2 Powerful customer needs and how marketers ‘help’ them

Soon Min Blog, On strategy Leave a Comment

Photo credit: (M.E) Morgan via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

For much of our waking lives, we’re being engaged by some company or another in their quest to get our attention and/or money. The fascinating bit is that even though some of us might be aware of it (especially those with a marketing or advertising history), we’re still suckers for some of the tricks they play.

Some simply nudge us in the right direction of a decision (okay, it’s ‘their’ direction), while others have hooks that sink deeper by really getting under our skin. As entrepreneurs, there’s much we can learn from these tricks, and as customers ourselves, perhaps a slightly improved resistance. Here are some of the interesting ones I’ve seen.

The need to feel like they made a smart choice

Everyone likes a deal. It might not be literally be the ‘cheapest’, but as long as they feel that they’ve got the best value and made a good decision.

Tactic 1: Comparisons between competitors or before/after

Most marketers tend to stop at providing a list of product features. Those a little better are able to distill the benefits from those features, and highlight them in an appealing way. The power marketer understands that if it’s not some competitor they need to take into account, it’s inertia they have to battle.

This tactic is brought to life by using charts, infographics or side-by-side lists depending on the medium. An experiment was conducted with the Economist’s subscription service by Dan Ariely (a behavioural economist). Here’s what the form looked like:


If you look at 2 and 3, it seems silly to even bother having the Print Only option, but what the research found was that because of it, more people chose the expensive subscription. This is in comparison to the other version tested that only had Online + Print/Online, where the majority chose Online only (the cheapest option). When done in the right way, comparisons help customers make what they think of as a smart decision. 

Tactic 2: Copywriting that overtly suggests it
This tactic is deceptively simple. Customers are faced with a sea of information and distraction, which makes it harder to process and make decisions. So, if for example, you’re selling a bag with fairly large dimensions and assume that people would come to that conclusion just by reading the size description, you might not be getting as many customers as you could.

The tactic simply calls for you to make it obvious when you present your offer. An experiment by Carnegie Mellon University modified a sales page from “A $5 Fee” to “A Small $5 Fee” saw a 20% increase in conversions.

The need to feel in control and secure

We can be a skeptical bunch when it comes to purchases, especially if they’re large ones. To counteract this, marketers can help us believe we’re making a safe decision.

Tactic 1: Price reframing or staggered payments

When it comes to purchases that have higher costs, the price tag alone can scare people off. For example, an insurance policy that would cost you an annual fee of $1200. As an up front cost, that kind of money sounds too much, and would likely have an ‘unknown’ (but bad) impact upon my spending capability.

By simply reframing the cost as ‘From only $100 a month’, ‘Less than $3.50 a day’ or maybe even ‘Less than a Starbucks latte a day’, the fee doesn’t become so scary or unknown.

Tactic 2: Addressing objections up-front

Very few purchases are made without some level of resistance. This uncertainty usually revolves around the features and benefits of what you’re offering. If you’ve engaged with enough customers, you’d likely have a sense of the type of Q&A that they bring up frequently. Alongside this, you’d also be exposed to common excuses as to why some of them resisted making the decision.

This tactic is used where there’s a possibility to engage the customer for a longer period, whether during a live sales pitch, brochure, or landing page. Internet marketers do this well, by bringing up and addressing the common objections up front (often times before the customer even ‘thinks it’). The end effect is that customers feel that his concerns are noted, the brand is being open and honest, and thus more confident in making a purchase.

Neil Patel, internet marketing guru and founder of CrazyEgg wrote a great piece about this here.

What are some of the tactics that you tend to use when it comes to nudging the customer in your favour?

Soon Min2 Powerful customer needs and how marketers ‘help’ them