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It’s All in Your Head: 3 Proven Steps for Acquiring New Customers through Consumer Psychology

Posted By Jeaneen Bengtson, Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Whether you’re selling security systems or monitoring services, when it comes to marketing your business, knowing what makes potential customers decide to sign contracts is key to success. To fully understand how buying decisions are made, you have to take a look at what’s going on in the psyche of a consumer.

Tapping into your clients’ minds doesn’t quite require psychic ability. All it takes is a crash course in consumer psychology. Here are three concrete ways you can adapt your marketing strategy to appeal to your customers on a subconscious level and increase sales.

Take advantage of the herd mentality
Numerous studies have confirmed that when humans are faced with decisions – both large and small – they look to the actions of their peers for guidance. This social phenomenon, known as “herd mentality,” was brilliantly illustrated in a 1960s Candid Camera experiment. The study found that when people entered an elevator they would generally face the elevator’s back wall if all of the other riders faced that way as well. By acting together in one group, the herd convinced the singled-out elevator riders that their actions were the right actions, causing most of them to conform.

 But how can the herd help you boost sales? Connect your potential customers to a group of people who are already utilizing your products or services.

One concrete marketing strategy would be to place door hangers on potential customers’ front doors to alert them that most homes in their neighborhood have an alarm installed (i.e. “Nearly 75 percent of homeowners in the XYZ community are securing their homes with an alarm system.”). Even if you aren’t the alarm provider for each home, the association of other homeowners in their neighborhood having a system would be enough for many residents to take the plunge and join the herd.

Embrace and enable the label
Research shows that when individuals are labeled as a member of a specific group, it can influence their behaviors. For example, in one study, a group of adults were interviewed about their voting patterns. After the interviews were conducted, half of the participants who were randomly chosen were told that they were deemed more politically active than their peers.  As a result, on Election Day, the group that was told they were politically active (thus being more likely to vote) had a 15 percent increase in voter turnout compared with the control group. The labels of the participants affected their self-perception, which in turn, affected their actions.

This tactic can be used in conjunction with the herd mentality for maximum effectiveness. On the door hangers previously mentioned, the message can be adjusted to say “Nearly 75 percent of responsible homeowners in the XYZ community are securing their homes with an alarm system. Shouldn’t you be protecting your home, too?” By adding the label “responsible homeowners” to the herd, you reinforce that the neighborhood has taken the “right” action by having security systems installed in their homes and an individual without one is the irresponsible odd-man out.

Nudge consumers with a call to action
Often, security companies utilize fear appeal in their marketing tactics. Because our industry specifically deals with crime, it’s a good strategy – burglary is scary and consumers should protect themselves. These tactics, however, are only effective if you give consumers follow-up instructions.

Take this study for instance: Two groups received pamphlets on the dangers of tetanus infection. In the control group, the pamphlets simply described the health risks associated with tetanus. In the second group, the pamphlets were the same with the exception of additional information on how and where to get vaccination. The addition of a call to action resulted in the second group having a higher sign-up rate for the vaccine than the control group.

With the addition of a call to action, now your door hanger might look something like this: “Homes without alarm systems are three times more like to be burglarized. Nearly 75% of responsible homeowners in the XYZ community are securing their homes with an alarm system. Shouldn’t you be protecting your home, too? Call ABC Security to secure your home today.”

While we haven’t necessarily cracked Da Vinci’s Code, this insight into the human mind is pretty valuable when it comes to understanding what can make or break an individual’s purchasing decision. Now, put these three steps in action and create one very powerful door hanger.

This article originally appeared in Security Nation, 2013, Vol. 4

Tags:  consumer psychology  small business marketing 

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