The Psychology of Instant Gratification and How It Will Revolutionize Your Marketing Approach
What is your marketing approach and how well is it serving you?
Marketing efforts are crucial in any business. If marketers do a good job and sales increase, everyone is happy. If the sales go down, marketers are one of those to be questioned.
The marketing industry is also shifting and trends change very quickly.
In the recent past, some changes have been happening.
For example, in the area of content, there has been a shift from purely textual content and now images and video are a must.
More recently, the AR and VR technologies have been adopted into marketing.
These two technologies are changing marketing in big ways, especially VR.
Still, there is one thing that seems to remain constant.
Any changes in it can only be towards an increase in intensity but not a replacement.
That thing is instant gratification.
What is instant gratification?
Instant gratification is the response or reaction of the brain when it gets what it wants. It is mainly an emotional response to the satisfaction of a desire.
Whenever you desire something and you get it, you experience pleasure as a result.
That pleasure is registered in your brain and since pleasurable experiences are more preferred, you end up desiring more of such experiences.
This naturally pushes you to want to get the things which make you happy.
Even if the happiness will only last a short while.
In some cases, the experience will even cost you more, but the power of emotions often beats the power of logic.
This is how many people end up doing things which bring them short-term happiness at the expense of long-term benefits of restraining themselves.
Consider the below examples of instant gratification:
- Hitting the snooze button instead of waking up – you know very well that you ought to wake up and prepare for work or exercise. These are important if you are to achieve your life goals. Instead, you choose to sleep for just 5 more minutes, only to end up doing so for 1 hour.
Despite this happening many times, and you remember it the next morning, you still follow the same path. Of course, the more you do it the more your brain strengthens that habit. But at the core of it all, is a desire to sleep more and work less.
- Eating fast foods instead of healthy foods – you probably decided that you want to become healthier this year. You promised yourself, and maybe your friend or spouse too, that you’ll stop eating junk food.
But driving by McDonald’s could be the biggest temptation for you. You know you can have something better at home. You know the health benefits of home-made food and the health dangers of the fries and burgers. But you still go for the fries.
- Watching film series on a work night instead of sleeping early – “Have you watched it?” asks your friend. And it doesn’t take long to decide that you’ll watch the latest TV series tonight. It’s a busy day and you figure out that you need some rest.
What are the pros and cons? It’s obvious the pros of sleep outweigh those of watching the series. In any case, you can watch anything you want over the weekend.
But strangely, you somehow can’t wait. You would rather sacrifice your sleep for entertainment tonight.
These are common examples of decisions made daily throughout the world.
Decisions which despite being known to be wrong, are nonetheless made and implemented.
It’s the world of instant gratification. People want good experiences now.
Even when the experiences can wait, they would rather have them now.
USING INSTANT GRATIFICATION FOR MARKETING
Instant gratification is a powerful force and when you use it in your marketing campaigns, you’re sure to reap the benefits.
All you have to do is give your customers and prospects what they want—instantly or soonest possible.
This can take different forms.
It may be providing something immediately, for example a download. It can also take the form of providing it quickly such that, compared to the time it would have naturally taken, your delivery gets considered instant.
Let’s look at some ways you can implement this.
Use the “Now” Messaging Tactic
Since it’s all about immediate satisfaction, you can show your ability and willingness to provide it using certain words.
And the best word to use is “Now.”
It can’t get any more instant than now.
Some alternatives include “immediately,” “today,” “right now” and “don’t wait!”
Using these words will create the impression that the benefit to be enjoyed is available immediately.
This is a powerful message to your customers.
Let’s look at an example. You will notice that these are common usages as you have most likely seen them. You may even have fallen for the “trick” going for the expected benefits.
A Blog Example
Blogs have become the epicenter of communications for companies.
As much as there are interactions on social media, they often reference blog articles.
This happens through companies posting links on their social media pages of articles on their blog.
They want you to visit their blogs. The more you visit their blogs, the better for them.
One of the biggest reasons is that it increases their online credibility which in turn improves their search engine ratings.
Improving your search engine ratings has many benefits.
It can both directly and indirectly increase your chances of getting more leads. With more leads, you have potentially more customers, resulting in higher sales and higher profits. This means business is good.
But as always, the competition is tough. You’re not the only one with this knowledge or the only one going after these customers. So what do you do?
You look for something to offer your blog visitors. This has to be something you’re sure they will love.
Assuming you are giving away an e-book, here are two messages you could use.
Download our free e-book and learn how to cook great meals.
Get this FREE e-book NOW and become a master chef!
Apart from the difference in capitalization and number of words, do you notice something? Does the message sound the same in the two sentences?
As much as both sentences convey a similar message, the second one does a better job in convincing the visitor to download the e-book. Here is a short analysis of the interpretation of the two messages:
- Get vs Download – you have to ask yourself some questions here. Do people prefer working for something or getting something? Obviously, people prefer getting something. The less work involved, the better. The word “get” implies that there is little effort involved.
