Marketing Psychology Report
BUSINESS STORIES THAT CAN HELP YOU SELL MORE:
LYNN AND MARGARET opened their
dot com site with great hopes of
selling higher priced products for babies, like strollers and cribs.
But sales were flat. People were visiting, but not buying.
Then Lynn heard about a research study that found NEW buyers
much harder time making a decision about products because they don't
know how much importance to give to each of the attributes of the
"I see," said Margaret. "Our new moms don't
know if they'll be
happier with a heavy but sturdy stroller or one that's lightweight
but more flimsy."
"Right. And if we help them make a wiser decision, we should
get more sales. We do have good prices."
Lynn surveyed a group of moms and found over 70% of them
ranked weight as a more important attribute than sturdiness. They
ranked six other attributes of strollers, too. Margaret
Web page where visitors could check out how experienced moms ranked
many attributes of their products, and which products they
most. And she put a "Buy" button next to each of the choices.
Within a few weeks they could see that sales were climbing.
And that a large number of them coming directly out of their
don't just buy products, they buy all
of the attributes of those products. The less they know
attributes will give them the greatest satisfaction, and
cause the greatest dissatisfaction, the more likely they
are to keep
hunting until they have a "feel" for that
information. If you give
it to them, you're more likely to get the sale.
LAN AND FRED'S FLORIST SHOP was
doing OK, but they wanted to get
more out of their new Web site. They were getting visits and orders,
but more at the lower end of the price spectrum. Then one day Alan
heard about a research study on 'self-prophecy' which found that
people who BELIEVE they will take a certain action in the future,
like voting, are more likely to do so than others who aren't
asked-like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
"Fred, we can use this idea," said Alan.
"How? Give discounts to voters?" asked Fred.
"No. We'll set up a little two-point rating scale next to
each picture of an expensive arrangement and ask people to
"What would it say?"
"Choice one would say 'I'd buy this' and choice two would be
'I wouldn't buy this.' Keep it real simple and fast for them."
"We'll get some good information, but so what?"
"Don't you see? If they consciously rate an arrangement as
one they'd buy, then they have unconsciously made a prediction about
future behavior. Like role playing."
"I get it. They sort of see the arrangement in their home or
wherever and decide they like what they see. So they're more likely
to buy it. Pretty clever, Alan."
Alan and Fred did exactly that, and their Web site sales of
high-end arrangements took a big jump.
LESSON: Imagination is
a powerful selling tool. Get
buyers to rate your product, make a 'make believe' decision
guess which product they'd like most. That's a big step toward
making the sale. Like the car dealers say, "Imagine
this new Cadillac."
MARIA AND LUIS have a
successful online business selling gourmet
Last year they wanted to increase sales, and give something back
to the community. They remembered that Ben & Jerry's Ice
a part of each sale to help save the Amazon rainforest.
"Let's do that," said Luis. "We'll give a
percentage to the
March of Dimes."
"We're not Ben & Jerry's, Luis." said Maria.
"How do we know
it will work, and which products will we offer the deal on?"
Luis replied, "Let's ask Roberto."
Their son Roberto was a senior at the local University. A
week later he told them about research which showed people are
several times more likely to buy products tied to a charitable gift
if they were "personal pleasure" items, like candy,
ice cream, visits
to a spa, etc. When the offer was made on more utilitarian
soap or haircuts, it wasn't very effective.
The research showed it didn't seem to matter how big the gift
was - the research used 5% and 50% of the price. "They
Roberto," that a lot of people feel a little guilty
for 'personal pleasure' items, and this is a way to make the purchase
more acceptable. In fact, they'll even pay a little more if
the increase goes to charity. It doesn't even seem to matter which
good cause, as long as its well known."
Maria redesigned their Web pages to show that 5% of the
purchase price was going to the March of Dimes, but she
offer to gourmet items that seemed particularly
expensive truffles. And sure enough, the sale of those items
increased. They even got several e-mails complimenting them.
Charitable donations as a marketing strategy
can pay off, but it probably won't work on auto parts or
Picking a "personal pleasure" item is your best
bet for increasing
sales while doing good.
MONA AND ROLAND's dot com
health foods business was struggling.
"We're getting the hits that could make us a living if we
the sales," said Mona. "What can we do?"
Later that day Roland showed Mona a report he'd found online.
"Here's a research study that says just listing the good points
about our vitamins isn't enough. We need to 'inoculate' our
"Inoculate them? Why?"
"What happens is they leave our site thinking our
good, then they're persuaded to buy from someone else."
"So what do we do?"
"We pick some of the selling points used by competing Web
sites. And we show how our brand is superior to them on each of
"In other words, it isn't just comparisons, its like 'search
and destroy' their key selling points?"
"Right. Like, if they say their brand of calcium is
point out that doctors say calcium needs lysine for maximum
absorption, and their brand doesn't contain lysine, but ours does."
"So when they get to another site, they've already been
inoculated against the sales pitch."
Roland's new Web pages pointed out their competitors' claims,
then refuted them with backing from independent, scientific sources.
