Tricks Big Brands use To Sell You Anything

One of the best ways to get people to read your content, is to start a title with ‘3 tricks’ or ‘How to’. That may be how we got you to read this. But, don’t feel cheated!

We are all looking for ways to be better at our jobs, relationships and finance, and any advice out there is helpful. However, we have to admit: the title is a bit misleading. We are not interested in teaching you tricks to sell people “anything” – there are enough salesman out there exploiting us as it is. We’d rather empower you to know how your mind works. How you use this knowledge, is up to you.

1. Less is More

Here’s an experiment: You’re in front of the grocery shelf. There is a special offer on a new brand of chocolate: the options are:

  • Midnight Delight
  • Breaking Dawn
  • Sweet Surrender
  • Smooth Sensation
  • The Secret
  • Heavenly Kisses

You can choose any two for a discounted price. The packaging doesn’t give any detail as to what the flavours are; every picture just illustrates the brand-name. How do you choose the two you want to try? What are your next moves? Do you read the ingredients? Do you look at the packaging? Do you take the chocolates closest to you?

Whatever your next move is, the chances are that your brain slows down slightly, as you make some mental effort for your next move. This is known as choice overload. If there are too many options, it can lead to confusion, random choice, or even failure to make any choice.

The Implications:

When you are the one selling products, make it easier for your client: give them 2 to 3 options, and clarify the difference. When you are the client, make it easier for yourself: It’s just a chocolate: spending mental energy on the best choice is a waste. Be daring, and make a random choice, or be healthy and move right along to the vegetable-isle.

2. Follow The Herd

Imagine the same situation as above. Only this time, 2 of the chocolates have a sticker on them : “Popular Choice”. When we get stuck with a complicated choice, these kind of ‘guidelines’ help us to make a decision. We trust that the popular choice should be better, because we don’t have enough information to go on otherwise.

The Implications:

When you are the seller: Help your client with clear labels. For instance, in stead of labelling your product / service packages as ‘Platinum’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Silver’, rather label them as ‘Corporate’, ’Small Business’ and ‘Private’, or any label that will clarify exactly who the package / product is for.

3. Default-setting

There is a case in the UK where DMV forms already had the box ‘organ donation’ ticked. This increased….etc etc.

This is another device that ties back to the first principle: the less someone has to do mentally about difficult / complex / unclear decisions, the better. Many clients are so overwhelmed by information, and the difficulty in making the ‘best’ decision in this day and age, that they are just relieved when the decision is made for them. Even if it is a bad one!

The Implications:

If you are the retailer, make sure the boxes are ticked, and all the necessary services included as a default. Make it clear to your client that they can opt-out of these, to be fair, but don’t make it hard work for them to get your services / products. On the flip-side, always check those boxes that have been ticked on a web-subscription, an entry-form or a new membership. You’ll notice that the retailer often makes sure they get the most benefit out of the transaction, and they may opt you into recurring billing, newsletters and add-ons you don’t want or need.

So, whether you are the buyer or the seller, the serviced or the serving: You’re not immune to these predictably irrational ways of the mind. It may take a bit of mental effort to use it to your advantage, but it’s sure to pay-off.

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