Both the words “Download” and “Get” are verbs as used here, so there is action involved. But when you tell someone to download something, they ask themselves some questions.
What is the size of the e-book? Do I have enough space to save it? How long will I wait for it to download? Is it worth the wait?
Telling them to “get” may also be subject to questions. But given the above four questions, you will at least reduce the number to zero. Getting says that it’s just a matter of taking it and reading it. But downloading brings about questions of internet speed, extra web pages loading, ads etc.
- Capitalization – the word “free” is in both sentences. But when it’s capitalized in the second one, there is emphasis. No visitor will read that sentence and miss out the word. There have been many studies pointing to the desire for consumers to get free stuff.
When you selectively use capitalization, it brings out the message better. It becomes clear that there are no costs involved.
- Using the word “NOW” – this is where it gets interesting and the pleasure principle gets to work. Nothing beats getting something now, at least for the majority of people. And the best thing is, even if the material was not the best, at least the visitor didn’t wait for long to prove it.
From the visitor’s perspective, they didn’t take too long to be able to rate the book. Remember that the point is to get the book downloaded.
The issue of the content being worthy is a different one—important all the same. And you have the responsibility to ensure your content is of value.
The important thing here is that the visitor got the book as soon as possible. In other words, he got it NOW.
That’s what he wanted and he got it because you provided the means to it.
When he leaves your blog, he can testify that he got what he wanted.
If you made the material good and through it convinced the reader that you’re worth buying from, then he will become your customer. And what he experienced, he will share with others too.
- Doing something vs becoming someone – the other thing that comes out in the second sentence is the promise of becoming someone. In comparison, the first sentence promises the ability to do something. Which is better?
The ability to do something might be temporal. It may come with much excitement but the ability may not materialize always, especially in view of challenges.
For instance, you might have the ability to prepare great meals, but what if they take longer than you expect?
In contrast, think about becoming a master chef. Preparing great meals becomes a natural ability you possess. If you are to prepare a meal which takes time, your mastery will help you develop a way around the time issue.
This is why it’s easy for those into cooking to develop new recipes compared to us who only cook for the sake of eating. For them, there is satisfaction in the cooking.
They will even be happy to just cook for others without having to eat.
Thus, the second sentence has a better promise than the first one.
And for that reason, it will get you what you want, whether it is email addresses, registrations for a class etc.
Make Big (but Attainable) Promises
Along the lines of making promises, part of winning using instant gratification is through big promises.
The key word here is “big.” But be careful not to over-do it. You cannot afford to lie to your customers and prospects. You’re better off gaining trust slowly than fast then losing it.
Whatever promise you make, it has to be attainable. Don’t just be sensational about it.
Before claiming that the product you’re offering will improve the life of someone, test it.
Have you used it yourself? Do you personally know someone who has used it? Did it make the difference you are claiming it will make?
Be sure to handle this part of the campaign well and ascertain the attainability of the promise. From there, you can go ahead and make the big promise.
If there is one thing you need to keep in mind all along, is that instant gratification must provide two things. The desirable thing and the immediate means to get it.
For a successful promise in your marketing campaign, these two ingredients are a must:
1. The end result – promises are things which you have been assured of getting at a later time. Parents often promise their kids gifts for good performance in school. Managers promise employees rewards e.g. promotions, for improved productivity. Promises are all over.
But what makes one promise stand out from others is the value it holds. And the value it holds has to do with the current situation someone is in and how it affects them. Once you know how bad the situation in someone’s life is, then you’re better able to make a big and relevant promise.
2. The short time frame – making a big and relevant promise is one thing, but attaining it is different. Attaining a promise can be affected by either the difficulty involved or the time required.
The difficulty involved should be dealt with at the product or service production level. Whatever you offer should make it easy to achieve the end goal. There should be no inconveniences which customers must endure for the sake of getting the result.
After making the usage of the product convenient, then make it deliver in record time. If other solutions give results after a month, let yours do so after two weeks.
If others solve the problem in 3 months, do so in one. Just make sure the results are permanent and of high quality.
A Toothpaste Example
There are many toothpaste manufacturers but one of the most popular is Colgate-Palmolive.
This is a big conglomerate that has been in business since 1928, although the beginnings date as far back as 1806.
There is one toothpaste produced by this company and it’s called Colgate Optic White.
This is meant for whitening teeth more than any other toothpaste made by the brand.
Among the toothpastes under the “Optic White” label, one called Express White promises to whiten teeth in just 3 days. Clearly, the product is meant for impatient consumers. And it happens that there are many of those.
For obvious legal reasons, they company was careful enough to provide some explanation to their claim.
There are conditions to be met in order to achieve the “4 Shades visibly whiter teeth” goal.
And going by some comments on the product’s page, the product works as marketed—at least for some people.
If you wanted to have whiter teeth and you saw that tube, wouldn’t you buy it? Especially if you’ve struggled getting your teeth whiter for some time?
That’s the same thing that happens when you tell people that the promise you’re making won’t keep them waiting.
