9 Weird Psychological Tricks to Get Customers to Take Action

Oct 16, 2010   //   by Zeke Camusio   //   internet marketing, SEO Blog  //  10 Comments

Great marketers are also great observers of human behavior. They pay attention to their own behaviors and figure out what it is that gets them to buy or make decisions. It’s something that business schools just don’t teach. This is what gives the best marketers in the world the edge that everyone else just dreams about. These are the 9 weird psychological tricks they know.


Have you ever bought something because the original price was $100, but was now just $50. This is because everything is either a great deal or an awful deal based on what you compare it with.

What this means to you? You should have a bad offer on your website. Yes, I’m serious! Every time we’ve tested it, it has proven true. It makes your main offer look great. One of our clients was selling 4 bottles of his product at $89. We added an option to the site for 1 bottle at $75. His sales (for the 4-bottle package) increased by about 60%. Decoy offers make “the real offer” look very, very good.


In his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, Robert Cialdini talks about an experiment he did.

Group A was asked to put a huge sign in their yards that said “Drive slow; kids playing”. Most of the people in Group A said no.

Group B was asked to put a tiny sticker in their windows with the same text. Almost everyone agreed. Then they were asked to put the giant sign in their yards. A large percentage in Group B agreed.

The takeaway? People want to be consistent with previous actions. If they said yes to something in the past, they’re more likely to say yes in the future.

What does this mean to you? You need to get your prospects to say yes to something. And the best way to do this is by asking for a tiny micro-commitment. For example, if you sell a $2,000 coaching program, you can have a funnel that looks like this:

  1. Download free report (only 3 pages; it can be read in 10 minutes)
  2. Get my free videos (total 45 minutes)
  3. Get my DVD (only $19.99)
  4. Free 10-minute phone consultation for people who bought the DVD (deliver a lot of value here. Provide “useful but incomplete” information. Keep them wanting more.)
  5. Group training ($499 and includes a 110% money back guarantee)
  6.  Private coaching ($2,000 and includes a 200% money back guarantee)

High Price = High Quality

A $500 tennis racket is always going to be better than a $100 racket, right? Isn’t a $400 office chair always going to be better than that $100 chair? No, of course not. But as the buyer perceives it: “If it cost that much, it must be good.”

What this means to you? You are hurting yourself by charging too little for your products. Raise your prices and increase the perceived value of your stuff.


People want what they can’t have. Do you want the new phone that’s sold out everywhere or one you can get anywhere? What restaurant would you rather go to: the one that is fully booked for the next 3 months or the one that’s empty?

What this means to you? Let your prospects know you don’t take just anyone as a client. Tell them they need to apply and that you only select those clients that are a good fit. This will make them want you even more!

If you sell products, try this: in your copy say who SHOULDN’T buy your product. For example, if you sell artisan bread try saying “this bread isn’t for people looking for mass-produced loafs of blandness. If you’re the kind of person who appreciates hand-crafted bread that’s full of flavor, you’re in the right place.”

Social Validation

Everyone wants to be liked and they want others to think they make smart decisions.

What this means to you? Explain why buying your product is a SMART decision. People will need to justify their actions with others and they’ll repeat whatever you say. Make a compelling argument so people feel good about buying your stuff. (And, make sure your stuff is extremely good!)

Too Many Choices = No Action
Don’t you hate when you want to buy a laptop, you go to eBay and they have 2,000,000 laptops to choose from? You think “OMG! I’ll be here all day!”

What this means to you: narrow down the choices you give your visitors and you’ll increase your sales instantly.


If an offer may be gone tomorrow, than a person is more likely to take action today.

What this means to you: don’t just give people reasons to act; tell them why they need to act NOW! Some ideas:

  • This offer expires on Sunday
  • I’ll take only one client this week
  • I’ll only be teaching this to 8 people
  • Only 6 items left. When they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

Risk Reversal
Risks = “Reasons Not to Act”. Therefore; the less risky an action is, the more likely someone will take action.

What this means to you: Go beyond the standard “money back guarantee”. Some ideas:

  • Offer FREE shipping on returns. (It has worked wonders for Zappos.com)
  • Offer a FREE trial and let them keep something, just for trying it out.
  • Ship the product now but don’t charge them for 30 days. If the customer returns the product within 30 days, then they never get charged!

