How to Make Your Marketing Cut through the Clutter by Combining Human Psychology with Consumer Behavior
The modern world is perfect for businesses in many ways.
Thanks to technology, customers have never been so accessible. Most of us have access to a gadget or two and research indicates that, by 2020, 6.1 billion people will own a smartphone.
We’re constantly on the internet and, what’s more, we’re very much at ease with buying stuff on the web. In fact, 70% of adults feel comfortable giving away personal information.
So,whereas in years gone by, companies had to resort to shouty billboards, intrusive flyers and cold calling, nowadays it’s different…
… global advertising has never been so easy.
Businesses that digitally market their products and services have a plethora of potential customers just a click or a swipe away.
But the news isn’t all good; there are a couple of huge barriers in the way of success.
Firstly, competition for attention is tough.
Customers are easily accessible, but they’re easily accessible for everyone.
There are well over 1 billion websites in existence. Content marketing has caught on and, all of a sudden, everyone’s become a publisher. The reality is, pretty much every business has some sort of digital presence.
They’re all hammering out content, hoping that something sticks.
Plus, if that wasn’t enough, companies can also call upon social media, paid advertising, email marketing and search marketing.
The result? There’s a lot of noise out there.
The second issue is that, because there’s so much advertising getting pushed out 24/7, people are starting to get a little annoyed.
Producing content for the sake of it isn’t a good play, because although consumers still love content, they’re getting pickier about the content that they doengage with.
And they’re stats from just 3 areas. I’ve not even touched on content generated from all the other types of marketing strategies out there.
Consumers are consistently being bombarded with various forms of messaging, intrusive or otherwise.
In a nutshell, it’s getting harder and harder for businesses to stand out from the crowd.
How can you make sure that your marketing content gets seen ahead of anyone else’s? How can you enhance your brand and become memorable?
This blog post aims to solve that issue. I’m going to closely examine how successful companies use a deep understanding of what makes us tick when they market their products and services.
And I’m also going to give you a simple 4-step plan to implement for your own business.
What can businesses do to get noticed?
For starters, they can get real.
The majority of firms don’t prioritize their audience nearly enough. Whilst they might care about them to a certain extent, they don’t provide a digital experience that satisfies their needs.
They don’t seem to understand human nature, or consumer behavior.
I’ve got over 20 years of copywriting experience and, when I’m approached by a client who wants their website copy rewritten, I tend to see the same issue over and over again.
Businesses love to talk about themselves.
Some have 100 years of history.
Some have various accreditations from sources no one’s heard of.
Some offer a range of products and services that solve problems you never knew existed.
The point is, websites are often crammed full of copy that’s only meaningful to the business.
The same applies to much of the marketing content you see out there.
One of the most important things about copy is that it’s used to convey meaning. Understandably, website owners sometimes have a lot to say. Product USPs, credentials, testimonials and suchlike.
However, if you’ve got a website that isn’t delivering traffic and sales, it might pay to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
What a business has to say isn’t important; what a customer needs to hear is.
I find that I frequently have to reframe website copy so that the site is more geared towards delivering value to potential customers.
That means doing two things:
- Understanding human psychology
- Understanding consumer behavior
What do we know about human psychology?
The human brain may well be the most complex structure in the universe.
However, in business, our minds are much simpler.
According to Tony Robbins, there are only 6 basic needs that make us tick.
- Comfort and certainty
- Variety and uncertainty
- Love and connection
What does this mean for marketing?
Well, it means that businesses should communicate these elements in their messaging [although not necessarily at the same time].
Comfort and certainty
People like to feel safe and secure. Products or services that tick these boxes stand the test of time. That’s why we love 100% money back guarantees and thorough FAQs.
As a service provider that needs to convey reliability, Dropbox convinces with it’s comforting copy.
Referring to uploading photos, they say:
“Backup your vacation photos automatically from your phone or computer. That way, memories are safe as soon as you make them, and you can relive them from any device.”
Note the use of the word ‘memories’.
It subconsciously attaches more meaning and sensitivity to the issue here. It implies that a photo isn’t just a file. It’s worth much more than that.
Variety and uncertainty
Because we’re strange little creatures, we frequently respond to edgy brands that accentuate feelings of risk. Marketing collateral that addresses elements of future danger is often extremely effective.
Dove’s ‘real beauty’ campaign highlighted what ‘real’ women look like [as opposed to relying airbrushed images in their advertising, like most beauty brands].
It was a very different approach that got people talking.
Ever been cold-called? Or received an impersonal email? There’s nothing more annoying than being ‘templated’. Sending segmented, personal marketing at scale is a challenge, but one worth tackling.
