24 Mental Triggers That Sell

No fluff, let’s get going.

  1. Reciprocity: People tend to return a favour. Explains why gifts are exchanged, and why free samples work so well.
  2. Commitment and consistency: If you can get someone to commit to something publicly, then they are more likely to follow through.
  3. Social proof: When lost at a busy airport terminal, why do you tend to follow the crowd? We’re far more likely to take actions that we see other people taking.
  4. Authority: When we see figures in authority (real or faked), we tend to obey them.
  5. Liking: How much we like someone contributes greatly to how willingly we’ll listen
  6. Scarcity: If it’s rare, and hard to get a hold of, then it must be good!
  7. Anticipation: The wait is sometimes more powerful than the actual gift. Think Christmas.
  8. Common Enemy: United against a common cause.
  9. Surprise/Novelty: In 2004, Oprah gave away cars to everyone in her audience. They’re still talking about that.
  10. Credibility: How do people know that you really know what you’re talking about?
  11. Authenticity: Is what you say congruent with what you do? If not, we’ll notice.
  12. Purple Cow: A normal cow never gets noticed. But a purple one would. For a while. Be interesting, or be invisible.
  13. Controversy: We like to gossip, we like to gossip about scandals. It’s not for everyone, but engineering a controversy could create a lot of buzz.
  14. Testimonials/Proof: Give us testimonials from people we trust. Better yet, give us testimonials form people who are just like us. Give us a live demonstration. Prove to us that what you sell works.
  15. Celebrity: I mean, they gave Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson and Kim Kardashian their own TV shows. We like talking about interesting people (or at least people who act in… interesting ways).
  16. Community: Humans are social creatures. Given the right community, we’ll conform to the actions of the members (their actions, their beliefs, the stuff they buy).
  17. Emotions: People buy on emotions… 
  18. Reason Why: … but rationalise with logic. Give them both.
  19. Stories: Give your product and company a story. A story that engages an audience with a very specific worldview.
  20. Conversation: Give your audience an outlet for discussion. Marketing is no longer just a broadcast. Not even a two-way dialogue. It’s a conservation between all your fans, often at once, and they’ll talk with or without you. So join in.
  21. Ease of use: It’s counter-intuitive, but your product is often an obstacle. What they want when they buy is a solution to their problem. The harder your product is to use, the more difficult it is to get from A to B. Easy-to-use stuff sells.
  22. Avoid pain: We are an irrational species. Studies have proven that we are more likely to take action in order to avoid pain than to get some benefit.  
  23. Specificity: Information Bias describes a psychological tendency to favour options/decisions/products that we have the most information on. So don’t hold back, don’t be general. Be painfully specific, because people that are in pain can’t possibly hear enough on how they can solve it.
  24. Short-end of the stick: Eben Pagan is fond of the phrase “love getting the short-end of the stick”. Let your customers think they’re taking advantage of you. Let them think that the deal is so great, that you’re stupid to offer it. Watch this.