Mind Over Matter

Sigmund Freud and B.F. Skinner may be dead, but they can still help your business.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the February 1998 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

Guerrilla marketers don't rely on guesswork. Why? Because wrong guesses are expensive. Instead, they rely on psychology as much as possible. Many psychological theories are actually considered laws of human behavior. Guerrillas lean on these laws because they want certainty to be a hallmark of their marketing.

Following are 10 things guerrillas know about using psychology in marketing to transform guesswork into science--and make their efforts pay off.

1. Purchase decisions are made subconsciously. People may say the words consciously, but they process the data in their subconscious.

2. Experts now know how to access the subconscious mind: with repetition. Put these two thoughts together--purchase decisions are made in the subconscious, and you can access the subconscious with repetition--and you begin to understand an important facet of guerrilla marketing.

3. People are either left-brained or right-brained. Left-brained people respond to sequential, logical information and love marketing that gives them 10 reasons to buy. Right-brained people respond to emotional, aesthetic appeals and love marketing that looks stunning and tugs at their heartstrings. Guerrillas create marketing materials that attract both left- and right-brained consumers.

4. Businesses that succeed are those that form two bonds with all customers: the human bond and the business bond. The stronger the human bond, the stronger the business bond.

5. All marketing has two messages: the stated message and the metamessage. The stated message is what you actually say. The metamessage, often the stronger of the two, involves what your marketing looks like, what it feels like, where it appears, what size it is and how professional it appears.

6. There are two schools of marketing hard at work in America these days: Freudian marketing, which is based on Sigmund Freud's work and aims for a change of attitude, and Skinnerian marketing, based on B.F. Skinner's proof of the power of behavior modification.

Which method does a guerrilla choose? Both. Guerrillas constantly attempt to shape attitudes while peppering their prospects with special offers that require instant action.

7. People hate taking the hard step of buying something, so guerrillas use soft steps to make the process easier. Soft steps include things like free consultations and seminars, brochures, videos, demonstrations and free samples.

8. Full-color marketing materials increase data retention and inclination to buy.

9. Customers will look more favorably on you if you show them you genuinely want them to succeed.

10. Customers like to feel special. That's not always easy to accomplish, but it's necessary.

Jay Conrad Levinson is author of the internationally acclaimed Guerrilla Marketing series of books and co-founder of Guerrilla Marketing International. For information on the Guerrilla Marketing Newsletter and other products and services, write to P.O. Box 1336, Mill Valley, CA 94942; call (800) 748-6444; or visit the Web site at http://www.gmarketing.com

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