Learning to Change People’s Minds Is Easier Than You Think (or How Your Brand Can Use Polite Trickery to Get More Customers)
If you want to crack the secrets to how to change people’s minds when it comes to their buying habits, there are two distinct stereotypes about consumers that you need to get out of youe head. These are two stereotypes that most people believe are basically consumer gospel but are really pretty fear from the truth.
- People are only interested in buying the best products.
- People want to have a wide range of options; they want the most options possible in order to make a decision.
So how does the falsity of both of these claims alter the way you do business? How should the fact that these two statements aren’t as true as most people believe they are alter the way you behave when it comes to buying, selling, and trying to influence others?
The Danger of Too Many Choices
Not too long ago, a research study conducted by Stanford University set up two booths in a grocery store. Both booths displayed various jams for customers to taste. Booth A held 24 different jams while Both B held only six. Through the course of a given period of time, customers visited both booths and tasted the jams.
The results were staggering to say the least. More than 60% of the people who stopped at Booth A tasted at least one jam. Only 40% stopped by Booth B to sample the goods. So are it makes sense, right…the table with the most jams resulted in more visitors and more tastes. But what is truly amazing is that 30% of the people that stopped by Booth B made a purchase of one of the jams. Meanwhile a mere 3% from Booth A made a purchase.
This is cognitive dissonance in action. The bigger the selection and the larger amount of choices there are, the less prone humans are to react. This is simply because they are being bombarded with too much. It’s much easier to make a selection from six jars of jam than it is to decide between 24 of them.
You see, we humans actually prefer to be subtly directed to make a decision. The freedom of choice can often prove too stressful, especially when there are so many options to choose from. This is almost contradictory because humans also feel the need to be in control. It could be said that with fewer choices, they perceive themselves as having more control over the choice to be made.
Follow the Leader
Any parent will tell you that the most popular you among their children is whichever toy their child’s best friend has. This is the perfect example of one of the most basic of human traits: we want what other people have.
There are many reasons for this, especially as we get older. From social status to a friend’s rave reviews, we consciously and subconsciously want what others have. In the example of children wanting other children’s toys, it comes down t the other child’s joy over the object. The other child wants that same joy and believes that the toy will certainly bring it.
At such a young age, the words “me” and “mine” hold sway in most playtime arenas. “My toy is cool,” says one child. So, of course, the other child will want the toy.
As that child grows older and develops their own tastes, the reasons for wanting certain things changes. In fact, at some point in those magical years between 10-13 or so, children begin not wanting the same things their friends have (iPads and most other electronics are the exception here).
Why is this? Is it a developing since of individuality? Whatever it is, it’s something that you need to try to understand in order to directly influence people. You see, if you can get people to change their attitudes and feeling about something, you can also get them to change their behaviors.
Getting in Our Heads (and Genes)
The huge corporations have been researching ways to actually make consumers change their behaviors. They believe that there are ways to actually influence consumers enough to actually manipulate the impulses, instincts and genetic make-up of our minds. It’s no secret that certain colors or music can have emotional reactions in all of us. These tactics, as well as others, have been implemented into marketing for countless years—but just how effective can it be?
And can you use the same sort of strategies to influence others?
1- Do Away With “Self”: Believe it or not, our basic human nature is to think of the groups that we are a part of before we think about ourselves. Sure, there are some in society that make this hard to believe, but it is the truth. It’s why you’ll sometimes see news stories about someone running into a burning building to save a family member or some other heroic act. For the most part, humans are wired to care for others before caring for themselves.
It’s important to keep this in mind when trying to influence others. While you certainly want your audience to know how your message, product, or service can benefit them as individuals, you don’t want to make your pitch sound as if it is geared specifically towards one individual. You stand a much stronger chance of getting your point across if you can turn the attention to how it will benefit a group of some sort: a demographic, the family system, and so on.
So don’t just focus on how you will be able to help that one person or group you are talking to. Let them know how their families, friends, and associated groups will also benefit.
2- Work the Competitive Angle: Humans really are a fickle bunch. While we tend to care for others in times of jeopardy, we also don’t like to feel like we are ever at a disadvantage. Because of this, whenever you can convince them that having your product or service at their disposal is to their advantage, you’re a step ahead of the game.
You want your audience to firmly believe that by having your products and services, they will have an advantage in life. This could be in regards to work, family, personal life, anything—as long as it makes them feel like they are one up on everyone else.
This plays into the instilled levels of competition that exists in all of us (whether we want to admit it or not). At a base level, competition among people and/or groups is basically what determined the classes of “winners” or “losers” in society.
3- Stay Friendly: Through all of this, let your customer get the feeling that you care about them as more than just a customer. This is something you need to approach with great care because there is affine line between sucking up and showing genuine interest. As a rule, most people can tell when you are genuinely interested in them and their interest.
If you can achieve this, you have another advantage. People like to know they have been accepted, especially by someone that have just met. When it comes to working with new people, this can be a huge factor in a consumer’s decision-making process. While there is really no way to display genuine interest (aside from actually saying “I Care for you as more than a customer” which you should never do under any circumstances), you can get the point across pretty easily.
Just make sure you take the time ask questions instead of spouting off more and more information about yourself. Asking questions and taking an interest in your potential customers or audience shows them that you are interested in them. Ask them about their kids, about their hobbies and interest. Anything that can show your personal side as well as your professional side will help tremendously.