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Three More Practical Psychological Business Lessons

Practical Psychological Business Lessons


Every aspect of business can in some way be traced back to psychology and psychological concepts. Topics ranging from the psychology of job interviews, the psychological effects of job satisfaction, and how psychology can be used in marketing are all examples of how business and psychology are intertwined.
Practical Psychological Business Lessons
Psychology in business, in addition to the aforementioned topics, can also be practical. Practical psychological business concepts are those which businesses can use to increase sales, increase relationships with customers, suppliers and different areas of a company, in addition to multiple other tricks, tips and techniques. In the previous article, three concepts were discussed: the foot in the door concept, or the concept of the tendency for people to agree to something bigger once they have agreed to something smaller; the door in the face concept, or the concept of the tendency of people to agree to something once they have been presented with a more outrageous, less reasonable option first; and the perceived expertise concept, or the concept that people are more likely to listen and agree with someone who they perceive as being an expert. The following are three more common practical psychological lessons that businesses can use.

Lesson: Use the "Serial Position" concept.

The Serial Position concept, sometimes referred to as the Serial Position Effect, is a concept which was first developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus. The serial position effect refers to how people remember items that they first see or hear in list format. According to the research of Ebbinghaus, people remember items which are at the beginning of a list and the end of a list the best. For example: If someone gives you a verbal grocery list consisting of: "Apples, cereal, bananas, crackers, pickles, dish soap and spaghetti sauce," you are more likely to remember apples and spaghetti sauce because of their position on the list.

In the field of business, this concept is considered to be a powerful one which is best used in marketing and advertising. The serial position concept can be used to influence what people remember about your product or your service; and in turn, this can influence how they will feel about your product or your services. For businesses, this means that they should list the “best” or more notable benefits or other characteristics first and last in a list, in order to ensure that customers are associating their product with the ‘best’ characteristics. For example: A business that is selling a new vitamin supplement might have a commercial which lists the benefits of taking the supplement; if they list the benefit “age-defying” first and the benefit “weight loss” last, people who are shopping in the store and see the vitamin supplement on the shelves are likely to remember these two popular benefits and associate the product with them.

Lesson: Use multiple routes of persuasion

People process information differently; this is a concept which has been studied in everyone from schoolchildren to adults. For business and marketing purposes, however, the way that people process information can be defined into two different audiences: an audience which is attentively thinking about the product or message being advertised, and an audience which is distracted and not attentively thinking about the product or message being advertised. These two audiences will alter the route of persuasion that a business decides to use when attempting to convince people to purchase their product or services. The attentive group is targeted with what is referred to as the "Central Route," while the distracted group is targeted with what is referred to as the "Peripheral Route." The Central Route means that they are actively listening to what is being said to them, either through a commercial or a direct marketing pitch; in other words, they are actively paying attention to persuasion. However, this doesn't ensure that people who are following the Central Route will be convinced to purchase a product or service--it only means that they are paying full attention to the marketing itself. The key to securing the purchase of people on the Central Route is to provide strong, and convincing marketing pitches.

An audience who is on the Peripheral Route, however, is not actively engaged or fully listening to the marketing which is being presented to them. They may focus on small details or irrelevant parts of the marketing rather than on what exactly is being said to them. For example, they might focus on the good looks (or otherwise) of the person in the commercial rather than what is actually being said. The people on this route are more likely to be influenced by these seemingly irrelevant details—such as the looks of the person performing the pitch, how confidence they sound regardless of what they are actually saying, and so on. In order to secure the purchase of people on the Peripheral Route, a business must know how to appeal to a simpler denominator. For example, they might ensure that people who are making sales pitches or performing in commercials are well-groomed and attractive.

Lesson: Use the concept of ‘Perceived Trustworthiness’

Practical Psychological Business Lessons
The concept of Perceived Trustworthiness is similar to the concept of perceived expertise. Perceived trustworthiness refers to the idea that people are more likely to make purchases from people who they perceive as trustworthy rather than people they perceive as someone they would not be able to trust.

There are many ways that people can improve how trustworthy they appear to others. Body language, such as a straight posture and good eye contact, can make people appear to be more trustworthy than those who avoid eye contact or slouch. In the field of business, trustworthiness can often be achieved through the appearance of acting neutral or even against the businesses’ interest—for example, a commercial which uses a “hidden camera” technique to make it appear as if random people on the street approve of their product (regardless of whether or not the ‘hidden camera’ segment is completely staged) make the company appear more trustworthy in the eyes of customers.
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