Understanding Human Behavior Can Improve Your Marketing Strategy

No matter how logical and calculated your approach to sales, the heart of every interaction is the relationship between you and your audience. And in order to really connect with people in that audience, you must first understand what instincts drive them when they’re buying. As human beings, we are less inclined to respond to tactics created with only numbers and hypotheticals in mind, and more likely to be responsive to messages that speak to instincts and our innate behaviors. While each buyer is unique, there are some core human tendencies, observed through psychology and sociology, that might help you better understand exactly what appeals to the majority of your market.

Loss Aversion

According to several reports in Psychology Today, people are more inclined to be afraid of the loss of something we already have than we are interested in gaining something new and unknown. When we find something we like and become attached, its value to us is heightened, and the prospect of losing it becomes more frightening than the potential and theoretical opportunity of gaining something else.

This might seem like a bad deal for companies just starting out or attempting to gain new clients, but it can be helpful to keep in mind when considering audience perspective. You can lower the risk of trying something new by providing free trials or resources, and this helps people get to know you and trust your company. Once you’ve secured that relationship, that same loss aversion becomes helpful to you in retaining your audience.

Self-Interest

When you’re creating your marketing strategy, it might come more naturally for you to focus on your own interests and your story. This is necessary for building your brand and audience trust, but you must also leave room for where your audience fits within that story. The same instinct you have to cater to your interests exists in each of us. We want to hear about ourselves, our interests and how we can be included. When crafting your message, think about your audience members — what their needs are, what their lives might be like — and then work your messaging around that. Put your audience at the center of your messaging.

Curiosity

People are naturally curious. This fact, according to a report by Tom Stafford of BBC Future, is more than just an observation. It is a biological and evolutionary predisposition explained by the theory of neoteny, which accounts for how human beings retain our child-like characteristics throughout our entire lives, including our curiosity. We want to learn about our world, to understand how we relate to it.

When it comes to integrating this tendency into your strategy, appeal to what many marketers call the “curiosity gap,” defined as the space between what we know and what we want to know. An eye-catching image with a brief but intriguing caption or a brief snippet of an article prompting the reader to “learn more” are some simple and effective examples of the curiosity gap. Don’t give away all of the information at once. Keep in mind what might genuinely encourage your own interest, and use that for inspiration.

Social Proof

Similar to the well-known bandwagon effect, social proof theory from psychologist Robert Cialdini speaks to the power of social influence. When people aren’t sure of what to do, they will often observe others and mimic their behavior. This is made stronger when those doing the influencing are knowledgeable in the area, or when a large number of people seem to all be doing the same thing. Try using analytic reports and any numbers that demonstrate the widespread reach of your company, spotlighting reviews that speak to the fact that others have used and been pleased with your service, or sharing articles on your area of expertise with your audience to establish that you are a reliable source of information.

At the end of the day, when you’re delivering your message to audience members, you are reaching out to them from one person to another, and there are many common behaviors we all share that govern how we understand and navigate the world. Take time to look into human behavior when you’re seeking inspiration for your next campaign and you may come away with some innovative and effective ideas.

About the author

Cherise Czaban

Cherise Czaban

Cherise Czaban is the publisher of i4 Business magazine and the CEO of i4 Business LLC. She formerly served as vice president of business development for SCB Marketing, the previous publishers of i4 Business.

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