My finances, my projects, my life
April 13, 2024

Five tips to better position your products and services

Just launched a new product or service, or created an online store? Want to stand out from the competition? Here are five simple tips to help you win new customers.

Key takeaways

    • To save time and speed up decision-making, the brain automates a large number of simple decisions based on past experience.
    • The right strategy for your brand is to ensure these automatic decisions favour your offer rather than a competitor’s.
    • This means making life easier for the consumer and placing your offer in a value-enhancing environment and context.
    • It also means describing your product clearly and reducing customer uncertainty.
    • Lastly, try to meet your customer’s expectations and make the actual act of buying as simple as possible by reducing the hassle of payment.

Before getting a UX designer to redesign your site or carrying out costly market research to pinpoint why your offer hasn’t been as successful as hoped for, first make sure to follow a few best practices taken from behavioural science as applied to consumer psychology. This may allow you to rapidly improve your appeal and increase your impact on target customers.

Reduce the cognitive load of decision-making

Do you remember the last time you bought butter? Did you read all information on all the nutrients in every brand of butter on offer? Did you check all the expiry dates and compare all prices to make sure your purchasing decision was as rational as possible? Did you analyse the animal welfare or environmental policies pursued by the various brands available on the shelves? Your answer to these questions is almost certainly “no”. Like the vast majority, you probably bought your usual brand of butter without giving it a second thought. With good reason, since to save energy the brain automates a large number of simple decisions based on past experience.

Faced with a familiar situation, we unconsciously read the clues in our environment (same shop as usual, same aisle as the butter, same packaging, etc.) and make our decision intuitively. This saves time and energy. These intuitive shortcuts, or “heuristics”, allow us to automate good decisions made in the past. This automation depends on the familiarity cues that our brain picks up from a given situation. Decision-making is therefore highly dependent on the context and environment in which the decisions are made. This is true whether we’re buying a piece of butter, a car or even investing in shares.

In today’s society, we’re confronted each day with a wide range of products and services, both in shops and online. Faced with this overload of options, the brain tends to switch off and has great difficulty making a rational choice. It instead opts for what seems like the simplest solution, even when this solution isn’t necessarily the best. In our example, the simplest solution is to buy the usual product, i.e. to stick with the default option. Our brain prefers the satisfaction of the correct choice to searching for a potentially perfect choice when the latter is deemed too energy-intensive.

Often our brain prefers the satisfaction of the correct choice to searching for a perfect choice when the latter is deemed too energy-intensive.

Let’s get back to your offer. To make your new product or service stand out, you need to simplify the consumer’s decision-making process by reducing the cognitive load. This is the basis of consumer psychology. Where this element is neglected from the start, all other strategies, no matter how sophisticated, will fail to achieve their objectives.

Here are five behavioural tips to help you promote automated decision-making that will make your offer stand out from the crowd.

1. Identify the right context for presenting your product

Do you know why Maserati or Rolls-Royce avoid showing their cars at traditional motor shows? Simply because their cars might appear disproportionately expensive. Instead, both manufacturers prefer to display their vehicles at yacht or aviation shows where the prices of their vehicles seem “reasonable” in comparison.

This perfectly illustrates the importance of considering the environment in which customers will see your product and the alternatives with which they’ll compare it. It all comes down to perspective and comparison. Always ask yourself whether your product is presented in the right context and environment when it comes to reaching the target clientèle.

2. Spend time finding the right description

Apple excels in the art of telling stories to describe the features of its products, which on average are much more expensive than those of its competitors. This price difference clearly doesn’t hold back sales. The Apple brand even has a vast community of fans who swear by it. Moral of the story: price isn’t everything!

If your offer is more expensive than the competition and there’s good reason for this, explain the reasons rather than trying to hide your prices on a separate page of your website. Use a captivating story or video testimony to communicate the artisanal dimension of the product’s production process, the superiority of its materials, the choice of local suppliers or the philanthropic commitment associated with the profits it generates. It has been shown1 that the perceived value of the product will increase if it’s described in a way that allows your customers to see what actually goes on behind the scenes. If the perceived value increases, your customers will be willing to pay more.

If the perceived value increases, your customers will be willing to pay more.

3. Minimise uncertainty

Uncertainty slows things down and encourages inertia. When your customer has incomplete or insufficient information, or when their concerns aren’t taken into account, they’ll stick with what they’ve already done or already know. Often, this means not buying.

Uncertainty is one of the worst feelings a customer can have when making a purchase. Customers avoid situations that provoke uncertainty, abandon the buying process and leave unsatisfied. The more ambiguity there is around a product or service, the less customers perceive its value. This reduction in value is known as the “uncertainty tax”. So even if your offer has multiple arguments in its favour, there’s still a strong chance the customer will overlook you if a concern or question remains unanswered. On the other hand, with no uncertainty or ambiguity, one good sales argument can be more than enough to achieve a purchase.

Remember that it’s essential to identify and address the various sources of uncertainty before you even think about how to motivate a customer to commit to you. A comprehensive FAQ section, customer reviews and video tutorials are all ways of achieving this. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and communicate accordingly. For example, if you sell clothes online, make sure to describe how your clothes fit compared to competitors.

4. Be responsive and attentive

One of the most important psychological tips for increasing sales is to show you care. Responding quickly is the easiest way to do this, but this requires significant resources. In today’s digital society where immediacy is the rule, most people expect a response in minutes.

Potential buyers like to feel they’re being listened to and receiving special, personalised treatment. When this isn’t possible, try to make a good first impression by creating automatic response systems (SMS, chatbot, etc.) which confirm that requests have been taken on board. Then take the time to respond to more specific questions. An attentive and caring relationship is a key feature of long-term customer loyalty.

Responsiveness and consideration shouldn’t be limited to the time of purchase; they should be just as applicable once the order has been placed (automatic message acknowledging receipt of order, automatic system for tracking order status up to delivery, etc.).

Even when you actually want to buy a product, the payment process is still painful. Make the payment process as painless as possible.

5. Reduce the pain of payment

We all have an aversion to loss and so paying is always a painful psychological act. Even when you actually want to buy a product, the payment process is still painful. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to make this process as painless as possible.

Consider providing various payment methods and even the option of spreading payment over time if the products you sell are expensive. Do you sell a hygiene product that needs frequent replacement? Why not set up a subscription system with automatic delivery and payment? Similarly, offers grouped into packages make it possible to reduce the unit price. This source of satisfaction for your customer partly offsets the pain of payment. Do what you can to make life easier for your customers and increase the pleasure of buying, so that they focus less on the act of payment itself.

Conscientiously applying these five behavioural tips doesn’t guarantee a large number of customers, but at least you’ll avoid losing any before the act of buying. Good luck!

1 Andrea C. Morales, “Giving Firms an “E” for Effort: Consumer Responses to High-Effort Firms”, Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 31, Issue 4, March 2005.