In this episode, I’m going to unpack 15 different psychological triggers and cognitive biases that we, as marketers, use on a pretty much daily basis to help influence and persuade and guide people in the direction that we want, which is typically to buy stuff. Now, if you have a business and want to get more customers, more clients, and more sales, these will help. And if you work for a business and want to get them more customers, more clients, and more sales, well, these will help.
And if you’ve ever shopped at a business, well, these cognitive biases and psychological triggers are important for you to know, so you can arm yourself against unethical and unscrupulous marketers trying to sell you things you just don’t need. But I must say, these principles, these psychological triggers, and these cognitive biases are so powerful that even when you know they’re actively being used against you, you still can’t stop them. Like some weird marketing magnet that just draws you in and takes all your money. All right, so let’s get to it. All right, so the first psychological trigger, a cognitive bias that you need to be aware of is something known as the halo effect.
Essentially, the halo effect is really just a fancy term for that first impression bias or the fact that the first impression that you have with a brand or a business or a person, while it’s going to influence all of your future interactions with that brand or person or business, and it’s going to influence them a lot. Basically, that first impression, that first exposure to a message or a person or a brand or a business is so heavily weighted that it’s going to color and influence and really direct all of your attitudes and beliefs and understandings about this person and about this business moving forward and well into the future, even if they’re wrong.
This is why as marketers, it is incredibly important to really make sure that you’re evaluating all of your marketing, specifically those first touch points, those first interactions that someone could have with your brand or with your business, and really make sure that you’re putting your best foot forward. But there’s another advantage as well to really making sure that you’re making a positive first impression with someone, and that is that it’s going to buffer against any future possible negative experiences.
And really, that’s where a lot of brand loyalty comes in is that if you’re able to get the relationship started on a really solid foundation and really get it started on that right foot, well, it’s going to help protect if something just doesn’t go quite right moving forward. Your client and your customer are still going to perceive you and your brand, and your business as more positive overall if that first impression worked out well. Thank you, halo effect. All right, and while on the topic of first impressions, the next cognitive bias we need to take a look at is the serial position effect.
The serial position effect essentially just says that the very first piece of information and the very last piece of information is going to be taken and remembered and viewed as far more important than basically everything else in the middle. This is why as a marketer, I’m so obsessive about the customer journey and about the marketing funnel and really dialing in not just every step, but specifically, that first step where we’re putting our foot forward. A lot of stuff about feet today, and introducing ourselves in the best way possible with a strong message and a really clear call to action, as well as that final piece of the puzzle, that final call to action that gets them to essentially take some purchasing or buying decision or whatever it is that’s in your conversion funnel.
In fact, I’m using the serial position effect right now. It’s the reason that I started out this video with the halo effect because I know that it’s an important one for you to remember and it’s going to help to guide you and push you in the direction of prioritizing your marketing, really making sure it’s dialed in. And then I’m going to wrap it all up with what I believe is one of the most important things that you need to be aware of as well so that it sticks in your memory. And on the topic of creating memorable experiences and things that are actually going to stick with and resonate with your clients, well, it leads us to the next psychological trigger, more cognitive bias known as the recency effect.
The recency effect essentially just says that we as humans, while we tend to give higher weight or more authority or more importance to the most recent bit of information that we’ve received rather than all the stuff we’ve heard before. This is the reason that one of the core strategies or core principles behind pretty much everything I do when I’m creating strategic marketing campaigns comes down to ways of increasing frequency and increasing touch points and essentially increasing the recency or how recently someone saw or heard or engaged with some marketing content.
To put this in perspective, let’s just say that we’re thinking about your client or your customer out there living their lives, doing their thing, and you’ve got your business and your competitor’s business both trying to get in front of them, both trying to win their business. Well, if one of you is going to be creating more content, more marketing, and more messages, there’s a higher chance that they’re going to see these things more recently, which is going to impact their decision-making and essentially evaluate the information they get more recently as more valuable.
