How To Market Scientifically To Make Your Customers Happy

I’m reporting from HubSpot’s inbound marketing conference#Inbound13, at which more than 5,000 marketing fanatics are united to hear speakers ranging from publisher Arianna Huffington to marketing expert and What’s The Future of Business author Brian Solis.

How To Market Scientifically To Make Your Customers Happy image Inbound13HappinessHow To Market Scientifically To Make Your Customers Happy

(L-R: Elizabeth Dunn, Dunn presenting, Christina Milanowski with Brian Solis & HubSpot’s ‘”Inbound” is the new marketing’ graphic)

How To Market Scientifically To Make Your Customers Happy image 9781451665062 p0 v4 s260x420How To Market Scientifically To Make Your Customers HappyOf special interest to me was Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, who shared fascinating concepts about consumer psychology and how to make customers – your customers – happy. Dunn, who is a co-author alongside Michael Norton of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending and an associate professor of psychology at University of British Columbia, presented on “Happy Customers: Creating a Better Customer Experience.”

“Yes!,” Dr. Dunn screamed. You can give happiness to your customers, make a shopping experience worthwhile for all involved, and affect how customers feel happy with your product service offerings and marketing campaigns. Dunn started by acknowledging that money is correlated to happiness – but not entirely. Statistics show that salaries result in only incremental happiness after a certain amount; in Dunn’s example it was $75,000.

To overcome this, Dunn has recommendations for marketers based on scientific findings from her recent book. Though her concepts of “Buy Time” and “Pay Now, Consume Later” (as described in this Times Higher Education review) were not included in her talk, she focused her speech on these other three principles in the book:

1. Buying Experiences.

Professor Dunn’s studies found that consumers much prefer (well, regret less) experiences over purchasing goods. For your customers, experiencing something first hand may be infinitely more valuable than purchasing an indurable or physical product. Key ingredients for experiences include: “memorable, unique and social.” Take, for example, the Tough Mudder athletic races in which participants run through ten miles of obstacles designed by British Special Forces, such as burning stacks of hay and electric shocks – and pay money for it! Why? Dunn says that the Tough Mudder activity builds someone’s “experiential CV.” The rewards are inmeasurable to the racers.

How To Market Scientifically To Make Your Customers Happy image Screen Shot 2013 08 21 at 11.14.37 PM 600x368How To Market Scientifically To Make Your Customers Happy

2. Make It A Treat.

Abundance is the enemy of appreciation. Limiting access to a product will make people want it more. An example Professor Dunn gave was the Potty Palooza event series from Charmin. The toilet paper company gave festival goers treats in the form of cozy, warmly lit bathrooms stocked with plush bathroom tissue. This surprise delighted potential Charmin customers who were otherwise experiencing standard portable bathrooms.

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Sometimes dubbed ‘scarcity marking,’ Dunn noted that there is a striking difference between what people say they want versus what actually makes them happy. Still, Dunn says that boredom can be a toxic force for human relations. Breaks from monotony can help to revirginize an action. The novelty, disruption and limited availability of something is so important for human beings’ relationships and livelihoods. As the saying goes, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.”

3. Invest in Others.

What she calls “pro-social spending” is the true key to growing happiness among your customers. Her scientific findings show that giving resources (e.g. money) away can benefit not only others, but also the consumer. Take, for example, the big smiles that ensued from the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine, known in Spanish as el cajero de la felicidad:

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“If you think money can’t buy you happiness, try giving it away,” concluded Dunn. In sum, purchases of your brand can incite happiness. Consider ways in which your company can involve giving, scarcity and/or one-of-a-kind experiences in your PR and marketing programs today.

Do you know of marketing campaigns involving any of these three happiness principles

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