Psychology of Marketing

Tapping into the Mindset of Your Potential Buyers

When it comes to being a successful marketer, it’s essential to understand why and how people think and act. It’s much more difficult to try and come up with creative and compelling content marketing if you don’t know what would compel your potential audience in the first place.

Before jumping on board and getting down into the inner workings of marketing it’s helpful to learn how people really operate. Understanding a few key principles of psychology can help make your marketing go from good to superb! Because when the right audience is reading and identifying with your content they are more likely to become a buyer, instead of just a potential one.

To attract, convince and convert more potential buyers into buyers with your marketing you really should understand the basics in the following psychology lessons.


Have you ever been a participant in the game where someone says one word and you immediately say the word that comes to mind? This is relevant to how priming operates. When you are exposed to one stimulus, this then affects how you respond to another. Priming refers directly to activating a certain representation in memory before carrying out a task or action. For example, according to Psychology Today, when a person sees the word “Yellow” they will be faster to recognize the word “banana”. This is because yellow and banana are associated closely together in memory.

So what exactly does this have to with marketing? Well a lot as a matter of fact. Using more subtle priming methods, you can help visitors to your website remember important details and key information about your brand, and potentially influence their purchasing behavior.


Reciprocating/ Reciprocity

The concept behind reciprocity is really fairly simple, in general terms, if someone goes and does something for you, you usually feel the urge to do something for them. An example of this in everyday life is at restaurants. When you receive a bill back with a mint, you’ve been reciprocated. A study was down recently by Robert Cialdini, author of 6 Principles of Influence, that showed when a server brought back a check that included a mint, the tip jumped up by 3.3%. With two mints, it jumped even more too nearly 20%.

In marketing, there are many ways you can use reciprocity to your benefit. You don’t have to have a lot of cash lying around to give something away. In fact it can be anything like a shirt with your logo/ brand to an eBook, or a free background for their desktop. Even something that may not seem significant to some, like a hand-written note can go pretty far when you are trying to establish reciprocity. It’s important to remember however, that you give away your ‘FREE’ item before you ask them for something in return.


Decoy Effect

You probably have fallen victim to this effect in many pricing models. One price is intentionally placed to help entice you to choose the more expensive option. Here’s an example:

  • Print Subscription: $100
  • Online Subscription: $75
  • Print and Online Subscription: $100

Wait a minute, something doesn’t look right. You’d be a fool, not to select the Print and Online Subscription option, because you are getting two for the price of one, right? Why would someone offer such a deal as this? The Decoy effect is successful amongst marketers. It appears you are getting a superb deal when in fact you are purchasing the subscription they wanted you to all along.



Let’s face it, we have a limited amount of space in our short term memories. Actually, people typically can only remember up to 7 pieces of information at any given time. To help cope with this, we tend to cluster pieces of similar information together. An example of this in everyday life is when you go to the grocery store. If you had an entire list to memorize, the vast majority of people would group items that are similar in certain categories, such as dairy, meat, grain, etc. to help them better remember their entire list.

So when you create content, keep the clustering effect in mind. How could you lay out your design and content to help increase your visitor’s memory retention? One way to do this is to group all similar items/ topics together. This can be accomplished with either numbered bullet points, or different size headings. Not only is this easier to scan through, but your content will be easier to remember and recall at a later date.

As a marketer, when you apply you knowledge about the different personalities and mindsets of your potential buyers into your content, you create marketing tools that will more effectively convince buyers to buy what you’re selling.

Tabitha Jean Naylor, Clearwater FL

Tabitha Jean Naylor, Clearwater FL is the Founder of Successful Startup 101, a digital magazine that provides answers to today's most pertinent questions facing startup founders, and the Owner of, a marketing firm that delivers 'big agency' quality at rates that are affordable for startups and small businesses.

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21 thoughts on “Psychology of Marketing

  1. Priming, reciprocating, decoy effect, clustering — all great psychological marketing. We see these all the time, but never recognized them as someone getting into our heads. Powerful article and strategies that any marketer can start using right away and not all via written word — we can use some of these in our videos and live broadcasting as well! Thank you TJ for another great article!

  2. It was such a great lesson using the serving the bill with a mint and even more so with two mints example and showing what a huge impact with something as small as a couple mints can have on the customer.
    Powerful lesson!
    Thank you for sharing this blog post.

  3. Great article Tabitha, thanks. I studied Cialdini’s book in depthr some years back as part of a course I did. I love his principles and they work. I had not heard the terms priming or the Decoy Effect used before but am familiar with them being used. Thank you!

  4. These are great tips and principles Tabitha. I believe the more we can understand the people we want to connect with the more rapport we will create. It’s a win win for everyone. Thank you for sharing such great value.

  5. Great insights in your article Tabitha! I really do think that it is super important to consider the psychology of marketing when creating content to successfully persuade prospects to buy. I actually used the decoy method for pricing my coaching services recently, it works! Thanks for your time and expertise!

  6. This is a great way to jump in the way our customers are feeling and thinking. This definitely helps many marketers really understand how to approach their customers. Thank you for sharing 😀

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