I think that all made sense. Basically, if they see your stuff most recently, they’re going to think it’s more important. But there’s another way that you can take advantage of that cognitive bias and turn it up a notch, making it even more effective with our next psychological trigger known as the mere exposure effect. Essentially, what the mere exposure effect says is that the more somebody sees something, the more familiar they are with it, the more often you’re appearing in front of your clients and in front of your customers, well, the more they’re going to naturally like you and trust you.
Both of these are unsurprisingly, incredibly important to build a solid and sustainable business. So by trying to appear more often in front of your customers and in front of your clients, you get to kill two birds with one stone. What a terribly morbid analogy. You get to show up more recently, meaning that they’re going to trust your message and view it as more important and hold more weight. And you’re also going to take advantage of the mere exposure effect by showing up more often, which naturally leads to an increase in likability and trust.
This is why when it comes to marketing, more really is more, especially if we’re trying to increase the frequency and increase touch points. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to create completely unique content across all of the different platforms. You can reshare and recycle and take away pieces from different parts and share them on different networks and automate the entire process so the whole thing happens on autopilot behind the scenes. But you do need to do it. And this means a little bit of groundwork right up front to set up the whole system, and then it can serve you for weeks, months, and maybe even years to come.
All right, now let’s hit our next one, which is all about loss aversion. This one is relatively simple and should come as no surprise that people hate missing out on stuff. Fomo or the fear of missing out, that’s real. This is why one of the most important and one of the most valuable tools that you have at your disposal as a business owner, an entrepreneur, or a marketer is using some form of scarcity or urgency or essentially some incentive that’s going to disappear if they don’t take action and take action soon. What this means is setting some deadlines or some limited supply. Obviously, make it real, make it genuine, make it authentic.
There’s no room for fake deadline timers or any of that nonsense here. But given the option of taking action now or putting it off until later, most people put it off till later, and typically later means never. All right, next, let’s take a look at the compromise effect. Now, the compromise effect essentially just says that, well, people are busy and got a lot of decisions to make, and often it’s hard, if not impossible, to evaluate all kinds of different selections and options and criteria.
So if given the choice, they’ll tend to compromise. What this means for you is that if you have a product or a service or something you’re trying to sell, well, you’re typically better to break it into two or three different options, maybe a low-priced option, a middle-priced option, and then a high-priced option. The key here is to put the one that you want to sell most in the middle as the compromise option, essentially, because this is the one that’s going to get the most clicks, the most traction, and the most sales. There’s an added bonus as well in that by having a higher priced option, well, you’re going to capture 10 to 20 % of the market that always wants the premium option and 10 to 20 % of the market that always wants the budget-friendly or more economical option.
And there’s a way you can make that middle option, the compromise option, even more, appealing simply by labeling it most popular, which takes advantage of the bandwagon effect. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll get to that in just a second. The other way to make that middle-priced option seem that much more valuable and that much more of a good deal is by putting that higher priced option, well, quite a bit higher, and taking advantage of a principle known as anchoring.
Essentially, what anchoring does is it takes advantage of the first piece of information or the first price that someone sees as a mental anchor that they’re going to use to compare all future prices or future options against. This is why if the first price that you can present to someone is incredibly high or incredibly expensive, well, everything that comes after that is going to seem a whole lot more budget-friendly, and a whole lot more approachable. Plus, when comparing things side by side, let’s say you do have those three different priced options, and the high-priced option, which was anchored first, is just incredibly high priced, well, it’ll make that compromise option seem like a really good deal.
Plus anchoring, like most of the psychological triggers and cognitive biases I’m sharing with you here today, well, there’s a little bit of overlap between the serial position effect, which gives more weight to the first and last pieces of information someone sees, as well as the recency effect, which is the most recent piece of information that someone’s heard. Basically, with anchoring, like with the serial position or with the recency effect, people tend to be a little over-reliant on this information, which again, biases their future decision-making.
Okay, let’s move on to the next one, which is all about choice overload. So in the previous couple of examples, we talked about three different options, low price, middle price, and high price. But what if you want to go more? What if you want all the prices, all the choices, all the options? Well, you may be shooting yourself in the foot. This is because when we have too many choices, well, essentially.