The more they wait, the more frustrated they become and start doubting your ability to keep your word.
One of the commonest ways of satisfying consumers instantly is by giving them the opportunity to buy anything instantly. This is achieved through e-commerce.
If you can set up an online store for your products and/or services, you’re on your way there.
And here’s the interesting bit: even for physical products, knowing that the delivery will arrive 2 days later doesn’t make it less satisfying.
They have already bought it and so they own it.
This is opposed to the need to wait 2 days before going to the store to buy the product. And to prove that they own it, they can call the company and ask about “their” purchase. Even the seller refers to it as such.
Have you seen the words, “Click here to track your delivery” on online stores? As long as the transaction is over, the product is yours.
If you look at the success of Amazon, you’ll understand how this works. In fact, it works so well that Amazon is taking things a notch higher. They are already doing same-day deliveries. Can things get any better than that?
It has been reported that Amazon is also planning to use drones for deliveries. So now it’s not only faster, but also more fun.
Drone deliveries promise faster and convenient purchases and even before Amazon gets started, someone else already is. If you sell any product, you can consider using Flirtey for drone deliveries to your customers in record time.
Running an online store is one way of telling customers that they can get what they want immediately.
Of course, there are many things which go into running a successful online store.
And one of them, to ensure instant gratification is not hindered, is to make your site load faster. Also design the checkout process to be quick.
Provide 24/7 Chat and Phone Support
Every business hoping to have loyal customers must invest heavily in customer relationship.
This may include having a CRM system as well as having a dedicated team offering customer support.
But this may not be enough.
As we become more of a global community and business look for customers all over the world, the issue of time zones becomes real.
Take for instance a business located in Seattle, Washington. It operates during the day and closes in the evening. This business manages to get two new customers. One lives in the neighborhood while the other is in South Korea. This is a SaaS (Software as a Service) business.
The American customer is an entrepreneur looking to launch his startup and needs the software part to be up and running.
So he buys the service and faces some challenges during set up. It’s 2.00 AM (entrepreneurs often work odd hours) and he needs assistance.
Does he wait six hours to get one of your staff to help him set up? And this is the same person who bought your service because your website said “Get started NOW?”
Unless he can’t get a better deal elsewhere, waiting may not be an option.
Consider the South Korean customer. The local time in his country is 16 hours ahead of the Seattle business. He wakes up in the morning, searches for a SaaS solution and likes the Seattle-based solution. Just like the American entrepreneur, he faces challenges, what does he do?
To keep these customers, you have to go an extra mile. Understanding that the global economy is a 24/7 economy, implement solutions which will handle all customers.
If hiring a 24/7 customer support team is not feasible, go the technology way and implement a chatbot.
You can also use the services of customer support agencies. They will learn your products and services then supplement your daytime staff.
When a customer wants help, he seeks to get it immediately.
In many cases, they have left other solution providers, believing that you’re the best. Can you really afford to disappoint them?
Include AR in Your Strategy
If you want to sustain your customers’ loyalty, you have to keep giving them great experiences. And what else provides infinite possibilities if not technology?
The Augmented Reality technology offers a great marketing tool. AR is no longer a strange Sci-Fi idea but a reality many businesses have embraced.
It’s ability to enhance the physical environment by adding other things to it is what makes it great.
How do you use this for marketing?
Buying new shoes example
Imagine that you want to buy a new pair of shoes. Where do you check first?
If yes, then you took the bait. That’s instant gratification at work (ref: section on selling online).
Anyway, Amazon is a big success and who doesn’t like the convenience of online shopping?
So, you do your search and find a cool pair. You instantly like it and want to buy it NOW.
The size is what you know your size is and the color is just perfect. But something is missing.
Is this really the best pair? How will you look in these new shoes?
Well, there’s only one way to find out. Buy, have them delivered and fit to see how you look.
But what if it doesn’t turn out as great as you thought?
Well, one company has the solution to that. And it’s not just another company. This is one you certainly know. You probably have owned some pairs of shoes made by them.
Who are they?
Converse used AR to develop an app which helps you see how the shoes you want to buy will look on you even before buying. Check out the video below.
Talk of instant gratification.
Converse gives potential customers the ability to “wear” their shoes and show them off on their social media pages.
This is one perfectly-crafted marketing strategy. It gives prospective customers the opportunity to enjoy the new shoes NOW. And as they enjoy and brag about “their” new shoes, they market the product by sharing the photos.
The hype will make others download the app and use it. More downloads mean people are loving the app and the experience.
What’s the next logical step after enjoying the experience and saying you have shoes you don’t really have? Is it not buying?
Both the customer and business get what they want. The customer gets his shoes as the business gets the sales it wanted.
It’s a win-win situation.
Instant gratification will not be phased out by evolution or technology. If anything, as technology gives us a faster life, instant gratification can only increase.
As a business owner or marketer, you will do well to tap into this. Know what exactly your target market wants, produce it then craft the right message about it. You will then realize that consumer desires and business growth are related after all.