It’s all in the mind…

It’s all in the mind…

Psychology graduate Hannah Drakard has recently joined Bolser, a digital agency based in Leeds, to gain a deeper understanding of their clients and analyse the agency’s own strategies. Here, she looks at the growing role of psychology for businesses.

In business we need to utilise every tool to get our prospects and consumers to buy our products and services. A good understanding of the psychological triggers that influence decision making is vital in getting the best outcomes. Some natural salespeople are able to intuitively understand how to influence people. For the rest of us and for businesses dealing at arm’s length through advertising and digital marketing an understanding of the principles can make the difference between a sale and no sale or a high value sale verses a lower value one.

Psychology is about understanding how and why people think and behave in certain ways. Taking the time to try and learn more about people, their social influences, attitudes and behaviours will give you a better understanding of your audience. This can then influence decisions made about the design and approach to marketing campaigns or the production of a product, including websites and apps. By asking consumers what their preferences are and what motivates them to use a product, businesses can gain a better insight into how to reach out to consumers.

If a consumer can identify a connection with a product or service, they are more likely to affiliate with this as they have a strong sense of identification. This is why it is so important to consider the psychology of consumer behaviour, to ensure repeat custom and symbolic interaction which is where people act toward things based on the meaning those things have for them.

My top tip, is to read a book like ‘Influence’, by Dr Robert Cialdini which explains the psychology of why people say ‘yes’- and how to apply these understandings. He explains the practical triggers and weaknesses that make people susceptible to sales and marketing techniques.

One of our favourites is ‘reciprocity’. When you give something to someone, they feel an obligation to return the favour. That could be as obvious as a bottle of wine at Christmas or a simple ‘tradable’ in a sales negotiation. Studies have shown that people have contributed more when they were made to see themselves as having unique information to contribute. For example email messages can motivate people in an online community simply by reminding them of an opportunity to contribute. The content of the message, also plays a key part, making members of the community feel unique encouraging them to contribute.

Once you know the nature of someone’s personality you can apply such theories to brands. Some brands even use some of these characteristics to represent the brand. It can be beneficial to consider using techniques to support certain personality traits allowing them to affiliate with a marketing campaign. For example someone with higher emotive personality characteristics will be able to relate to warming characters or a narrative that plays on emotions.

Personality and gamification can support an experience to become personalised and give individuals the sense of importance and belonging, this will then support retention with a product or a brand and increase engagement. Gamification can be applied to many online tools to give customers a personal experience based on the way they approach games.

Continued assessment of what your customers want will enable you to stay ahead of the game by adapting your approaches. Keeping customers interested in the product or service will create a larger sense of loyalty and continued interaction.

Keeping a close eye on the interaction and successes within a business will give you an insight into what customers’ preferences are. If this can be delivered to them in a fashion that requires little effort on the consumer’s part, but provides great satisfaction and surprise, it will strengthen the relationship with the brand.

Rewarding behaviours are an important psychological tool. These don’t always have to be physical or monetary rewards. Integrate rewards and positive surprises for individuals throughout to build on the existing relationship with customers. Looking at your own business and gaining an understanding of the people working for you can be beneficial from the outset.

Understanding the customer base you are targeting, and how to improve your business to suit the needs of those you are trying to target is a key element of your business plan. Make sure you don’t just stand still once you have created your plan, develop a plan with a cycle to revisit approaches based on consumer activity and feedback, so you are always learning and evolving.

I am excited by the opportunities an understanding of psychology can bring to business owners - it’s still very much an untapped tool - often dabbled in by sales people, but not understood at a deep rooted level. If you’re looking for quick tricks you might get lucky with a couple, but an educated understanding of what really makes your customers tick, to enable you to tap into their psyche when making a purchase, is a valuable asset and one to be invested in.