“Do you expect me to talk?”
“No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to BUY!”
The latest installment of Bond just hit cinemas – and in this humble dork’s opinion, it’s an absolute belter. What better time, then, to talk some good old-fashioned espionage.
Step inside, dear reader, to the sales and marketing web of sin. What follows are the brain tricks, the honeypots, the psychological acts of subterfuge used by us in the marketing game to… influence… our targets.
If you’re not cut out for this world, leave now. Like every good villain, we’re going to outline our plots and schemes in painstakingly explicit detail, giving you ample opportunity to escape.
Still here? Good.
I’ve been expecting you.
10 Psychological Tricks Used in Sales and Marketing
Oftentimes, the sneakiest sales strategies are the ones that hide in plain sight. Case and point: decoy pricing.
You have three versions of the same product. The standard package, the deluxe package, and the Rolls Royce package – £4, £8, and £8.50, respectively.
Most people will go for the Rolls Royce, because it is “only 50 pence more” than the deluxe. We have no interest in selling the premium – it is a decoy that exists solely to boost the sales of the Rolls Royce.
The Ticking Time Bomb
‘Limited time only!’
‘Only three spots left!’
‘20 people currently have this in their cart!’
True or not, these kinds of statements create a crucial sense of urgency. Under the pressure of time, the buyer is more likely to cast caution to the wind and make the purchase.
Something for the Pain
Paying for stuff isn’t always a pleasant experience. We work hard for our money, and we will thus search for any excuse not to part with it.
It’s beneficial, therefore, to somehow remove the pain of paying. A great modern example of a company who has done this is Uber: rather than having to watch a taxi meter rise en route, customers can now transparently pay for the service in advance.
The more painless a transaction, the more frequently it will be fulfilled.
When it comes to pricing, every last detail matters – including whether a number is odd or even.
As research has demonstrated many times over, consumers are more likely to choose something with a price ending in an odd number, such as £0.95 or £3.99. For whatever reason, odd pricing appeals to one of the many curious quirks of the human brain.
Speaking of pricing…
Surely the most genius marketing tactic that has ever been conceived is the “£.99” phenomenon – otherwise known as charm pricing.
Charm pricing works because of the manner and speed in which our brain encodes numbers. We always read from left to right, so the first number we see is going to have the biggest impact on how we perceive a particular price.
By employing the £.99 charm, you can drop the left digit by 1, giving our fickle brains a lot more reason to make a purchase.
The Comma Killer
Another weird thing about the human brain when it comes to pricing: it’s not overly keen on commas.
For example, £1899 is more appealing than £1,899.
Commas, I want you to know this is nothing personal. It’s purely… business.
(Took me forever to think of a good heading for this one – imagine my delight when I saw that “bullet repayment” was an actual financial term!)
Basically, it’s better to show a price in installments rather than a lump sum. Consumers will subconsciously anchor onto a smaller price, even if they know it will total to the same price, making them more likely to go through with a purchase.
“Buy one, get one free.” It’s an unrivaled classic.
This cheesy one-liner compels people to buy things that they originally had NO intention of buying. Set the price high enough to cover the “free” item, and you’ve got yourself a particularly potent piece of marketing mischief.
Studies have shown that men are more likely to buy something when the prices are displayed on a red label.
Now, I don’t want to make any sweeping statements… but gentlemen, it would seem that we are all nothing more than a bunch of bullish, bestial, bloodthirsty barbarians.
Or it could just be that “red” usually means “discount”.
For Your Eyes Only
Tuxedo wearers, vodka-martini drinkers, sports car drivers – this one’s for you.
In some instances, we may present a “VIP” kind of offering – a premium, exclusive service that is only accessible to those with sufficient financial or social capital. To quote an American Express slogan from way back when, “Membership has its privileges”.
Esteem, status, prestige. Whether or not we care to admit it, these are things that we all desire.
We have barely scratched the surface of the sales and marketing underbelly – but that is all I am at liberty to disclose.
If you wish to learn more, I would encourage you to call 0115 677 1979, or to email email@example.com. But be warned: they are powerful people… and they ALWAYS deliver what they promise.
Tell them ‘J’ sent you.