And it worked. Sales started to climb as more people returned
inoculating your visitors against future
persuasive arguments by competitors. Point out the problems your
competitor's brand causes, then show how yours does as good
a job without the problems. One important point - studies show
people don't like you to be personally derogatory. Like Joe Friday
said, "Just the facts, ma'am."
potential customers think of your
business, do they have a 'vanilla' image in their minds? Do you
stand above your competitors in their minds for some significant
When you think of cold medicine, a variety of products may come
to mind. But when you think of 'nighttime cold medicine,' it is
Nyquil that pops into your head. Why? Because in that narrow
category Nyquil has positioned itself as the top brand.
Your business needs some factor that makes it stand out from the
rest, some benefit important to buyers that you can claim as your
own, whether it is exclusively your own or not. Price is not a good
choice. Price is often not the most important factor in the buying
decision. And, as the old saying goes, 'He who lives by price shall
die by price.'
Look for one factor that will strike an EMOTIONAL chord with
buyers(Nyquil's positioning makes buyers think how miserable they
could be at night if they don't get relief), and hammer it
Volvo stands for safety, McDonald's is the place where families
go to eat and have fun together; and Mountain Dew has been
repositioned as the drink for active young people. Our firm is the
PSYCHOLOGICAL web marketing company. The best factors create some
mental picture or strong idea in buyers' minds.
Don't just be 'one of the pack.' Differentiate yourself in an
appealing way to your key market."
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MARKETING PSYCHOLOGY REPORT
TIM AND JUAN own an
insurance agency. They decided to
go online to attract new customers and serve current policyholders.
"Our site should tell people about all the good features of
our life and health policies," said Tim.
"Features are good," said Juan, "but we should emphasize
emotions, too. Promise to relieve their fears about the
guilt about leaving their family in a tough situation."
"Right, but how strong should that be?" asked Tim.
want to go over the top."
A few days later Juan said to Tim, "I think we need to be
pretty forceful with our fear message. I found several psychological
studies that show people usually think they are less likely than
others to have health problems, or to die in an accident. In fact,
they are convinced that they're less likely than others to
bad things happen to them, even when they have no logical
"So we need to have a message that will jar them out of that
`it won't happen to me' idea," said Tim. "Otherwise
a lot of
them will continue thinking they don't need our help."
Juan and Tim decided they needed to force people to look
squarely at their subconscious belief that they were luckier than
other people. They used quotes from several clients they had helped.
Each one emphasized their former belief that `it couldn't happen
to me' -- until something bad did happen -- and how glad they
have insurance when it did.
you sell a product or service based
on something bad happening to your customers (insurance agents,
dentists, doctors, morticians, lawyers, etc.), be aware
that you must
overcome your customers' `it won't happen to me' bias
will really feel a strong need of your services.
JANICE AND CINDY have a
personal enhancement business,
teaching people how to network, communicate with others, appear
more polished in interviews, etc. They have a Web site that
lot of hits, but isn't making the phone ring.
"I think we need bigger discounts and specials,"
"Maybe," said Janice. "But are we sure our
getting through? Is it stimulating their real buying motivations
then promising to satisfy them?"
The next day Cindy showed Janice some research she'd found
online. She said, "Look, these studies show people often way
overestimate their abilities compared to others, and
number of people who share their opinions."
"So that's our roadblock! They think they don't need our
"And they really do. They think they have better
personalities than others think they do, and believe they are more
skilled and popular than they really are."
Using that information, Cindy changed their Web site message
to strike directly at those false beliefs. The message emphasized
how overconfident their clients had been, until they blew an
interview or first date. They even quoted some clients as saying
they had been certain they were `cooler' than most other people,
until they found out the hard way that they weren't.
The strategy worked. Now Cindy and Janice are getting
calls as well as hits.
self-flattering social comparisons
are the flip-side of our beliefs that `it can't happen to me.'
Most people believe they are better than others in order to
positive self-image. If you have a product or service that people
know they deserve for being exceptional, you can play off
image in your marketing message.
But if you're like Janice and Cindy, you've first got to
convince them they need what you're selling.
PAUL AND PAULA own a dot com
company that sells household
cleaning products to consumers. As Paul says, their problem is
they've got a lot of lookers, but not many buyers.
"What's wrong?" cried Paula. "We've got great
name brand products!"
Paul did some research and told Paula, "One problem may be
that we're too dull. Evidently, people see companies as having a
personality as well as an image."
"Personality? Like people?"
"Right. Take Microsoft. It has an image for high quality
software, but a lot of people also see it is a powerful and arrogant
company. That's its personality to them."
"Since our company is just a Web site," said Paula, "the
personality it conveys is the one people give to our company, too."
"And that personality is dull, dull, dull."
Paul and Paula got busy changing their site to create the
sort of personality perception they thought buyers would like. They
brightened the look and sparkle of the site, inserted a couple of
humorous stories about their struggles to get started, created a
cartoon character for their best product ("Hey,"
said Paula, "it
worked with Mr. Clean!"), and emphasized their honesty by
Now they hear good comments about their site, including
their favorite, `Your site seems so friendly.' They've got an
online personality that works for them.
LESSON: Sometimes a
factor that seems insignificant to us
can play an important role in turning lookers
into buyers. What sort of personality does your site
convey? Is it
one that makes people pleased to do business with you? Most folks
still prefer to do business with companies they like and
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