Psychology is the cornerstone of all marketing – especially the psychology of persuasion.
Unfortunately, some marketing has evil potential. Think of cigarette ads of yesteryears or those Facebook ads where a digital marketing agency is guaranteed #1 on Google.
Nowadays, we see companies of all sizes promote unfair promises while hiding behind BS awards or previous successes but no growth of character or business since those awards or achievements.
Although these marketeers with evil intentions and practices exist, the remaining ones – thankfully the bulk of them – have positive intentions.
I once gravitated toward the malignant types, but learned my lessons and will only work with those of genuine and ethical purposes.
Happiness spreads, and it’s a marketer’s job to ultimately spread that happiness. Turbocharge it. Make it part of your personal, business, or agency’s mission statement.
The quickest route forward is to impress and influence for the good, which has a natural byproduct of happier people and increased ROI.
To do so, consider using the following psychological principles within your content marketing.
Many of the strategies discussed below are rooted in principles found in Robert B. Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. Read that book.
Then reread it.
And reread it again.
Its knowledge is worth more than that of any marketing degree – especially since many of the marketing principles taught in the university today are so last century.
1. Social Proof
Roughly eight-in-ten Americans say they consult online ratings and reviews when buying something for the first time.
That stat quickly displays the power of social proof.
The strength of reviews and ratings grow daily and will get stronger as technology improves across the world of digital marketing.
Besides the obvious – reviews, ratings, testimonies, and strong shares across social media channels like Facebook and Twitter – you can also create social proof in other ways.
As Cialdini explains in “Psychology of Persuasion”:
“The greater the number of people who find any idea correct, the more the idea will be correct.”
First is to influence an expert within your industry to recommend your brand.
The ideal situation?
Get mentioned by that expert within a speech or blog/article.
Think if you were doing cybersecurity for smaller businesses and got a mention by the Homeland Security. I’m sure your business would triple within a few weeks.
Also, never forget that authority influences social proof, and this authority can arrive in multiple ways – from being a best-selling author about a subject in your industry (think Anthony Robbins in personal development) or having one of your products positively reviewed by top-rated publication (Audi S5 positively reviewed by Car & Driver),
Other ways include guest contributions to major publications within your industry, such as what many do for Search Engine Journal. This is a social proof that gets ingrained within a client’s mindset and always keeps you, as John Hall says, “Top of Mind.”
A word on social media, though.
As smart marketers understand, vanity metrics run amok in the world of social media, whether it’s a profile with thousands of fake Facebook or Instagram likes, or a Twitter feed built upon nonsense.
Upping the proof on social media works for many audiences, especially those in the ecommerce world who sell clothes or baby products.
Second, use many case studies within your content marketing efforts, but don’t use vague terms like “real estate lawyer” or “motorcycle apparel manufacturer.”
Use direct quotes in case studies from real people – and the closer they are to the top of that organization, the better (think CEOs, CMOs or founders.)
2. Kill the Abstract Terms – Use Concrete Words
Ever read a finance report following quarterly earnings. The language is super abstract, saying things like “original findings” led to some “excellent results” that gave shareholders a “reasonable return.”
Blah. Can you envision any of that?
Most can’t, which is why we should kill off the abstract pairings of terms within our content marketing, and replace them with concrete pairings.
Think “fast motorcycle” or a “hot stove,” and you can visualize them. But what’s better is they stick around much longer in your prospective and current client’s memories.
This helps build “happy clients” over those that need “constant attention.”
The use of concrete wording goes back to the scientist Allan Paivio, a late professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario.
He created dual coding theory, which argues that two cognitive subsystems exist:
- One that represents and processes nonverbal objects – think imagery.
- One that is specialized for the representation of language.
Try it, especially on your main website messages and headlines. Leave the abstract terms to the financial writers and the painters.
3. Admit Previous Faults
When people admit their wrong about something or made a mistake upfront, others will feel empathetic toward them.
Honesty rules, especially in content marketing.
Say you started an insurance agency because you made some major mistakes on a claim back in the day. Those faults brought forward will earn the respect of readers.
This is fairly easy to do within any content marketing, and demonstrates integrity and allows you to stand out from the crowd.
Some are too ego-driven to admit their faults, and that is now a direct route towards psychologically appealing to a client or prospect’s trust and loyalty.
Rewatch Madmen and study Don Draper’s character. He was a master at admitting previous faults, which let him get deep into the psychology of those he was selling to (or, um, taking advantage of).
4. Kill the Jargon
When I create a content marketing strategy for a client, I discuss my “50/25/25 Blend” of topics. And 50% of those topics, whether the business is selling investment software or beauty products, are focused on those who know little or nothing about the services or products.
If your content marketing efforts are loaded with jargon, you’ll scare off many prospective clients.
The goal of engaging content marketing campaigns is to get those interested in your services/products, educate them, and guide them on a journey to becoming a client/customer.
And the more you continue to educate them, the stronger their loyalty will become.
Using jargon will insert psychological doubt into first-time readers. Keep things simple, and talk in their language.
5. Consistency in All Efforts
Finally, to appeal the most to your current and future clients, you must be consistent in your content marketing efforts. Don’t sporadically post a video or guest post; try to complete the process as consistently as possible.
Take blogging from a digital marketing agency, for example.
If I was seeking a blogging service from an agency, but the agency didn’t blog consistently on their business’s platform, where would my mind drift?
That’s an immediate red flag – how can an agency stand behind services that seemingly don’t believe in themselves?
As marketers, most of us are so focused on increasing customer happiness and ROI that we sometimes disregard the fundamental principles, such as strong customer service, or the more intense principles, such as using psychology to truly engage with a prospect.
These tactics above are simple but extremely useful, and used by the greatest of the great – think Apple, Nike, and Starbucks. They are brands that will undoubtedly continue to stand the test of time.
Model them when using psychology in your content marketing.
And again, don’t forget to read – or reread – Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. It’s definitely a marketer’s bible.
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