The first Marketing book I would recommend is not strictly a Marketing book. “Sway, The Irresistable Pull of Irrational Behaviour”, was written by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman, two Israeli brothers with education in Business and Psychology respectively. It delves into the human psyche and creates an understanding of what makes humans act the way they do, and make the decisions they make. From a Marketing perspective the ability to cipher what will make consumers act in particular ways is the industries version of gold dust, and this book is an excellent starting point for any marketer looking to build an understanding of consumer psychology.
If a charity were to ask you to give up your time to help them, say in a raffle sale, or were to offer you a nominal sum to help them, which offer would you more likely accept? Basic economic theory states that some money, even if it is nominal, is better than no money. However, as explained in SWAY, two parts of the brain are at play that cannot function at the same time. When asked to undertake an activity for charity, the Altruism Centre of your brain is in function. This is an area that does not take a lot of stimulation. However, whenever reward is added to an equation, the Nucleus Accumbens part of the brain takes over, which is stronger than the Altrusim Centre and in essence closes this part down. This part of the brain takes a lot of stimulation, and so mediocre rewards will not suffice in order to make it accept an offer. This is what made the citizens of a town in Switzerland agreement numbers to allowing nuclear waste being dumped in their town go down when offered monetary reward, and what makes you more likely to do your friends a favor if they don’t offer you money.
The next time you've created a questionnaire, or need any consumer feedback, consider how's best to get them to cooperate? Is it through offering them a meaningless prize...or through appealing to their Altruism Centre?
This is just one example of the widely researched psychology theories used within this book. If you want to learn a basic understanding of what makes your customers act the way they do, you could do a lot worse than logging onto Amazon and looking up this book.