4 Psychology Principles to Grow Your Business
Growing a business involves many touchpoints. But there’s one thing that remains constant across all business areas: people and the need to create strong connections. Leveraging psychology principles within your business is a great way to build stronger relationships and connections with your customers. This, in turn, helps to grow your business faster.
Here are a few ways entrepreneurs can use psychology principles to grow their business, starting with why it’s an essential skill set for business owners.
Why is psychology so crucial in the current business environment?
Today’s consumers are far savvier than they were before the Internet age. Previously, when consumers wanted to buy–for example, an oven–they would physically go to a shopping mall. Shopping assistants would then provide the information they needed to decide which range to buy.
Now, consumers will have thoroughly researched the product they want to buy and the brands who market it before they set foot in a store (or they’ll just order it online).
Since consumers do most of their product research and purchase online, brands need to employ a robust digital marketing strategy to reach their potential and current customers online.
However, successful digital marketing strategies are not just about putting up a website and posting a few Tweets. Instead, successful digital marketing is all about engaging with the customer, identifying their wants, desires, and fears, and letting them know that you intimately understand them and are there to help in any way that you can.
To get to know their customers, clever marketers and business owners use psychology principles to “get under the skin of their ideal consumer,” says Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative.
“There is a tremendous opportunity, which we’ve seen across every sector, to innovate and capture more markets by meeting the human need for meaning, the human need for these positive psychological attributes in the market.”
What about the ethical side of using psychology to sell?
The benefits of using psychology to sell are widely known and applied by many. However, there is also a dark side to using psychology for commercial means.
In Aaron’s interview with us, he mentioned the dark side where businesses can negatively impact and manipulate their customers—“effectively, it almost turns businesses into drug dealers.”
The dark side comes in when you start using psychology as a tool to manipulate or trick people into buying things they won’t want or need. Or if you’re selling services and products that aren’t as described.
An example that comes to mind was the mass exodus of millions of users from Facebook when it was rumored that the network was using people’s information and selling this to advertisers so that the latter could do more targeted advertising. This news sparked much controversy over the idea about whether or not personalized ads are ethical—from the consumer’s point of view, only 17% feel that they are.
Use of personalized information aside, Facebook has put various policies to ensure ethical advertising on their platform. For example, the guidelines prohibit content that includes illegal products or substances, discriminatory practices, unsafe substances (including tobacco and related products), adult content, sensational content, controversial content, and misinformation—naming just a few.
With these policies in place, it certainly does encourage ethical practices when it comes to advertising on the platforms. Outside of these platforms, however, it is up to the business to be responsible and keep their consumer’s best interests in mind at all times.
Let’s not forget that psychology is more than emotions
While a large part of using psychology to grow business hinges on emotions, it’s not explicitly about feelings. There are a few other ways to leverage psychology to connect with your audience.
For example, you can use it to reposition your competition, highlight your flaws, and promote exclusivity in your marketing.
Then there’s color psychology, which is a highly effective marketing tool. For example, we associate specific colors with trust and others with whimsy. The same applies to imagery. Your consumers form an instant impression of your brand based on its visual appearance—so carefully consider what visuals those are.
There’s also the psychology around the benefits of creating a community. Something that has gained even more importance during the pandemic. Online branded communities are becoming a popular marketing tool. A branded community is a great way to build trust and connection with your audience, hinging on the psychological need to “feel part of something.”
And let’s not forget about behavioral economics—a psychological practice that marketers have been using for decades. We all know about the “Buy three for the price of two” trick and the careful consideration behind the positioning of products on shelves.
There is so much power behind harnessing psychology to grow your business—from using it to create a more powerful connection with your customers to subtle hints in how you present your brand.
Four ways to use psychology in your business
There are various ways in which you can use psychology to create a stronger connection with your customers, here are four:
Tap into emotions in your marketing
We, humans, are emotional beings. We make most of our decisions using the automatic and subconscious part of our brains, which is often called our reptilian brain, which reacts quite heavily to emotions.
Emotional marketing is a way of persuading your audience using an emotional response or trigger. It draws out strong feelings such as happiness, anger, or guilt and is used in many ways—including brand awareness, sales, and customer retention.
The best way to incorporate emotions in your marketing is to understand your audience on a deeper level. From there, tell a story that you know they relate to on an emotional level. And always (ALWAYS) remain authentic. You can’t play with emotions or fake them and expect to get away with it.
Gamification uses principles developed to gain something—quests, stories, and badges—to motivate people to perform specific actions. A great application of this is using gamification in loyalty programs.
Using data to improve your UX
To improve your website’s user experience (UX), use tools such as heat mapping or Google Analytics to analyze how users interact with your site. For example, analyze what your customers are looking for, how they react to your messaging, where they leave your website, and where they are converted. All of this information can help you optimize your website further.
Have (and share) a purpose
“The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit.” – Richard Branson.
Consumers are increasingly seeking meaning and purpose in their lives. 63% of consumers prefer to purchase from purpose-driven brands–so, make sure you’re sharing your purpose with your consumers.
A powerful tool for business growth
Psychology is a potent tool that businesses can use to grow their reach among their target audience. However, brands need to use psychology carefully so that their target consumers don’t feel their privacy is invaded. There are many ways to use psychology responsibly, and it starts with keeping your consumers’ best interests in mind at all times.