Human psychology is incredibly interesting and useful. I love to read studies that expose answers to why we do what we do. They are often entertaining and enjoyable to read.
But it goes deeper than just enjoyment. I have two big reasons why I find this education helpful:
1. Learning why other people do what they do often leads to insights to why I do what I do.
2. Learning why people do what they do helps me become a more effective marketer.
Other People are Just Like Me
My first instinct when I read a psychological study is to explain how I am NOT like that focus group. The findings usually sound something like this: “95% of those surveyed responded like XYZ, and that makes them no more intelligent than a single-cell amoeba.”
So naturally, I need to separate myself from that group of people. I justify how I am not like that. I quickly scan my memory for situations when I behaved like the 5%, and I convince myself that I always act that way.
At first glance, I’m like the 5% more often than not. But even that can be exposed with a bit of psychology (Illusory Superiority) where 93% of US drivers rated themselves as “better than average”. Simple statistics will tell us that only 50% can be better than average. Right?
So. Justifying how I am NOT like the majority is about as pointless as a broken pencil.
There’s a more productive use of my brain. I much prefer to recognize the reality that I have these same tendencies, dig deeper into my identity, and find out why I do what I do. Understanding myself better than I did yesterday is growth. It leads to constant improvement, and further helps to encourage an upward spiral. Here’s my order of three priorities in my upward spiral. Note the first step:
Know Yourself → Understand Others → Master Your Purpose
People Buy the Same Way
Of course this isn’t absolute. Different people have different reasons to buy. But there are a set of common rules that drive people to buy what they buy, where they buy, and how they buy. In fact, purchases are typically emotional, backed by logic. That even stands true for me – a guy who, on occasion, has been mistaken for Mr. Spock because of my heavy lean toward the rational.
Back to the Psychology, this concept is covered at length in the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini. If you haven’t read it, then I
recommend demand you read it immediately. It’s probably the best marketing psychology book written. Definitely the best I’ve read.
So the point is this – learning psychology is hand in hand with marketing. If you know why people think how they think, then you know why they buy what they buy. It’s like getting the decoder ring in the cereal box. Once you have it, you can read the secret messages. And knowing that code means you can write your own code so they buy your products. …big caveat on the way…
Use these powers for good, not evil
The Information Age will continue to drive us toward a point where bad products don’t sell, no matter how well they are marketed. Got that? The times for developing an average product with a tricky sales message are over. Well, maybe not over, but they don’t have much life left. Use this education to sell only the best products possible. If you aren’t giving more value away, then tweak, upgrade, or overhaul your product until you are. Then use the marketing advice to reach the customers who desperately need your help.
If you are convinced that developing a cheap product and tricking people to buy it is the way to go, then enjoy your temporary, mediocre success. You’re about to be replaced by better, faster, stronger, cheaper, more helpful businesses.
PS, this was meant to be an introduction. I guess I felt strongly enough to make it its own Bobservation. Anyway, the point was this – I’m starting a series of blog posts about psychology studies. And how they influence me, as well as how they are used in business. I hope you enjoy!!