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Are your sales promotions psychologically appealing to customers?

Are your sales promotions psychologically appealing to customers?

Buying and selling is one of the oldest social experiences known to humans. We may have moved on from haggling in street markets, but the same rules of interaction apply. Today, the Firefly blog takes you through the tricky business of using ethical psychological tactics to win over your customers and keep them coming back.

Be a friend, not a salesperson
When we talk about using knowledge of human psychology to increase sales, we’re not discussing tricks or ways to “pull one over” on the customer. Customers are smart enough to know when someone is trying to trick them. What we’re talking about in this article are ways to make customers feel more comfortable with you, your brand and your business. In other words, how can you use a basic knowledge of human psychology to keep shoppers happy and engaged with your brand?

The first rule of psychology should be this: People are complicated. There’s no one trigger word or method you can use to sell to everyone. Individuals might be prompted by one sales pitch on Monday, and completely ambivalent to it by Tuesday. Professional copywriter Dean Rieck wrote that people are at once suspicious and eager to buy. Basically, a shopper wants to make a purchase, but she’ll be wary of any claims telling her she’s getting the best deal ever. To combat this, you need to create some rapport with your customers. Talk to them in person when they visit your establishment and keep the conversation going through your various social media pages. If you project a friendly, helpful attitude, people will be more likely to buy from you.

Sherrie Campbell, a psychologist and author, said that a salesperson must put people before numbers and should think of the customer as a partner. This advice ties back into the idea of creating a welcoming environment. When a customer is in your store, offer to help them out by sharing information about your products – you’re trying to help them, not sell to them. And keep in mind that with some people, the best option is to give them some space and let them explore the store on their own. Just make yourself visible and available in case they have any questions.


Don’t send mixed messages. Color coordination is a must for every display you create.

Colors make a difference
Just as you can use your body language and facial expressions to encourage friendliness and comfort, you can also use colors and shapes to evoke good feelings. Imagine being in a blue room with dark blue trimmings and a black carpeted floor. How would that make you feel? Sad, probably. Blue is the color of grief according to Forbes magazine. But like people, colors are complicated. While a dark blue might make you feel somber, a power blue can evoke a sense of awe, like the feeling you get when staring up at clear summer sky.

Let’s say you’re preparing to have a big sales event or clearance special. What colors can you use to get people in the mood for shopping? Pantone reported that warm colors like orange, yellow and red are ‘high-arousal’ colors. When you’re having a big sale, your top priority is to get customers to act. You can send out mailers with bright, warm colors that encourage people to take action. In your storefront, you can display promotional posters to call out to passersby.

When using shapes as part of a sales promotion, focus on ones that convey a sense of movement and action. For example, you might have a series of triangles pointing toward the clearance section of your store, urging shoppers to check out the deals over there. Circles, pinwheels and sharp angles are all visually stimulating and can contribute to an overall feeling of movement, progress and action.

Black Friday secrets
We can’t talk about sales promotions without mentioning the biggest sale of them all: Black Friday. In recent years it almost seems like this shopping holiday is a bigger event than Thanksgiving. And with online retailers introducing other events like Cyber Monday, a lot of money changes hands during the last weekend in November. Last year, Americans spent over $50 billion on Black Friday, Bloomberg reported.

Why do people spend so much money on this one day of the year? The answer is, of course, for psychological reasons. New York magazine said that several staple features of Black Friday sales contribute to the massive amounts of spending that occur on this unofficial holiday. Early-bird specials, rebates, artificial scarcity and confirmation bias all play their roles in convincing shoppers that they’re missing out if they don’t attend the sales.

But there’s more to Black Friday than tricks and tactics. Over everything else about the day, there is an overwhelming sense of companionship and adventure. Smithsonian magazine said that groups of friends will often get together the night before Black Friday and map out their plan of attack. Getting the best deals or managing to snag that great gift for a loved one makes shoppers feel like they’ve won something. Oftentimes a sense of camaraderie builds among the shoppers. As you start to plan for your own Black Friday promotions, think about how you can contribute to this good natured feeling, and leave the tricks to your competitors.

“Talk directly to your customers and get them pumped up for your next big promotion.”

Maintain cohesion in online campaigns
Earlier this month, we talked about using social media to promote your brand. Now let’s specifically talk about how you can create a cohesive experience throughout your online campaigns and in-store experience. Everything discussed above can be translated to the online world. Color schemes should be bright, warm and inviting. If possible, the motifs used in your online advertisements should be consistent with the signage and displays in your store.

Using Facebook and Twitter, you can talk directly to your customers and get them pumped up for your next big promotion. Give them tips on when deals will go live, or the best times to arrive at the store. Help them out as much as possible, and maintain that level of cooperation and helpfulness on the sales floor.