The Key to Marketing is Psychology

This article was originally posted on our LinkedIn.

Modern-day marketing and advertising have become overrun with companies fighting to get consumer attention. Some tactics are clean and straightforward, some try too hard to be clever, and many try to rip off the success of others. In many cases, considerations for the core customer get lost or misguided based on the medium, to name but a few examples I often see in the wild:

  • Social media icons placed on out of home media (billboards, bus shelters, magazines) that do nothing more than to say to the customer: "we're on Facebook." Congratulations, so are every other company.
  • Long URLs on advertisements (i.e., that very few people will recall 30 seconds later.
  • White text on a bright background (or dark on dark, etc.) makes for hard to read ads as people (or moving objects with the advertisement) pass or maybe impossible for colorblind people.
  • Text on images in online media. People with screen reading devices will never see your message.

Maybe the above is just a little rant. Onto the purpose of the article. The more time I've spent in the marketing and advertising sector, the more I've come to realize that the key to successful efforts is a strong focus on psychology. To simplify, understand your customer, their problem, and how your product can solve that problem. For everything you do, try to determine what role the medium plays in the journey of that customer to buying, or re-upping, on your product. Are you trying to gain brand awareness? Introduce a new product or service? Generate a lead? Close a sale? The approach and presentation of information will probably need to be different to support what it is you're trying to do. Often, the goal is to "do everything," and the result fails.

Neon sign saying: This is the sign you've been looking for

So here's the thing - and here's where psychology matters in marketing. At every stage of that consumer's journey, you need to ask yourself [in the context of that page/ad/conversation], "what does my customer want in this situation?" Frame your response to line up with that want.

Let's say you sell bathroom fixtures in Cleveland, Ohio. You decide to invest a monthly budget on Google AdWords. You spend some time defining keywords, or phrases that you expect your customer to search online, focusing each on people within 50 miles of Cleveland. When someone searches for "kitchen sink" and sees your ad, where should we send them? Consider the most relevant place on your website to the context of kitchen sinks - hint: it's not the homepage of your website. Instead, that ad should send the customer to a page showing all of the kitchen sinks that you offer.

When viewing your kitchen sinks, what else might that customer want? A faucet? Soap dispenser? Do you have ratings and reviews on the product? At every step, you need to put yourself in the customer's shoes. What would I need to know to take the next step? What is the next step? Is the next step within reach? Customer intent. If you know their intent, you can ensure that content and appropriate calls to action are in place - whether that's Call Us; Add to Cart; fill out a form; Reserve Now; See In-Store Stock; etc.

Furthermore, on every page of your website, is it clear to the consumer that you are located in Cleveland? Do you list your phone number and address? What else might they want to know that will ease their visit, relieve their hesitations, and make them a customer?

The importance of marketing of getting into the consumer's mindset will help you laser focus on the primary action you want them to do - in any medium. If you make the customer work for it, your efforts will fall short. Attention spans are short, and consumer patience is low.

Whether the goal is to create brand awareness, introduce a new product or service, generate a lead, or close a sale - understand the context of where the customer will see each of your tactics; and the one thing you want them to action on. Be smart and focused. If you can do that and do it well, you'll have a better chance of outperforming most, if not all, of your competitors.

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