Psychology always plays a big part in good advertising. Ideally, the recipient is not aware of the extent to which the authors of the advertisement are trying to influence him or her, but even if the customer has full knowledge of the psychology of advertising, he or she will still not become completely immune to it. It is then worth considering which of the four strategies will have the best effect.

Marketing strategies: from brutality to finesse

The psychology of marketing is a complex science, but in practice it is often more like using a battering ram than a key. All because different marketing strategies allow you to reach different customers through different channels. We will leave the question of choosing the ideal strategy for later, and begin with a brief introduction to four competing strategies.

  1. Mechanistic strategy. It is based on the relatively simple findings of psychoanalysis. In practice, it boils down to repeating a message over and over again. Of course, the quality of the message will matter, but the aim of this strategy is simply to develop a lasting association, which will make it possible to make a choice in a mechanical, preferably completely unreflective manner. A customer exposed to a repeated message will associate the brand or a specific product (visually, from the name, in connection with the situation - it does not matter now), and if a specific stimulus is triggered, he or she will simply reach for the product that first comes to mind.
  2. Persuasive strategy. Here we can already clearly see a certain shift towards finesse. It is difficult to determine from which branch of psychology it draws the most, because it has something of mechanism, but also intuition. The aim of the persuasion strategy is not to encourage the customer to buy as suchIt is only to create a belief in the superiority of a particular product or brand over a competing product or brand. Laundry detergent washes better, yoghurt is more natural (whatever that means - the arguments in this strategy can be irrational), and tyres are more economical. It is enough for the customer to remember that product A is better than product B. Then he will not make the decision to buy in a fully automatic way or by the mere action of an incentive, but will have the impression that his decision is fully autonomous.
  3. Projection strategy. From the psychological side it is even more sublime. It requires the ability to predict not only behaviour, but also feelings and impressions. In campaigns using this strategy, it is completely unimportant how a given product performs in comparison with competitive products. All that matters is that it fits in some way with the potential customer's worldview and lifestyle. This, of course, gives a lot of opportunities, because, for example, a bicycle can suit many customers for various reasons: because it is cheaper than a car, because it does not pollute the environment, because it allows you to get to inaccessible places, because it comes from a Polish factory. In this strategy, the winner will be the product that the customer can smoothly incorporate into his vision of the world.
  4. Suggestive strategy. It can be seen as a development of the projective strategy. The difference is that in the case of the suggestive strategy, more information is given to the client - it is suggested to him what specific needs he will be able to satisfy. While in projection the author of the advertisement simply assumes a certain conformity with the needs of the customer, here he does not make this assumption, or rather protects himself in case of an incorrect prediction. He does not give the product feature itself, but in a skilful way connects it with a specific need. Just in case the customer is not aware of his needs (or in case such a need does not really exist, it is just a marketing creation, so it needs to be mentioned).

How to choose a psychological marketing strategy?

We have ranked them above from the simplest (most brutal) to the most complex (finesse). The general rule is that the less durable the product is, the more common it is and the cheaper it is, the more brutal the strategy can be. On the other hand, the more expensive the product and the easier (in a purely objective sense) it is to do without, the more subtle persuasion is needed.

The purchase of bread, milk or cheese is most often persuaded mechanistically. These products are tacitly accepted by most people as indispensable (it does not have to be a justified feeling, it is enough for it to be common). The aforementioned bicycles already have some alternatives (better or worse, but they have them and customers are aware of them), while the most expensive model of luxury car objectively does not provide anything in addition to what the average model provides - so you have to use a trump card, not a battering ram.

In practice, of course, "pure" strategies are rare. Most campaigns combine several of them, creating a unique marriage designed to achieve maximum effectiveness on the target group. And here we come to the most important point: Which strategy proves to be the most effective depends on the match between predictions about the characteristics of the target audience and the actual target audience. If these assumptions turn out to be wrong, then a perfect, beautiful and sophisticated campaign will reach people who are not reached by this level of argumentation. Sales do not increase and the whole marketing campaign will become just an interesting case to discuss. Too bad, right? So one never chooses the prettiest or most elegant strategy. You choose the one which, in the context of your product and target group, gives you the best chance of complete success.


The author of the article is Robert Wąsik, a copywriter who proves that advertising can tell the truth and still work.

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