number of followers you have or the number of shares.  Another way is by profiling customers that others want to aspire to be like.  E.g.…Angela is a young busy mum who used our product and lost weight within 3 weeks…use testimonials etc.

Another psychological study found that stories in advertising cause people to act more than when you just give them statistics (Small A. et al 2007).  This is why we are sold stories when charities want to raise funds. They play somber music and tell the story of a little girl who walks for miles to get clean water. It works…or they would stop doing it.

5) Scarcity 

An example of this is when you go to buy airline tickets and you see the ‘only 3 seats left’ tagline.  This principle is in line with the economic principle of supply and demand.  It’s the rule of exclusivity.  Everyone wants to be exclusive, with the rare products; they want to be the lucky ones who got in just as the seats were about to go…think about it.

Note: If you want to use this principle, you need to be careful how you word it. If you approach the scarcity concept as if there used to be a ton of a product or service, but due to popular demand there’s a few left, people will be very receptive. On the other hand, if you approach it from the angle that there are only a few products total, so get it now; the principle won’t be as effective.

When You Could Use This in Marketing:

It’s a great tactic when planning events.  If you are looking to increase sales, maybe a personalised email to people who haven’t registered yet reminding them that only a few seats are left might get more registered.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, I have included a further reading list should you need to check up or read up a little more.

 Further reading:

Robert Cialdini – Influence

Dale Carnegie – How to win friends and influence people

Small A. et al 2007 – Sympathy & Callousness: the impact of deliberative thought on donations to identifiable and statistical victims.

The Journal of Educational Psychology 30

Towella Ngambi-Alabi – Director Flexlearn, BA Hons, PGDipPsych, AIfl,


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