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Why Simplicity Is Key To Selling
Cognitive fluency refers to the ease with which the brain processes information. It is human nature to prefer things that are familiar and easy to understand. Jacoby and Dallas in 1981 argued that items from experience are processed more fluently, and fluency leads to familiarity, and this can influence the choice. The latest section of my digital psychology course through the CXL Institute focuses on how to ensure your product is easy to purchase because of the way it is promoted.
What this means for marketers is that the easier it is to understand your offer to consumers, the more likely they are to buy it. A rather intuitive idea, psychologists are only beginning to uncover the fascinating way that fluency guides our thinking and in situations where we have no idea that this is at work.
The bias towards simplicity
Psychologists have concluded that shares in companies with easy to pronounce names significantly outperform those with hard-to-pronounce names. Other studies have shown that when presenting people with a factual statement, manipulations that make the statement easier to process like making it rhyme or repeating it mentally, can change someone’s judgement of the truth of the statement, along with confidence in their abilities and judgements.
Because fluency shapes our thinking in so many ways, this concept is truly relevant in decisions about everything from the products or services we buy to the people we find attractive and the candidates we vote for. Similar techniques can get people to be more forgiving, adventurous and candid about their shortcomings.
Easy reading wins
When people read something in a font that is difficult, the tendency is to transfer that sense of difficulty to the subject matter. Norbert Schwarz, a leading fluency researcher, and his former student Hyunjin Song discovered that when people read about an exercise routine or a recipe in a less legible font, they tend to rate the exercise more difficult and the recipe more complicated than if they read about them in a clearer font.
Preference fluency in choice
A study undertaken by Nathan Novemsky and his colleagues proposed that consumer choice is often systematically influenced by preference. When we consider the adoption of new behaviours, we often try to assess how much effort they will require. If you list the features and benefits of a product in an easy to read font VS difficult to read font, those with an easy to read font will more than likely dominate the number of people willing to purchase the product.
Simplicity drives consistency through repetition
Cognitive fluency also explains why you stick with brand and service providers you have used before and why you have the tendency to order the same thing from a menu that you have ordered in the past. You know that you are getting great value for your money and it tastes good. Spending too much time analysing a new option is sometimes too painful and uncomfortable, and you do not want to risk making a bad choice.
First impressions are important
This illustrates to marketers how important it is to acquire that first purchase from a customer. If you ensure the first offer is packed with added benefits and is easy to purchase, you will experience that once they have bought from you, they will find it easier to buy again and again.
The same applies to the way you shop online. Generally, you will prefer visiting sites that you are familiar with and already instinctively know where everything is. Interestingly, cognitive fluency stems from another area of behaviour known as the mere exposure effect or familiarity principle. This causes human beings to rate or feel positively towards things to which they are frequently exposed to consistently.
Consumers opt for a safe space
On average, you will purchase products or frequent places and engage in behaviours that are familiar to you based on past experiences. At times there is no basis in rationality when it comes to these decisions, and the results which are obtained may not be received as well.
An example of this principle could be a situation where you are walking around a park close to where you live with a water feature. Suddenly you see a small child trip over a rock into the water feature. Your first instinct will be to rip off your shoes, jacket and jump into the water to save the child. One thing you will need to decide is who to leave your valuables with (your wallet or mobile).
You spot two individuals nearby, one who you regularly see exercising and another one whom you have not seen before. You have no idea if any of these individuals are trustworthy, but you must make a quick decision. So, your subconscious brain tells you to give your valuables to the man you see more often, the one you are more familiar with, even though he could be someone that runs away with your wallet or mobile.
The devil is in the details
This goes to show that seemingly insignificant details can leave surprising impressions on our perception and behaviour. If information is made to appear simple, we are more naturally receptive to it.
If it appears complicated, we are more likely to ignore it. As a rule of thumb, anything that affects the ease or difficulty of mental processing will affect people’s perception of your brand.
If you need to persuade a customer to do something, keep it simple!
About the author
I'm a prolific writer and paid media specialist with over 15 years of writing experience. I immerse myself in my client's brand by asking pertinent questions at the start of any creative process in order to deliver copy or campaigns that are on point. I also run a digital brand called Colab-Digital and assist clients with digital marketing efforts in order to help them win more customers and be relevant with their offer to market.
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