Since the beginning of our existence, we’ve naturally formed communities, but why? What purpose did community serve, and perhaps more important today, how can your business use the knowledge of our ancestors to build community around your product or service?
A basic understanding of psychology can help. Of importance is learning to understand how we think as human beings. For your business, this means knowing your customers: current and future, inside and out. What is important to them? What are their pain points? Investing time in getting to know how your customer base thinks allows you to be more strategic in your marketing efforts.
With that, here are four ways to inspire strangers using psychology.
Learn to understand what motivates the people you’re targeting. Are they a small business looking for a simple solution? Or are you selling to individuals wanting to look cool.
Become familiar with the individual differences among your customer base, for example, socioeconomic status, age, gender, ethnicity, etc. Use this information to create customer personas for different customer subsets.
Next you’ll want to understand the pain points of your customers from a psychological perspective. For example, a trendy clothing company should know that their customers buy for social validation. Clothing is the ultimate means to express yourself without saying so.
If you know this, you can exploit it—in a good way.
Create Vivid Imagery
If you don’t know, better to ask. I learned this from my parents, but it extends to business as well. You may not work in a service industry per se, but you should assume the mindset that you are. Your job is to serve your customers.
Ask your customers what their biggest challenge is—what pains them? Take this even further and ask them how you can help to mitigate this pain. This can be informal; you can ask them on Twitter or Facebook, or via an email blast.
I use the word pain because it immediately elicits an emotional reaction. It creates a vivid image when compared to a boring word like "problem." You’d be surprised at how your community reacts to simple wording swaps.
Leverage Our Need to Belong
As humans, we want to be accepted and affiliated with others. This is what drives us to seek out social, casual, and intimate relationships. We need to feel a part of something bigger than the sum of our parts in order to feel fulfilled.
Savvy brands understand this, and they frame their messaging to make their customers feel loved and cared about. People identify with the "why" of your business more than the "what." Why are you selling your product or service? What problem does it solve?
Start by ensuring your understand exactly where it is online your customers are. Is it Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or even reddit?
Next, listen in on the conversations to ensure you master the cultural norms around the social network or website. This is their turf, not yours. When you do start to interact, speak the language of your community.
Comments, retweets and +1s are all examples of 2D interactions that create touchpoints (or that warm, fuzzy feeling) for your customers.
Empathy and Intrinsic Motivators
Why are you reading this article? Are you trying to learn how you can reach more customers and sell more widgets for your business? This is likely the case as I doubt you are reading this because you receive rewards to do so.
This is what intrinsic motivation is: motivation to do something because of an internal pleasure or benefit as opposed to external reward. You do it because you want to. This is a fancy way of saying that you need to flip the psychology in the business to customer relationship.
Make it about what you can do them your customer, not what your customer is doing for you (by buying your product or service).
Empathy is your bestfriend when using psychology to motivate your customers. Before you write any email, Tweet, blog post for your business, put yourself in your customers shoes.
What emotions are they going to feel when they read this email or Tweet? Compare this with what emotions you want them to feel and adjust your messaging.
When it comes to motivation: nuance and subtlety cannot be stressed enough. Treat your customers like real people, not numbers and cogs in the machine.
Your job is to communicate that you care about them, at scale. They need to know that you take pleasure in helping them succeed. Kindness is not forgotten, so if you bake in a little psychology into your day to day operations, you’ll create a loyal community around your business.
Treat your messaging and customer interactions with the mindset of service, the social capital you build can last a lifetime.
For a deeper dive into using psychology to market and build a loyal customer community around your business, check out my session at CM Campaway in June. I’ll share how we’ve used some of the principles outlined above to build a community of 10 million HootSuite users.
The first in a series from Community Manager CampAway produced by Invoke Labs.