The Insane Psychology Behind Marketing

psychology of marketing

I get asked a lot, “Andrew, how did you get into marketing?”, “What got you interested in doing this”, “Why did you pick marketing, out of everything?”. Well, to be honest, is was the insane psychology behind marketing that intrigued me the most.

Everyone talks about A/B testing, knowing your audience, setting certain strategies in certain ways to coerce people into buying their product or service, etc. But, no one talks about why those strategies worked. I am a firm believer that if you can understand more how a person/customer ticks or how the human brain works, THAT is what makes a successful marketer.


I could sit here and talk about this all day so I’m going to do my best to put all of this into perspective for you. For instance, let’s take the picture I selected for this post:

psychology of marketing

This type of picture is clearly eye-catching (and a little creepy, I’ll admit), but what does a person in a straight-jacket with some blood splatter behind them have to do with the psychology of marketing?

Well, it’s in the title. The average person sees the word “psychology” and immediately thinks, “psycho” because that is how that word is often interpreted, and I have set my branding to be black and white with one thing in each image to be bright red.

Why red?

Have you ever heard that cops are more likely to pull over a red car than any other car? Well, this it is partially true (they came in 2nd). Not because people who drive red cars drive faster, it’s because the human eye is actually attracted to the color red. And, in comparison to basic colors like black and white, it can actually cause red to stand out even more. So when I thought psycho, I thought something red? Why not blood splatter?


size interpretation in marketing

So, I did what I could to drive your attention to this page, now how do I keep you here? We all know the average attention span of an adult now is about the same as a goldfish. So, you may notice that these paragraphs are significantly shorter than some other things you read on the internet.

That’s because, when you break up text more it doesn’t look like it’s going to be that long of a read even though it’s the same amount of words. By breaking it up, your perspective is that this post is an easy read.

Size does matter.

You’ll also see multiple titles which are giving you even more of a reason to assume this is an easier and shorter post.


visual learners in marketing

The average person is a visual learner, so you’ll even notice I added an image to every section of this post. Some of them aren’t even that relevant, but by breaking up the text with an image that is vaguely relevant to each section I’m leading you to believe that this will be an easy read and you’ll be more inclined to read the whole thing.

I would bet if I re-did this post, took away all of the titles, paragraphs, and images I wouldn’t get half as many people reading it.

I know my average reader is going to want knowledge, but also to be entertained, so by understanding how I can manipulate you to stay on my website longer and longer, I’m going to make it look like this is the easier post you’ve ever read, just by formatting.


human emotion in marketing

You see, a lot of marketers will A/B test something, figure out which works best, select that strategy and move on. But no one ever asks why you got certain results for a test. We just think “Okay, this strategy works best, cool.”, no one ever asks “Why?”.

I believe a good marketer will be able to know why a certain strategy worked better than others and utilize that in their next strategy.

For example, if I run an A/B Facebook ad and B gives me the best results, I want to know why B worked better. Learning about your customers and how they react to certain things can result in better testing and even money saved on testing.


manipulation in marketing

[bctt tweet=”Marketing is just the manipulation of the consumer’s mind to get them to buy.” username=”@andrewmaff”]

I am utterly fascinated with how marketers can do certain things and say certain words to convince a customer to buy something. We’re like salesmen mixed with hypnotists. One day, I think this topic will be what I write a book about.

Think about it, if you could know your customer so well that you would even be able to understand how they think, you could learn how they would react to certain things which would allow you to manipulate them into doing what you want them to.  By using certain words, certain colors, and portraying certain emotions in the right order you could get your customers to do whatever you want.

Let’s try a real life example:

I approach a girl at a bar, she has a Chanel purse, Tiffany bracelet, she’s drinking a glass of red wine, her hair is perfectly straight and she’s dressed a little provocative but not too bad, let’s say a low cut dress but it’s long, down to her shins.

Just looking at this girl I can assume a few different things:

  1. She’s going to be a little stuck-up, she has money and may know her wines and typically that means she’s going to be a little full of herself and a tough sell.
  2. She’s high maintenance, all of her accessories are not cheap which also makes me believe that wine she’s drinking isn’t cheap.
  3. She is interested in meeting someone, hence the low-cut dress to draw attention, BUT she is not trying to take a guy home that night, she just wants to meet someone and possibly hang out again later, hence the longer dress.
  4. Although she does want to meet someone, the longer dress is telling me she is a conservative so I do need to treat her like a lady and not just some trashy bar girl. The wine tells me this too, if she was drinking a vodka and cranberry this would be a different story.
  5. If I want to approach her I need to casually strike up a conversation and work from there, going up to her with a shitty one-liner may get me slapped with this one.

Now, before I go on I would like to make something very clear. I am NOT saying all women like this are stuck up, I am NOT saying anything along those lines, I don’t assume every girl at a bar wants to be hit on. This is just what I would be thinking if I wanted to approach her, so calm down.

Okay, where were we?

By looking at her I was able to make a judgment on how I think she is going to want to be spoken to, then I’m going to ease myself into a conversation and work from there.

In this scenario, she is the customer, I know a little bit about her but not that much so I need to get to know her to sell her my product (hehe sorry, I had to). I’m not going to go up to her and scream “SEX!”. Doing that is just like these stupid brands out there that shove advertisements and discounts in their customers face all of the time instead of trying to cater to what they want. If I shoved something in this girls face I would definitely be getting pepper sprayed, so why would I do it to my customers?

If my goal is to take this girl home then I need to ease into the conversation (essentially offering her just good content) then when I’ve learned more about her that is when I make my sales pitch, “Hey, want to get out of here?”.

So, during this conversation I was able to see what my customer wanted and how I could help them. I put her first, not me. That’s what businesses need to do.

[bctt tweet=”Marketing is like picking up chicks at a bar.” username=”@andrewmaff”]


psychology in marketing

As I had mentioned, I could sit here all day and talk about how marketing is much more than just testing and seeing what works, it’s about learning who your customer is and using that knowledge to get them to buy.

You need to know your customer better than you know yourself. Put yourself in their shoes, get in their brain, find ways to manipulate it.

To give you an example I worked on a brand in the past where they sold household products. In this case, it is okay to stereotype. A majority of our customers were moms, females from 25-40 who were always home taking care of the house and their kids. We didn’t sell kids products, but if you looked at my social media or our advertisements, you’ll see a TON of kids. I do this to sympathize with the customer and show them that we feel their pain of dealing with kids.

I was even able to work an emotional angle by doing advertisements showing kids who made a mess in the house. Our stereotypical customer would look at the ad and think “Ugh, I hate when that happens! I should by this so I have it for next time my kid makes a mess.” I was able to manipulate their feelings based on what I knew about them.

Keep your friends close and your customers even closer. Come up with a few different personal profiles of your ideal customer and stereotype the hell out of them, then use that knowledge to manipulate them into buying what you’re selling.


I love this topic and I’m sure I’ll do more posts about it but if you think I missed something here comment below and tell me, maybe I’ll add it or do a new post about it.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *