Special Sauce

Use Buyer Psychology To Sell Anything

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Buyer Psychology

I’m related to Doc Holliday, but I’m no doctor. I’m just a grower of companies searching for marketing strategies that work. Everything that follows came from my study and application of psychological principles to help my clients (and my company) sell more. I’m going to walk through 3 psychological principles you can put to work in your marketing in this article:

  • Reciprocity
  • Social Proof 
  • Decidophobia (a.k.a. decision paralysis)

Robert Cialdini’s book on The Psychology of Persuasion got me started on this path, but I also credit Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made To Stick and a gaggle of other authors whom I’ve read over the years with shaping my views. Reading books from intelligent people helped me form hypotheses that I have since tested to see what works. I guarantee you’ll see a lift in sales if you build a better understanding of buyer psychology. 

Reciprocity: I Owe You One 

I feel obligated to comment on your LinkedIn post if you comment on mine first. You’ll probably get an invite to my next party if you invite me to yours first. I’ll jack up your tip if you give me a beer on the house. Reciprocity is easy to understand. Give someone something and they feel compelled to return the favor.

Content marketing is built on this psychological principle. You give away all of your knowledge to people you want to buy. The goal is to help them solve their problems and answer their questions. In return, the right people feel compelled to share your content, pay for your service, or buy your product because you’ve given generously to them first.

Content marketing is just one spot where you find reciprocity at work. Free consultations, fortune cookies with the check, glasses of wine while you shop, and all of those other little gifts you receive are an attempt to use reciprocity. Companies have been using this principle for hundreds of years. That’s the beauty of basing your strategy on psychology, it doesn’t change. This concept existed long before the internet and it will remain as we transition into whatever is next.

Where can you work a bit of reciprocity into your marketing? Give information, time, or something of monetary value. Customers will return the favor many times over.

Reciprocity Example

I was mentoring a small business that delivers frozen meals to families earlier this week. Their customer base is local so they’re working to build relationships, not just customers. They shared a brilliant marketing idea with me on the call. They’re giving away meals to all new mothers in their city. No strings attached, it’s a simple gift to new moms. 

I love it!

These women are their ideal customer and the company is triggering the rule of reciprocity by giving them a meal when they have a baby. I’d put my money on a healthy return from this investment. 

Social Proof: Put My Worries At Ease

I come to your website wanting you to have the answer, but I’m skeptical and uncertain. When uncertain, I’m looking for proof from other people that I’m in the right place and making the right decision. Put my worries at ease with proof that shows you’ve solved this problem for other people just like me in the past. Make it easy for me to follow the crowd.

Customer reviews, before and after photos, testimonials from happy clients, case studies, customer numbers, and past client logos are all forms of social proof used in various industries. It baffles me how many companies hide their social proof, or don’t share any at all. If your customers say good things about you, why would you hide that from the world?

Make a big promise of what giving you money will help someone achieve and then show them examples of how you’ve done it in the past. Don’t bury all of your proof at the bottom of a sales page either. Sprinkle it throughout your website where it’s impossible to ignore. 

Social Proof Example

Amazon is the ultimate example of the power social proof yields. You enter what you want in the Amazon search bar, weed through the list of options to find one rated 4-5 stars with lots of reviews, click on that product and read the reviews, and then you happily purchase knowing 3,000 other people provided their stamp of approval. 

Decidophobia: You’re Giving Me Decision Paralysis

I’m searching the internet looking for the solution to my problem. I stumble across your website and like what I see, but when I get to your product page I’m overwhelmed with options. I’m not sure which one to pick so I leave. My fear of making the wrong decision overwhelms my desire to solve the problem. That’s decidophobia. 

B2B, B2C, eCommerce, CPG, and service businesses all need to be wary of triggering decidophobia. We often think customers want more choices, but they usually want less…

  • products.
  • services. 
  • options.
  • decisions to make. 

Are you overwhelming customers with too many options? How can you simplify the path to purchase? Provide a manicured trail littered with social proof to the one option a customer needs to solve their problem. 

Decidophobia Example

We gave prospective clients multiple engagement options with my old firm. We thought including options in our sales collateral and proposals would drive more conversions. 

We were wrong. 

Options only confused prospects and left them unsure of what to pick. We would spend days, weeks, and occasionally months closing deals that should have been simple. 

With Special Sauce, we start every project the same way. Everyone has one option if they want to work with us. The clarity and simplicity has cut down decidophobia and made closing new clients much easier (for clients and us). There’s no fear of making the wrong decision because there’s only one decision. 

Use Psychology To Your Advantage 

There’s no reason to work against psychology. You’re making your life harder than it needs to be if you ignore these principles. Take a few minutes today to review your marketing. Are you…

  • giving before asking? 
  • showing proof you’ve delivered for other people in the past? 
  • making the right decision simple and clear?

You’ll see an increase in sales by addressing these 3 simple psychological principles. Trust me, I’m related to a Doc. 

That’s The Recipe for using psychology in your marketing. 

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