17th September 2015 | Ben

Branding, Marketing strategy

Smart marketing – a psychological perspective

As an undergraduate psychology student at Durham University, I contacted Recenseo with the aim of experiencing a small taster of the marketing world. During my studies my main interest concerned how the theories I was being taught could apply to a ‘real world’ setting. To me, marketing seemed like a natural application and immediately captured my interest.

I thus embarked on just under 2 months of work experience with Recenseo over August and September. I have since been able to develop my knowledge and witness how psychological theories can be harnessed through marketing, to effectively communicate a message to a specific audience.

Motivating actions

In one of the, admittedly most mouth-watering, jobs I was tasked with – to review and compare different social media platforms of chocolate companies, I looked at the ‘calls to action’. Objectives may be to encourage clients to visit a store or to share a photo on Instagram. To achieve these, the target audience must be motivated. Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic, conscious or unconscious or activate avoidance or approach mechanisms.

Considering which forms of motivation are most effective can help to focus these ‘calls’. For example, if the objective of a blog post for an accounting firm is for more people to enquire about their services, people can be more successfully motivated by activating their avoidance mechanisms. This may include highlighting the legal dangers of not having organised professionally-checked accounts.

Thanks Georgia!

Thanks Georgia!

Controlling emotions

Activating avoidance mechanisms causes a flood of stress inducing neurochemicals in the body. The amygdala will translate these and rapidly process it into an emotional reaction. Emotions have evolved to support adaptive, advantageous behaviours. These can be tapped in to through marketing messages to encourage desired reactions.

Building associations

Emotions have an important role in learning. Classical conditioning thinks of learning as the result of associations. A neutral stimulus activates no response, for example an e-shot. However, a company may want receivers to feel positive. They should therefore associate the e-shot with something which has a pre-existing positive ‘relationship’ with the audience. The audience may feel positive when viewing animal pictures. Including these in the e-shot will thus lead to the audience feeling positive when receiving it. Repeating the association should mean that eventually the e-shots alone evoke positivity.

Memorising the message

All these processes rely on memory. When sending a message, be it through a blog post, e-shot, social media photo or press release, you probably want your audience to remember what the message says and who sent it!

One memory model suggests that for information to move into our short term memory (STM), it must catch our attention. It is therefore not too difficult for a message to sit in someone’s STM. However, the duration of these memories are short and the capacity is small. To move information to the long term store, repetition is needed. A marketing message should therefore be consistent and reinforced. This underlies why marketing is most successful when applied as an ongoing strategy.

These theories cover just a fraction of psychology’s potential applications with marketing. Further research has shown the best way of grabbing someone’s attention, how long you have to do this and how to then keep them interested. Alternatively, social psychological studies show how people crave to be accepted and feel ‘part of a group’ or how they react when given a message from a perceived authority figure. This knowledge, and much more, can all be employed to make your marketing message the most effective it can be.

I would like to thank all the team at Recenseo once again for giving me such a fantastic opportunity and for all you’ve done. I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better company to work with or way to spend my summer.

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