McDonald’s is a business that recognizes the important of segmentation. They tailor their menus [and marketing] for different countries.
Love and connection
Essentially, we all want to be happy. And we also all try to make sense of things. It’s a basic human need to rationalize seemingly random facts and stories.
But by focusing on connecting with your audience, you can create amazing brand loyalty.
Robinsons did a fantastic job of leveraging emotion with this ad:
Whether we’re talking about personal growth or the growth of a business, humans love targets and goals. Standing still is every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare.
It’s why we love articles that examine how talented people achieved their success.
What is your business contributing to society? We may not realize it fully, but providing value is incredibly rewarding. So much so, our brains urge us to do exactly that.
My old company Sky has been carbon neutral for 10 years. It’s not the first requirement for a media company, but it’s certainly something worth shouting about:
And what about consumer behavior?
Because our brains can be fairly predictable, so can a lot of our behavior and tendencies.
There is a bunch of shopper marketing tactics that businesses can employ.
For bricks and mortar businesses, that means addressing brand point-of-sale and trade marketing strategies.
These are the ones you see every time you walk into a store:
Consumer behavior is heavily influenced by the smallest of factors, such as the color of a sign or the height of a product.
For digital businesses, that consumer behavior is more metric-based.
Who is visiting your website?
Do you have a search presence?
What landing pages are designed well?
What is your bounce rate?
Are you growing an email list?
Is your social media presence delivering?
Are website visitors clicking where you want them to click?
Is your copy engaging?
Just like in a retail environment, a digital business must analyze the behavior of the people browsing and buying.
Putting everything together into an action plan.
Here’s a very simple 4-step plan that’ll help you create marketing content that combines human psychology and consumer behavior.
Step 1: Find out who your audience actually is.
Before attempting to understand your audience, it would help to initially confirm your targets.
Because that’s the funny thing about digital business – we all think that we know to whom we’re talking to…
… but the reality can often be quite surprising.
Thankfully, you can access a lot of website data for free.
Head to Alexa and enter your website into their search bar:
On the results page, you’ll be able to see all sorts of information, like:
- How your website traffic is finding you
- The country that your audience lives
- How old they are
- Their browsing location
- What their income is
That sort of intelligence is crucial for creating marketing messages that resonate.
Step 2: Segment your audience.
To make use of that information, your next step should be to segment your targets into different groups.
The human brain is predictable, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re all different. Yup, we have a variety of likes, dislikes, cultures, beliefs and values.
As such, it’s a bad idea to use the same copy, images and positioning throughout all forms of marketing collateral.
Instead, as difficult as it may be to deliver, bespoke advertising will always work best.
Accurately segmenting your audience and using strategies like ethnic marketing will reap the rewards in the long run.
Relevancy is everything. Take blogging alone. Businesses know that content creation is important, but most companies just focus on volume.
They pump out daily articles, sometimes more, because they’re seduced by stats. It might be true that 82% of consumers enjoy reading content from brands, but people will only care if that content is relevant.
Obviously you can segment to your heart’s content, but realistically, time is going to be an issue. Small businesses and start-ups aren’t going to be able to create multiple marketing campaigns.
I’ve found that most markets can be comfortably divided into 4-5 different sectors. How you divide your audience depends on the results of step 1, plus your general industry knowledge.
Age might be one factor. Maybe location is another. Perhaps income level, education or social media preferences are others.
Less that 4 groups and you’re probably not being specific enough. More than 5 and you’re going to need a fair amount of resources.
Step 3: Do your market research.
Before executing any marketing campaign, it’s important to thoroughly research your market.
What does your demographic require? What are their needs and how much are they prepared to spend on a solution?
Where does your target audience currently go to for help or information?
Are other competitors selling something similar? What are they doing well? Are there any holes in their offers that you can fill?
Step 4: Map out your content accordingly.
Now it’s time to take what you know about your current audience and your market and create marketing messages that work for each group.
The only left thing to remember is to analyze all the results, iterate and improve as time goes on.
As the saying goes, one accurate measurement is worth a thousand opinions.
Ultimately, successful brands understand all the intricacies we’ve covered here.
Whether we’re talking about a strategically placed comma, the color of some packaging or a tempting discount, big companies market to us in ways we often don’t even notice.
And, by applying a little bit of science to your strategies, your business can cut through the clutter and get noticed too.
About the author
Matt Press is an experienced copywriter who has written words for some of the UK’s biggest brands, such as Sky, Three and Vodafone. He now runs his own content marketing agency, Splash Copywriters.