Five ways psychology can help you make the most of your marketing

Tracey Porter

It’s no secret that consumers tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to marketing claims. But while most marketers aren’t psychologists, the successful ones regularly employ psychology when trying to engage their consumers.

So what tactics can small businesses employ to change the way their customers perceive them?

Keep things consistent

Business coach Michael Altenburfer, of Sydney’s Small Fish Business Coaching, says it’s important that small businesses stay consistent with their message and optimally professional without losing the personal touch.

“We have an unrealistic picture of what a good sales person should be like. I always tell my clients that as long as they love what they are doing (their product) and are genuine, their customers will sense that.”

Consider your use of colour

US content strategist Greg Ciotti, says much has been written about the use of colour psychology and how it can be used to engage customers. However, Ciotti says while certain colours do broadly align with specific traits, (e.g. green with environmental responsibility, purple with sophistication and red with excitement) there is much more to be considered.

“Nearly every academic study on colours and branding will tell you that it’s far more important for your brand’s colours to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical colour associations.”

Align yourself with a charity

Not-for-profit, community-based women’s charity YWCA says corporate partnerships are a great way to change how your company is perceived by consumers while assisting your local community.

“A long-term partnership can increase PR opportunities and prove to stakeholders a genuine commitment to helping others [while] staff engagement and volunteering leads to better staff morale and retention.”

If customers can see you are actively making changes to improve your practices, they may speak to friends and family.

Admit your flaws

Sydney-based online and survey software and research company People Pulse says you cannot expect all aspects of your business to be performing at the highest level all of the time, and negative feedback often highlights the areas that need improvement.

“If customers can see you are actively making changes to improve your practices, they may speak to friends and family. This could trigger a waterfall effect and you may reap the benefits through improved sales.”

Introduce uncertainty

Fear, uncertainty and doubt is often used by businesses to make consumers change their behaviour.

Dr Paul Harrison, the Unit Chair of Consumer Behaviour in the Department of Marketing at the Deakin Business School as well as a former regular on ABC National Radio’s now-defunct series Talking Shop, says fear can have a powerful effect on consumer behaviour.

He says while there are plenty of examples in which fear is used by marketers to get consumers to buy things, there are also situations when fear can be used to influence consumers into doing things that are good for them (e.g. buying products that have the heart foundation certification), which in turn will potentially make them feel better about the company providing the information.

Tracey Porter

Tracey Porter is a career journalist whose mug shot appears everywhere from daily newspapers and online news sites to business and consumer magazine titles.

Image: Kamilla Oliveira, Flickr Creative Commons license