6 Event Psychology Principles To Use Now
You don’t have to be a psychologist to know that psychology plays an important role in all aspects of marketing. For example, event attendees often form their overall opinion of a brand experience by mentally compiling small details. (As a result, a growing number of event marketers emphasize the psychology of little details.) If you’re looking to use psychology to amp up the impact of your event marketing program, here are a few event psychology principles you can employ to attract and engage attendees.
Dr. Robert Cialdini introduced reciprocity in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The concept is simple – you first give something of value, in order to receive something in return.
Marketers employ this concept constantly (think promotional giveaways) as event psychology principles. And reciprocity doesn’t have to be expensive. You can share exclusive white papers or insight reports. Or offer meetings with experts for Q&A sessions. Your gift can even be as simple as an unexpected hand-written welcome note to delight event attendees.
Or go with something grander like the Converse Rubber Tracks program that offers free studio recording sessions for emerging musicians. Invite attendees to bring their toughest challenge. Offer time during your event for participants to work side-by-side with staff and jointly determine a solution.
The key to choosing the right gift is that what you offer has to be proportionate to the next step you want people to take. If all you’re doing is asking attendees to swipe their badge, you don’t need to offer much. But when you’re asking attendees to invest 15 minutes to participate in your experience, you’ll need to offer something bigger to make it worthy of their time.
2. Social Proof
As HubSpot explains, social proof is the concept that people will adopt the beliefs or actions of a group of people they like or trust. In other words, it’s the “me too” effect -- “Billions and billions served” or “Join over 20,000 marketers who receive our monthly newsletter.”
Make the most of social proof with your event communications. Promote how many other people have already signed up. Have a page on your event site that lists the companies and/or titles of those registered. Incorporate past attendees’ testimonials to support claims made about the value of your educational sessions.
Wikipedia defines priming as “An implicit memory effect in which exposure to one stimulus influences the response to another stimulus.” Psychology Today gives the example that a person who sees the word "yellow" will be slightly faster to recognize the word "banana,” because yellow and banana are more closely associated in memory.
For event marketers, subtle priming techniques can influence the decision-making process. In pre-show communications, lead with words that matter most to attendees. For example, if durability matters, mention “long-lasting” first in your product descriptions. Colors and images can also be used to prime emotions in your event psychology principles. Attract attention to new products in a trade show booth with brightly accented kiosks or signage. Or use green and blue colors (frequently associated with creativity) throughout the venue if you’re guests are brainstorming or collaborating.
4. Scarcity and Urgency
Another Cialdini concept goes back to the simple formula of supply and demand. One of the major event psychology principles is the rarer the opportunity, content, or product i, the more valuable it is.
Event marketers can use the scarcity principle to drive attendance. For example, send an email to those who haven’t registered and remind them only a few seats remain. Besides making your event seem extremely popular, it sends a subtle signal to register now before it’s too late.
5. Loss Aversion
The pain of loss is greater than the pleasure of gain — which is also known as fear of missing out (FOMO). HubSpot explains, “Loss aversion makes us feel more strongly about avoiding a loss than receiving a gain, and explains the endowment effect, our tendency to prefer things we already own over things we don’t.”
Offer a free product trial for those who sign-up on-site at your event. For many, the idea of losing access to something they’ve been using is a powerful motivator to become a paid user when their trial runs out.
Anchoring refers to the practice of relying heavily on the first piece of information we see to make subsequent judgments. This is why many e-commerce sites default to listing prices “highest to lowest.” If you first see $100 for a pair of jeans, then $50 for another pair, the $50 pair seems like a bargain.
This concept is especially important for marketers who sell products at an event. If you offer show specials, clearly state the regular price with the special price displayed right next to it. Communicating how much can be saved with an on-site purchase can boost sales.
Psychology can go a long way in helping you understand your audience, why they do the things they do – and how to use their innate behaviors to improve your ability to attract and engage attendees.