Marketing is one of the most important aspects of running a business. The better you are at it, the more revenue you’ll create.
So if you can improve your skills just a little bit, you will earn one heck of a great living doing whatever you do, provided you priced the product or service correctly.
How to improve your marketing skills using psychology
So the question becomes how do we improve ourselves in this regard? One of the ways you do that is to learn from those that have spent a great deal of time studying the topic. One such man is Robert Cialdini. He happens to be a professor with a PhD on his resume, and he studies human behavior.
I’ll recommend one of his ground-breaking books at the end of this post, but for now lets focus like a laser on what he discovered. His work uncovered how a little “psychology”, used correctly, can greatly increase the chances of creating more sales for whatever you are selling. In particular he found that there are 6 primary psychological sales “triggers”. They are:
- Commitment & Consistency
- Social Proof
Breaking down what each sales trigger means
1 – Reciprocity: The principle of reciprocity is pretty simple. It means that when someone gives us something we feel compelled to give something back in return. Odds are you’ve see this in action plenty of times and yet never noticed it.
For instance have you ever gone to the local supermarket and ended up purchasing a container of specialty cheese after you tried a free sample from a smiling employee who offers it to you? Well folks, that was the principle of reciprocity in action on YOU “the consumer”.
How to use it to your advantage: I used to include a “magnetic business card” with all my direct mail pieces. I gave it away as a small promotional gift, other companies use logo imprinted pens or key holders. In either case, YOU ARE GIVING THEM SOMETHING, and it sets in motion the principle of reciprocity.
At other times I used a bottle of “Spot Out” which was a small bottle of carpet cleaning solution. It was branded with my logo and contact info and I gave it out at networking meetings, when handing out flyers and even on some sales calls.
People LOVED getting something for free that actually HAD VALUE. Women tended to be much more receptive to this product, but I gave it out to all nonetheless. Once again, the “principle of reciprocity” went to work for me.
2 – Commitment & Consistency: The principle boils down to this… “people will go to great lengths to appear consistent in their words and actions”. So in essence, people like to be viewed as someone who actually follows through on what they say. So for instance, let’s say you are trying drop a few pounds off your waistline.
So you do what everyone does… you diet and or exercise. When starting this new routine, research indicates that it can be very helpful to state your goal publicly. This is because once you’ve told others what you’ve set out to do, you tend to have more “incentive” to back up your words with ACTION.
How to use this to your advantage: One simple technique is to offer a way for visitors to your website to sign up for your email list, newsletter or monthly sales promotion. This gets them to make a “small commitment” to your company.
Once that commitment is made it not only opens the door for you to contact them more, it increases the chances they will buy from you because of the “commitment” they made by signing up to your list.
Regular communication via email offering monthly or seasonal specials can help keep them “consistently” purchasing from you in the future. Highly successful marketing professionals often say “the money is in the LIST”. This means the bigger the email list, the bigger the payday.
3 – Liking: This is a real simple concept to get your head around. It states that people are more likely to say “yes” to a request of some kind if we feel a “connection” to the person making it. That’s why the person who is handing out imported cheeses for you to taste test at the local supermarket is always greeting you with a big fat smile.
This is also why big corporate brands hire “celebrities” or “athletes” to endorse their products. It sounds crazy, but people “transfer their love” of George Foreman, Kevin Durrant and Michael Jordan to whatever they are endorsing. This means the more likeable the endorser, the MORE MONEY is generated.
How to use this to your advantage: If you can afford to hire Michael Jordan, that would be your best bet, but short of that the easiest way is to make sure YOU are as likeable as possible. Look nice, be gracious whenever possible, say THANK YOU OFTEN, take nothing for granted and above all sincerely try to “be of service” to those who call on you.
In addition, if you have a website take the time to develop an “about us” page that tells a little story about WHO you are and WHY you came to start your own business. People love hearing about how someone got started and it helps build trust, loyalty and if you do it just right… it helps them to “like you”.
4 – Authority: As a rule, people tend to obey authority figures. This was confirmed in a famous research study called the Milgram experiments. If you never heard of it, it went like this. People with nothing more than “lab coats” on (the authority figure), asked volunteers to press a button and deliver an electric shock to someone in another room.
While the volunteer could not see the person they were shocking with electricity, they COULD HEAR THEM CLEARLY. So when the man in the lab coat said “press the button”, THEY DID. They started with small “shocks” of electricity and worked their way up to larger amounts.
So basically each time they were asked to press the button, it would deliver a BIGGER SHOCK. And the scary thing is they did so even when they started hearing people SCREAM after the buttons were pressed. They did so because an “authority figure” told them to. This is very interesting (and very scary to a degree) don’t you think?
How to use this to your advantage: Take classes (such as those offered at various Jon-Don locations across the USA) to expand your cleaning knowledge. The more you “sound like” you know what you are talking about, the more you’ll get hired. It’s as simple as that in some cases!
Another approach is to join a professional organization. For instance if you clean carpet, you can join the IICRC (The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification). By doing so (and promoting the fact that you are a member) you get some extra credit with the potential customer because you are viewed as being an “authority” on the topic of carpet cleaning.
Dressing professionally also plays a role (just like the lab coat in the experiment). So when you can afford to, get some professional polo shirts emblazoned with your logo on it and pair it with some Dockers for a nice clean look. Maybe add a baseball cap customized with your logo. PLAY THE ROLE just right, and sales will increase.
Another way to do this is to have a blog on your website. It allows you to publish articles that SHOW YOUR EXPERTISE on a particular subject. You could have short articles on how to remove spots and stains, how to properly clean tile and grout and perhaps share some interesting facts about the industry. In the readers eyes, you are an AUTHORITY, and that will lead to more sales.
5 – Social Proof: This principle revolves round the fact that the majority of individuals, at their core, tend to run with the herd. In other words, we are social creatures that do things “just because” other people do.
For instance, if you were in a large crowd and suddenly everyone around you started running in a certain direction, the odds are high that you would join them. Why? Because you would make a “quick assumption” that they know something you don’t.
How to use this to your advantage: Have you gotten a mention in the local paper? Mention it! Won an award? Promote it! Did you ever get a testimonial from a customer? Quote them (with their permission of course) in your marketing materials, website and brochures! This is a time tested way to get people to “follow the herd” (and grow YOUR HERD of customers).
6 – Scarcity: The final piece of the puzzle is a phenomenon called “scarcity”. This concept states that people are highly motivated by the thought that they might lose out on something. For instance, if someone tells you that you can’t have something, it makes you WANT IT EVEN MORE.
Retail stores, telemarketers, cable companies and just about every major advertiser use this to their advantage all the time by suggesting that certain products (or low prices) might soon be gone. In other words… YOU BETTER ACT NOW if you want one.
How to use this to your advantage: One of the easiest ways to take advantage of this is by simply HAVING A DEADLINE on all specials you are offering. For instance, if you want to drum up business by offering 25% off for a given service, clearly state WHEN THE OFFER ENDS.
Make it one week away or two weeks away… just pick a date, any date, it really doesn’t matter that much as long as it’s not too far off. This deadline makes people ACT. It stops PROCRASTINATION in its tracks and should be used at all times when running promotions.
This post certainly gives you a lot to digest, and it will take some time to fully implement the ideas presented. So don’t beat yourself up because you can’t put everything to use in a short amount of time. Just chip away everyday and you’ll be just fine. And by the way, I mentioned that I would tell you how to buy the book by Robert Cialdini. It can be found here on Amazon Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition.