Persuasion Techniques – Cognitive Bias I-M

While we all like to think we are unique, rational beings who have no biases when mulling something over. It’s unfortunately, untrue. Most of us are prone to certain biases when making a decision. Some of us are more prone to certain biases than others, and some of us are more prone at different times. But none of us, use perfect rationality.

Here is a list of cognitive biases and how they can be used in marketing.

To view the A-C list, please click here. 

To view the D-H list, please click here.

Before we begin, a word about ethics. While the whole point of marketing is to be as persuasive as possible, the truth should not be neglected and services or products should never be oversold. It’s important to bear in mind advertising standards, and not to attempt to trick the customer.


Information Bias.

The tendency to believe the more information we have about a decision, the better the decision will be, even if the information is irrelevant.

We all like to think that we make well thought out, informed decisions. Often we spend hours and hours researching whether or not we should buy something when, if we’re honest, we’ve already decided. Or sometimes we research stuff after we’ve bought it, to prove to ourselves that although it’s hurt our bank balance, it was a very good idea. This could fit into ‘post-purchase rationalisation’ or choice supportive bias, which I’ve written more about here.

Many of my customers seem to be happy ‘going with their gut’ and hiring me on the basis of one meeting. Sometimes, we recognise that our gut feeling is usually right and if it’s not, well, risk is part of business. If we’re used to making big decisions and have self-awareness about how we truly make decisions, this may be the case.

But even though we usually buy things on feels and not reals, it’s still important that we make our customer feel like they are making an informed decision. If your customer has made his mind up, but would like to spend time researching your service or products, then let them. Failing to do so could mean that they get the heebie-jeebies and back out.


How information bias can be used.

Really, the more info you can give your customer, the better. Even if the information is irrelevant to the decision, the customer still likes to have it as part of their decision-making process.

This doesn’t mean that you need to get carried away and write pages and pages of text on your website. Consider usability, perhaps you can have areas that click through to deeper information for those research hungry users.

Yes creating frequent long-form content on your website is good for your SEO, but it’s also good for those customers who want to learn more about your business before and after a purchase.


Mere Exposure Effect.

The tendency to express undue liking for things merely because of familiarity with them.

Mere exposure effect is maybe my favourite effect. If you can do nothing else as a marketer, you can create exposure. All you need to create exposure is an advertising budget, or even just a social media account.

We naturally like things that are familiar to us. We prefer to buy “brand names”. We have kept the same ornament that ended up in our house somehow after our grandma died and can’t get rid of it because it’s now become very sentimentally valuable to us. We trust people that little bit more if we’ve heard a friend mention their name. We feel inexplicably sad about discarding an old pair of jeans.

There is no rational reason why we like stuff just because we’ve been exposed to it many times, but it probably goes back to our animal brains. As early humans, we might have faired better if we stuck to what we know, instead of eating the fruit that we’ve never seen before or waving “hi” to the stranger in the distance with a spear.

How mere exposure effect can be used.

Get yourself out there! TV ads, social media posts, newspaper ads, those weird road signs that are sponsored by local companies, it all helps to build your exposure. Often advertising is 10% about getting your call to action fulfilled and 90& about increasing brand exposure. It might be the case that someone does not trust you after your first round of advertising, it may take years to build up familiarity. Big businesses use T.V ads to launch new brands and products and they do them repeatedly until sales are up.

Often people say to me that they ‘tried marketing in the past and it didn’t work’ so now they just don’t bother. But they never gave that mere exposure effect a chance to take hold.

One of my clients have recently completed a second year of working with me, in the first year their social media web traffic was up to a level that they were happy with, this year it’s up an additional 278% even though their following has only increased by 15%. The content hasn’t changed, it’s just a case of more people knowing and trusting the brand.

I’ve been there myself in that first year of business when nobody has heard of you, nobody trusts your brand or advocates for you and your marketing seems to be getting you no new business at all. I actually think this is partly why so many business owners quit in that first year. Don’t give up! Keep plugging away at it, it builds up and snowballs. You cant expect mere exposure effect to take off instantly.

If you enjoyed this article I will be working on cognitive biases – N-Z soon! So please make sure to follow me to keep up to date with my articles.

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