The Science of Persuasion

When you’re running a business, you need to be as expert at selling what you have to offer as you are at making it. It can be a challenge: many business owners are experts in their own product, whatever it is, from a physical item to a digital or financial one (like a statistics programme or a wage tracking tool), to a service (like business consulting). It’s this passion for the product and making it ever better that drives them to set up their own business rather than work for someone else.

That doesn’t automatically translate into knowing how to sell it best. If you’re going to make a success of your new business you need to put some thought into the science of persuasion and make sure your marketing, as well as your products, is top notch.

The Who

The first thing you need to do is identify who your market consists of. If you’re already doing a reasonable trade, who are those customers, and what groups do they fall into?

If you’re just starting out, you need to target groups to become your customers, but it’s not helpful to simply pick groups at random. You need to target groups of people who are interested in what you have to offer and have the money to spend on it. Targeting lots of advertising for your home improvement products at people who can’t afford it and, demographically speaking, don’t own homes is simply wasting your money.

This way of understanding your audience, breaking it down into different groups with different interests, is known as market segmentation, and it’s more helpful than having a single, overarching understanding of your customers that excludes some sizeable groups.

The How

Once you’ve identified the groups that make up your market, you need advertising to appeal to them. You can’t please all of the people all of them, but you can create different ads tailored to the values of your two or three most sizeable groups of potential customers.

For people that look for function, you can emphasise the value for money on offer with your products, for those who value innovation, highlight the features they can get with you and no one else – the psychological value of small differences cannot be over-estimated! For the health conscious, draw attention to the health benefits of what you have to offer.

The Where

The last ingredient to making your marketing truly persuasive is to place it where the right people are going to see it. Be guided by your demographics here and match your ads to the places their audience will find them!

A Guardian reader is likely to have very different values to a Mail reader, both of whom differ to people who get their news from social media.

Having a complete plan that ensures your customers are identified and targeted carefully at every stage is the way to make sure you’re taking advantage of the science of persuasion.

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