5 Psychological needs that influence behavior

The dangers of advertising that does not engage the target audience are immediate low response and long-term disinterest in future brand communications. Psychological research increasingly endorses the presumption that emotions inform logic, rather than the other way around. Even without the research, many advertising professional’s emphasized creative and message components pointing at emotions. The research now exists to categorize emotions that are important to most consumers in a decision-making process.
Psychological needs that influence behavior (1):

  • Social Proof: predisposition to conform to social norms and do what others around us are doing.
  • Loss Aversion: desire to avoid loss is greater than the desire to gain.
  • Anchoring: judging options based on the first piece of information in hand, comparing pairings of options as they come along. (Looking for a deal)
  • Foot-in-the-Door: agreeing to a small task/item makes it harder to say no to a larger request later.
  • Authority: authority figures/sources are more persuasive than anonymous ones.
    1. Thought Leadership – become an expert
    2. Collaborate with big names/prestige organizations – the halo effect

Following are questions that should be addressed in order to effectively use this understanding of human nature to guide marketing communications so that they make appropriate emotional connections:
What is the best sequence in which to present these influencers?

  1. It depends upon the presumed starting point of the intended message recipient.
  2. Which order will get the target to feel a connection and start reading through the piece?
  3. Which order will get the target to take the desired next step?

Are all of the five influencers equally needed for the situation?

  1. It depends upon how near to making a decision the target is. The nearer to a decision a person is, the more steps they have taken toward buying a product in a category, the easier specific psychological needs can shift preference from one product to another.
  2. If a prospect has to be lured away from a previously established behavior pattern, perhaps all influencers are needed, but the order and emphasis may be important.

The line between loss aversion and being influenced by the offer of a deal is thin, but significant. The risk of things lost may not be immediately translatable into money, and yet be of much greater importance to consumers: Safety, Predictability, Convenience, and Prestige/Honor. People will do a lot to avoid being injured, suffering property loss, or being shamed. In comparison, a bargain is appealing, but not nearly as powerful. Yet the presentation of risks requires delicacy so as not to scare prospects away. One followed by the other can be very powerful: ‘avoid a loss and achieve a savings’ is a good sales formula.
These five needs can be used as a useful scoring system for setting marketing communications goals. Look back at previous campaigns and determine how many needs were addressed? And scrutinize your future campaigns while in planning mode to see how many psychological needs they will address.
Credit: (1) White paper by Pardot – Using Psychology to Increase Conversions
Link to access paper: http://www.pardot.com/whitepapers/using-psychology-to-increase-conversions/

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