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What is The Psychological Formula Behind Marketing and Advertising?

Updated September 29, 2021
Digital marketing strategy

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What is the Psychology Formula Behind Marketing and Advertising?

Knowing who your target audience is important in trying to understand their thinking. Figuring out the best methods to persuade consumers to take action is through gaining insight into their thoughts. Not actual mind-reading though (I wish!).

What is Psychology? 

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Psychology, being the study of the mind and behavior of humans, can provide businesses and brands with the answers on how to better communicate with their clients. Psychology can be used in a variety of situations, from counseling to everyday life. However, the interaction that happens between marketing and psychology is what will help a brand grow into something more.

Relating to Your Target Audience

Having the ability to relate to your consumers is incredibly important. Once you are able to build a bridge between your brand and your customer, you can steadily increase the frequency of persuasion.

A study done by Goldstein, Cialdini, and Griskevicius (2008) showed that when guests at a hotel received a message on helping to save the environment, towels were reused by about 15%.

This applies to our marketing strategy because it allows us to see the phenomenon called In-group favoritism. This phenomenon is when people tend to favor those around them that are like them. By finding a common ground between consumers and your company is how you can motivate them to take action in your brand.

Start Small and Try New Things

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When you gradually work your consumers up to where you want them to be, they don’t get overwhelmed.

For instance, a study done by Freedman and Fraser (1996) found that when they went canvassing, those they asked first a week prior to do something small like put a sticker somewhere were 3 to 4 times more likely to put a sign in their yard compared to those they did not ask the first time.

This is psychology coming to help in this experiment. People are more likely to consume things when the process is slow and steady instead of bombarding them with a huge request.  When you are able to get people to say yes to a little request or idea, then you create a connection and a sense of agreeability within them.

Starting small is helpful when trying new things. Working your way up to what works by randomizing certain marketing strategies, can increase your presence in people’s mind. Consistency is great but mix it up a little for a variety.

New things to try when marketing and advertising your brand:

  1. Offer exclusive previews and offers randomly
  2. Contests and giveaways
  3. Email marketing
  4. Creating a blog
  5. Virtual or in-person events
  6. Create and upload YouTube video

Each of these strategies are useful in advancing your brand but knowing when and how to use them is important. Looking again at the psychology behind marketing and advertising, if you have the ability to predict what your consumers will need and want, you can then strategically use each of these at the optimal time.

Psychology is More Than Just Mind Tricks 

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Often you can see brands that create human-like personalities for themselves. This makes them more appealing to consumers because they are no longer thinking of the brand as a corporation of business but instead, creates an intimate relationship between, which leads to more loyal customers.

The two main types of personalities that brands seem to have are, sincere or exciting.

Some examples of a sincere brand would be:

  1. Campbell’s
  2. Hallmark

These two brands tend to showcase things like:

Every business wants to be known as authentic and sincere, but not every brand wants their personality to be overtaken by it. Brands that are usually associated with sincerity attributes are hospitality, food and safety brands.

Examples of exciting brand personalities include:

  1. Red Bull
  2. Nike

These two brands bring forth sensations of:

Brands that are associated with exciting personalities are ones that often appeal to a target audience that is younger. The advertising is more energetic and more current celebrity endorsements are used. This brand personality type falls into many different categories, therefore you’ll see it quite often.

By creating this brand personality, you are able to tap into the consumer’s sense of perception and their behavior. Consumers gravitate towards brands that reflect their own behavior.

Brand Authority 

Along with persuasion and personality, having the proper authority can provide your consumers with a sense of trust.

Think about a time when you needed a doctor or a dentist. You probably went online or asked around to see where the best place was to go. This is where celebrity and influencer endorsements come in handy.

When a celebrity is used to endorse a product or a brand, consumers are more likely to follow along. This is due to parasocial relationships. This is when customers feel as if they know the endorser on a personal level. This creates a credible authority for both the consumer and the brand. The brand becomes a trusted and popular business because of who they were able to get to represent their product or service.

Ways that you can foster parasocial relationships between the brand and the audience:

  • Using social media to your advantage
    • Post daily
    • Cater to each social media app audience
    • Simple and effective wording
    • Tag content correctly
  • Use influencers and celebrities to promote
    • Choose people that your audience knows
    • Research their reputation
  • Speak directly to your audience
    • Use appropriate lingo
    • Use relevant imagery
    • Read and respond to comments
  • Use authentic stories and experiences
    • Use stories and experiences from both founders of the company and from your consumers
  • Become a part of their everyday lives
    • Make your brand memorable
    • Use catchy slogans or taglines
    • Create a space that allows open discussion

Fake It Till You Make It 

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Starting off as a new brand is terrifying. It can feel like you’re climbing the tallest mountain in the world, and it feels like you will never make it. A notion that helps get you on your feet again is to fake it till you make it.

Making it appear like you’re popular is something that you can use to your advantage. Most consumers want to fit in with the crowd and when they start to feel disconnected from others, for instance, let’s use Apple iPhone for an example. When a new iPhone releases, everyone is flocking to buy one because they think it’s popular and want the latest technology in order to feel that they are once again connected with the community.

No one wants to feel like the odd one out, so marketers use these feelings of impulsiveness to persuade people into buying their products and services.

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About the Author

Justin is a local marketing expert with over 15 years of experience creating brand recognition around digital strategies.

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