How do you persuade people? If the goal of marketing is to persuade people to think or to act in a certain way then how do marketers achieve this goal? Marketing is all about people so if you want to become better at marketing you want to understand human psychology. Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Everyone who majors in marketing should also major in psychology. You can't become a great marketer without understanding basic human psychology.
The first step of persuasion is understanding motivation. The motivation of your customers and prospects can provide critical insights into how to structure your marketing strategy. Often, human motivations are irrational, unknown, emotional, and unconscious for people themselves.
In his book, Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely shows how many decisions we make in life are driven by irrational rather than rational factors. People act irrationally because their emotions have a tremendous impact on the decision-making process. We often act and make decisions based on our emotions and only then look for rational reasons to support these decisions. In other words, it is likely that you purchased your car because it was available in your favorite shade of blue. Later, you will tell your friends that you bought this car because it's a four-wheel drive and has high miles per gallon.
Emotional decisions get rationalized. This is why it can be counterproductive to ask customers what they want or what problems they need to solve. You will get a rational response that won't help you understand how to address a customer's actual needs.
Certainly, you need to consider rational factors when evaluating customer motivation. This is especially true when we talk about B2B or enterprise SaaS industries. What makes the B2B market unique is the fact that the buying manager has to fulfill both a personal and an organizational need. In B2B we still sell products to individual consumers. These buying managers are exposed to customer experience in the consumer market that is much better in many cases. It sets the standard for high customer expectations.
Psychology is an enormous discipline and a deep dive is outside of the scope of this book. But what is crucial to understand is that psychology is the essential and most hidden part of any marketing program. Every marketing strategy should take into account not only rational factors but also emotional elements. Even if you’re selling a B2B product, you must address the emotional needs of your decision-maker, end-user, and influencer. Later we will discuss how a strong brand can communicate emotional values. But let's touch on how a story can help create an emotional connection with customers and persuade them to take action.
Storytelling is one of the oldest art forms. Our ancestors told each other stories to teach something or give a warning. It’s one thing to be told that you shouldn't eat a poisonous plant and it's another thing to hear an emotional and heartbreaking story about how your relative died consuming this plant. A story is more memorable than a statement to act. Facts are dry and forgettable. Stories bring an emotional element that helps an audience remember the core message.
And since we’re on the topic of storytelling and history, let's talk about the best marketing book ever written - The Bible. It's a collection of stories that are supposed to teach us something. Whatever your view on religion (mine happens to be a negative one), you have to admire how Christianity has been marketed over the last couple of thousand years. Charismatic and visionary leader — check. Great story and messaging — check. Effective PR and field sales team — check. Healthy customer retention rates — check. Great monetization and business model — check.
Stories help us remember and get emotionally attached to the concept, character, or even product. Stories are memorable and easy to share. You get people's attention with stories by making people care. And finally, stories are the most effective way to persuade people while connecting with them on an emotional level.
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