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5 Ways to Use Psychology for Marketing Advantage

Marketing is the art of drawing in customers and making them want to buy your product or service. Far too often, people neglect the science that goes into this process. To draw in potential customers takes skill in the knowledge of how they think. Thus, tightly woven within the business of marketing is the science of psychology. Knowing about this underlying science can make you a better marketer and/or a better consumer.

Make Your Mark

In conveying a message, getting your point across can be tricky – especially if you do not want it to go in one ear and out the other. Here is how remembering gets difficult:

  • Working Memory Limits: When presented with a list of information; be it words, numbers, symbols, etc.; the human brain will most often remember only seven items when the list is gone.
  • Primacy and Recency Effects: The items most likely to be recalled are the first few, due to the Primacy Effect, and the last, due to Recency.

Therefore, placement of information is key. If you’re trying to send a message, keeping it brief and making sure you open and close with what is most important is essential to your message’s success.


Now that you’ve established your intentions, you need to know how to set the hook. It is important to keep in mind that many people love to do things out of the kindness of their heart and appreciate people who do the same. This may not sound like the details of a business proposition but, subconsciously, it is.

  • Reciprocity: Say you get a free t-shirt in the mail from a business or non-profit. If you’re like most people, you probably feel like returning the favor by buying from, replying, or donating to the organization is the only decent thing to do. The natural instinct to reciprocate the generosity often leads to taking action. In this way, it seems as though both sides win.
  • Identity: Being unique and having an individual presence in this world is very important to the average man and woman, whether they realize it or not. Because of this, a little marketing personalization can go a long way. This could be as simple as having the customer’s name in a message or including a note from your CEO that addresses them as an individual.

Making your customer feel that you are marketing to them and not simply the group that they are part of will often be much appreciated. In addition, this contributes to the principle of reciprocity, because personalizing means going out of your way to reach out to your customers, who then may not mind going out of their way to listen to you.

Set Yourself Apart

With your potential customers interested in what your organization has to offer, one must take care not to turn them away in haste. Since marketing requires that you or your organization gets inside your potential customers’ heads, your strategy has to be well thought out in order to break through. One reason why is due to

  • Confirmation Bias: This psychological phenomenon is very common. In fact, lots of sports fans experience this every time they watch a game. Some people swear every year when season starts that their team is destined for the championship. Then, during losses, you might hear “This is just a minor setback” and, no matter how far behind they are, when the team wins you’ll hear “See! This is what I’m talking about!” once again.

This is confirmation bias, or the human tendency to favor information that reinforces a previously held belief (and deny information that does not). To work around this, it is important to know that introducing a new idea is much easier to accomplish than changing a pre-existing one. With this in mind, it is best to be careful not to question previously held beliefs. For example: people can be incredibly brand-loyal, not to mention that the public can get tired of every brand on the market bad-mouthing one another. What can make you stand out from the petty, bickering competition is simply proving that your product or service is a worthy investment and showing that it is new, unique, and/or effective. If you are really the best in the market, you will not need to tell your customers that you leave the competition in the dust.

The Bottom Line

Marketing is not as simple as getting the word out. A good marketing strategy uses a variety of techniques to prove to potential customers that their money will not be wasted if they invest it. Even a basic knowledge of consumer psychology can make or break your ability to succeed. Knowing what goes on in the human mind when diving into the marketplace can benefit your business, and your life outside of work. For the sake of the business, don’t neglect the science.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2015. It has been updated for relevance, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.