Marketing 101: Cognitive Dissonance

Thursday, May 11, 2017

marketing advice

The simplest way I can describe marketing is the following. It's what happens when Business, Art and Psychology has a lovechild. One of the most important concepts in Marketing is arguably Cognitive Dissonance. Otherwise known as the discomfort from contradicting ideas.

Cognitive Dissonance is eating solid coffee cubes. When marketed properly, it's a novelty. And it can be a lot of fun. However, the first time you heard of the idea, you were probably turned off. Simple reason, it went against everything you believed about coffee.

Coffee should be served hot or cold, in liquid form, and served in cups. Coffee is only to be eaten when it's in cake or ice cream. Coffee is not solid. But, GO CUBES are a real thing. When the product came out, people freaked out. It went against everything we knew about coffee. It was weird. Even Buzzfeed made fun of it. The founders of Nootrobox, who owns GO CUBES, were recently featured in Forbes 30 under 30. The point being Cognitive Dissonance can be a strong marketing tactic, when used appropriately.

But, would you drink a doughnut for breakfast? Probably not.
But if I told you there was a protein bar that tasted like a chocolate doughnut, marketed it towards athletes and had it placed in gyms, you wouldn't think twice about trying it.  

Consumers react to advertisements in ways that are comfortable to them. They will change their behavior just to justify their thoughts.

From a marketing standpoint, this means consumers change their buying behavior. So marketers change their behavior. We reframe the situation, so it will be comfortable for consumers. We limit our competitors to avoid customers from spending time regretting the decision of choosing our product. Service industries do follow ups and thank you notes. As marketers our goal is to make purchasing decisions as easy for consumers as possible. 

How to avoid  Cognitive Dissonance as a marketer

  1. Understand your market: Not everyone is your target market. Meaning not everyone is going to like your product. In fact a very small percentage of the population will be interested in your product. 
  2. Under promise & over deliver: When I started training for my current job, this was the advice my boss gave me. And it is how I run my department. Always under promise and over deliver. This allows the consumer to not have buyers regret. But also allows for your chance to "wow" the customer. 
  3. Follow up: This is especially important for small businesses. Follow up with your customers and ask for feedback to improve your service. In some cases that feedback is the only feedback you get on the item you are selling. This is also a great way to further your presence in the consumers lives. To some marketers this is sending a thank you card with a giftcard or coupon. To others it's sending out an email with a coupon for the next purchase. 

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