These principles of psychology should be in your marketing strategy

A successful marketing strategy boils down to its ability to connect to the minds of humans. We’ve outlined some of the key principles of psychology that every marketer should acknowledge.
13 March 2018

T he most successful and skillful marketers of today have a fantastic flair at understanding why humans – or more specifically consumers – think and behave the way they do. They use this valuable knowledge to influence consumer decisions, from sending subliminal messages about how buying a gym membership will transform your outlook on life, to how a new pair of heels will make your self-confidence sky-rocket.

Understanding some of the key principles of psychology can really transform your marketing strategy. After all, what’s the use in putting tremendous time and effort into a marketing campaign if you don’t know why or how it will engage your audience?

Fear not, you don’t have to have a Ph.D. in psychology to create an effective marketing campaign. This article will outline a few of the basic psychological principles that will help you attract, engage, and most importantly, convert consumers.


This concept is pretty simple; if someone does something for you, you will naturally want to repay the favor. This is a common strategy for many businesses.

For example, that after-dinner mint you received with your bill was probably not just a kindhearted gesture. The odds are it was placed there with the intention of encouraging you to tip.

This was the findings of one study, where it was found that tips given by diners went up by three percent if they were given a mint. With a second mint, tips skyrocketed by up to 20 percent.

The lesson for marketers

Your brand can utilize the advantages of reciprocity in many ways, and this does not have to be budget-breaking. From a company pen to an exclusive ebook; offering something of value to your consumers can reap beneficial returns.

Social influence and conformity

One of the most famous studies in the field of psychology found that as humans, we often change how we behave to be more like others.

Would you give a wrong answer despite knowing it was wrong, just because the majority of people were giving it?

This is something Polish psychologist Solomon Asch explored in his 1950s study. A group of actors were hired to participate with students in answering quiz questions but were told to give the wrong answer. It was found that the majority of students followed suit despite knowing the “obvious” correct answer.

The lesson for marketers

Your business would do well to leverage the power of key influencers and industry leaders in promoting your products and brand.

More recently, we have seen an increase in the use of “micro-influencers”, defined as those individuals with a following of fewer than 10,000 people. These accounts usually work in a particular niche – for instance, travel, fashion, food or fitness and for brands – and represent a voice that the man on the street finds more relatable and authentic over celebrity-status influencers.

Following from this is the concept of “social proof”. Use your social media accounts, as well as your website, to highlight mentions by your followers and customers. If people see that others are interacting with your brand, they will be more likely to engage.

The role of emotion

The influence of emotion in consumer behavior is well documented within the field of psychology. As reported by Psychology Today, MRI neuro-imagery shows that when considering a brand, consumers primarily use emotion such as personal feelings and past experiences over information such as brand attributes, features, and facts.

The lesson for marketers

 Demonstrating how your brand will improve a consumer’s life will be more effective than simply listing your brand’s features and functions.

The role of emotion in marketing is the primary reason why many consumers choose brand name products over generic and store brands, despite the latter often containing the exact ingredients and at often much cheaper prices.

Visual marketing

They say “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and the idea of this is that the image is connected to the emotional side of the brain.

Powerful visuals go a long way. More specifically, research has shown that we are drawn to human faces in imagery due to familiarity, so consider this when planning your marketing strategy.

The lesson for marketers

In order to skillfully market your brand, it is important to be aware of the psychological principles underlying human behavior. Human behavior is guided by needs and actions that marketers should take into account when trying to appeal to consumers.