Marketing content and the communications we’re surrounded with daily have a significant impact on our thoughts and ultimately our behaviors, but we don’t even realize it for the most part.
For example, in the 1970s, the U.S. government started making seatbelt laws to reduce deaths and injuries associated with motor vehicle accidents. Along with changing regulations, there were a number of advertising and marketing campaigns that came as part of the push to increase seatbelt use.
There were countless buckle-up campaigns launched across the country on television, radio and in other forms of media. The result was ultimate that we went from a country unlikely to use a seatbelt to one where it became a habit on autopilot.
Marketing and behavior change isn’t just for public health and safety campaigns. Your marketing can change behavior, and that should be your primary goal. This is the goal regardless of your industry or what you’re selling.
The following are things to know about marketing and the influences it can have on behavior when done well.
Understanding Consumer Behavior
Consumer behavior highlights what leads individuals as well as organizations to buy certain products and to have loyalty to particular brands.
There are three components of consumer behavior, broadly.
There are psychological factors. These psychological factors are how someone responds to ads or marketing campaigns and are driven very much by individual elements like their attitudes, perceptions, and view of life.
Personal factors are those things you might use as you create audience personas. They’re demographic-based, such as age or gender.
Then there are social factors. Income and education level are two examples of social factors influencing buying behavior.
Principles of Influence
There are six principles of influence that are core to human behavior, according to researchers. These are:
- Reciprocity: A human tends to want to respond in-kind to something they see as generous. For example, if you give a free sample, it may encourage them to buy from you to return the favor.
- Commitment: After someone’s engaged with something, they’re more likely to stay with it. If you can cultivate brand loyalty through your messaging and marketing, then that’s something that’s probably going to stick.
- Consensus: The more we feel like others are doing something, the more we also want to do it. If you can show in your marketing how popular your product or service is or how happy people are with it, you can influence behavior.
- Authority: Someone viewed as an expert speaking on your product or service is likely to be a valuable conversion factor. We tend to defer to authority and people we view as experts.
- Likeness: If you have people within your target personas that can share their experiences with people with similar backgrounds to their own, it’s going to be more influential than if they don’t see your current customers as being like them.
- Scarcity: If we think something is limited or can’t have it, we want it more. With that comes a sense of urgency.
Crafting a Message
While the specifics can vary quite a bit depending on who you’re targeting and what you’re selling, overall marketing campaigns should have a message that will show the value of whatever the behavior is that you’re trying to encourage. For example, you want to show how your product solves a problem in the life of your targeted user.
You want to show how the benefits outweigh the costs.
Your messaging should preemptively consider barriers to buying so that you can then combat those and turn things around, motivating your audience to take action.
Messaging should provide easy access so that your audience can perform the action you want them to, and you want to ensure your message stays relevant.
Finally, you have to remember that behavioral change isn’t a one-time event. It’s a process, and your customers will move through a journey, which is why things like marketing funnels tend to be so effective. You want to think first about your target audience where they are currently and then customize your messages to their potential journey.
You also have to keep in mind that with behavior change, success isn’t always determined through immediate response. Instead, success is measured as you move your audience through stages until they reach the final desired behavior.
Once you learn how to craft messages with these concepts in mind, you can use the general approach time and time again, even if the details or specifics change.