Guarantee results, not just “satisfaction”. Get very specific.

Note: Depending on your market, about 1% of the people will rip you off, but your sales will double. Do the math for yourself and you’ll see that it’s still worth it! Remember: your market is going to be taken by the boldest marketers. This could be you or it could be your competitors. Don’t let the fear of losing stop you from winning. If you’re afraid of things going wrong, start by testing your guarantee on 200 sales and keep some reserve cash just in case. Then compare the extra sales with the refunds you had to give and see if it makes sense to keep doing it.

Sex Sells

This one isn’t weird but it is 100 percent true. Sex sells. That’s why models are hired to sell products.

What this means to you: you need attractive people to show your products. Don’t just use your cousin Joe (the one with the beer belly) because he’ll do it for nothing. Use stock photos or if you need a model put an ad on Craigslist and you’ll get very attractive -although not famous- people to feature your products.

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Zeke Camusio

Zeke Camusio is a serial entrepreneur, Internet marketing expert, published author, speaker and founder of an Internet Marketing Agency in Portland, OR.

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  • David Leonhardt

    So raise your prices and get more customers. Counter-intuitive, but it's probably true in any niche where "frugal" is not the way people are thinking.

  • Zeke Camusio says:

    It does seem counter-intuitive and for commodities, like gasoline, the lowest price is king. But anytime the customer isn't comparing apples to apples, the customer will always look to price to determine quality. Just imagine two lawyers. If lawyer A is charging twice as much as lawyer B, without knowing anything else, you'll assume the more expensive lawyer (Lawyer A) is better. How else is lawyer A able to charge more unless he/she is truly better? Now, ultimately value is what every customer is looking for, so if you're charging a higher price then the competition you better deliver a higher quality service. Most people believe that "you get what you pay for".
    Thanks for the comment David.

  • Gerald Weber

    @David & @Zeke

    The more expensive is often times perceived as the better product or service and in my experience this is the case more times than not. Of course this is not always the case.

    Since I started my business 5 years ago I have had to raise prices significantly, because I was getting too many clients. More demand than supply if you will, so I have raised my prices. It turns out the increase price actually reflects a better service because my skills have increased greatly over the 5 year period.

    Not to say you should just buy blindly on a higher price without looking any further, by all means do some due diligence. But there is almost always some truth to the phrase "You get what you pay for"

  • Ana

    Awesome article, Zeke – a lot to think about.

    The only thing I'd be concerned about is scarcity. I think it's been abused lately; EVERYBODY seems to be doing it. So the reaction from my list is usually – come on, give me a break.


    Ana Hoffman http://www.TrafficGenerationCafe.com

  • Chris

    Wow… great info. I especially like the "funnel" idea. Start small, and work your way up. I'm going to implement that strategy on my blog site. Thanks for the ideas!

  • CommentLuv says:

    what a lot of great advice. I really like the decoy product idea, that makes a lot of sense and thinking about it, has caught me more than a few times!
    My recent post Facebook page for CommentLuv

  • Kirsty says:

    Most people thought that the higher the price the better is the quality. Which is sometimes not true. I have a tour on the home design store and choose some tiles. I wonder why they have different prices when the design are just similar. And they said that the two have the same quality but the difference is that the other one is imported and because of the travel expenses. The price is much different.
    My recent post GoECart Review

  • @DamonDay says:

    Hey Zeke,
    Great article. I hate using a lot of these tactics because as Ana indicated, I too think many of them are so over used now days that people get turned off by them. The reality is though that they are still effective.

    I still for the most part stay away from these tactics and I know it is to the detriment of my bottom line, but once in awhile I will use a few simply because in my line of work, the most important thing for me is to help consumers get out of their own way, and get the information that they need to resolve their problem.
    My recent post Legal Helpers Debt Resolution Sued in 30 Page Complaint Filed by Illinois AG

  • Matt says:

    One thing that should be learned early is do not compete on price. If you see yourself as a commodity, you will always struggle. People can always find way to go cheaper. It is a loser’s game. By learning the psychology of buying, moveover by learning your target markets psychology you can command premium dollars and stand apart from the competition.

  • You could certainly see your expertise within the paintings you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.