When you see an advertisement, it might seem pretty straightforward. They show you a product, maybe introduced by an annoying talking animal, they say how great it is and we all move on with our lives. But you’d be surprised how many advertising tricks have been stuffed into that ad. Marketers know exactly how to prey on customers’ subconscious and they do it constantly. From carefully worded catchphrases to hidden psychological tricks, that commercial is loaded with ways to make you more likely to hand your money over.
Up To 75% Off!
Advertisers love to throw big discounted numbers at you to grab your attention. Unfortunately you’re probably getting that 75% off a completely arbitrary number, not what the product usually sells for. Showing you a high list price is a strategy called anchoring and is one of the oldest advertising tricks in the book. When you see that price, that’s what you think it costs. Your brain anchors to that number. Then they cross it off with a much lower number and say “but look how much you save!”
This is the entire sales strategy of some companies. Amazon is notorious for it. Kohl’s is another big one. Have you ever talked to anyone after they shop at Kohl’s? They all say the same thing: “I just saved $745” as they hold up three shirts and a pair of jeans. No, you didn’t save anything. You just spent $100. That’s the opposite of saving. And that $20 shirt was not originally $200, I hate to break it to you.
Up To 75% Off!
Another one of the advertising tricks on those “big sale” signs are the words “Up To” hidden somewhere.
Guess what. Most of the stuff there isn’t 75% off. The sale sign is to get you in the door. The “Up To” just promises you that nothing will be over 75% off while conveniently leaving out the fact that most of what they sell won’t be that deeply discounted.
No Money Down!
Sure “no money down” sounds great. Who wants to pay money for something? Well now you don’t have to pay anything until later! Of course “no money down” means more money later. Instead of paying for some of that car, furniture, house or whatever now, you’re going to pay interest on 100% of the cost. That’s more total money out of your pocket!
“But there’s no interest for 12 months” you may say. That’s all well and good, but did you read the terms and conditions?
If you have any balance left at the end of your interest-free period – and I’m talking even a dollar – you owe the back interest on the whooooooole thing. Not quite the great deal anymore.
Maybe you’re like me and your brain just glosses over all the fast speak at the end of commercials. However, it’s pretty interesting if you listen to it. It’s basically like the terms and conditions, just read at a blazing fast speed so you don’t really catch it all. Why wouldn’t they want to catch it all? Because a lot of the time, it’s going to make the sweet deal they just told you about a lot less sweet.
- “Price and participation may vary” – soooooo not the price you just advertised?
- “Not available in all states” – so is this available to me or not?
- “Contract price only for the first year before adjusting to regular price” – that seems important
- “Side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, depression, suicidal thoughts, leprosy, dysentery, death” – oh no, I hate vomiting!
Don’t Wait, Act Now!
With infomercials being one of the biggest abusers of this, many advertisers want you to HURRY UP! If you call within the next FOUR SECONDS we will DOUBLE YOUR ORDER and send you a second neck magic air cushion FREE!
Why are they rushing you? Because they know if you think about it for longer than four seconds, you’re going to think of a reason not to buy it. So they tell you why you need something, tell you it’s a great deal and then throw in a freebie but only if you HURRY! It pays off a lot more to stop and think about if you really need to double your order of sauna pants for $40.
While Supplies Last!
One of the classic advertising tricks is the impression of scarcity. Nothing gets money out faster than thinking you’re about to lose out on a great deal while someone else gets the last one. Companies do this all the time. Here’s a price listing for a highly-rated, top-selling flat screen TV on Amazon.
Only 9 left in stock! The next 9 people that buy this TV will enjoy beautiful HD graphics and fantastic sound. The rest of you will never experience that joy. You’ll be stuck in standard definition hell for the rest of your lives. OR Amazon will just crank the count back up to “Only 12 left in stock” and keep on selling them forever. If customers are buying it, they’re going to keep on selling it. Don’t expect Amazon or most other stores to run out of anything any time soon.