Can you use Freudian Concepts in Online Marketing?

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Updated on: January 18th, 2023Ken Braun6 min read
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Sigmund Freud is a well-known name to many although you might be hard pressed to remember the specifics of his theories in psychology. He was a neurologist that is known for being the founder of psychoanalysis, which is probably something you might not relate to other subjects but maybe there is more to it than that? Can you use Freudian concepts in online marketing? As a top web development company we are always on the lookout for ways to improve what we are able to accomplish on the web and today we will discuss how Freud and his concepts can work in the online world.

While the, “Tell me about your mother,” shtick is not directly relatable to marketing, he has many concepts that do. As these concepts are rooted in psychology, that can be applied directly to all audiences versus just specific audiences such as males over 30 or baby boomers.

What would Sigmund Freud do?

If Sigmund Freud was alive and kicking today, how would he adapt his theories and knowledge to the online marketing world? Let’s look at how four of his core ideas can translate:

  • Connect to the unconscious mind – The unconscious mind is actually larger than the conscious mind and where professionals say most of the real work takes place. Freud felt this was the most important part of the mind and it is what helps oversee our behavior and actions. So while some marketing strategies might only focus on the conscious mind, Freud would be more inclined to utilize ones that focused primarily on the unconscious mind and secondarily on the conscious. This would be done by making use of psychological triggers such as color, tone of your branding and content, product and site design along with the overall environment of the experience.
  • Talk to their “id” – The id is with us from birth and is what forms our most basic instincts, which includes our need for pleasure. As we grow older and move past the infant and toddler stages the ego is developing which then helps us understand how to satisfy what the id wants in terms of gratification and enjoyment. For example when you are hungry you know that eating food will satisfy that need. To utilize this in marketing the goal should be for your copy and messaging to speak directly to the id by appealing to our natural drive for gratification and pleasure while avoiding pain and unpleasantness. How will this product or service give you gratification and help you avoid problems that cause pain or annoyance?
  • Get customers talking about you – Word of mouth is extremely powerful when it comes to influencing decisions in advertising. In the online world that concept means using testimonials, reviews and social media to get people engaging, sharing and recommending products or services to friend and family. Talking is a primary component of psychoanalysis and Freud, knowing this, would then look to apply it to marketing by using incentives and cues to get customers talking about how products or services helped them and improved their lives. He would look to get them to open up and go more in-depth about why and how something was a positive impact. By doing this, current and future customers have a way to interact with you and your brand along with each other.
  • Greed sells – They often say that sex sells, which Freud understood and was well known for talking about the relationship of sex in our lives. However he also strongly believed that humans are fundamentally greedy. He felt that people consistently would justify their actions and decisions, no matter how ridiculous it might look to someone else, with their own reasoning. For example, someone might say, “Well the sale was for 50% off and I had a 30% off coupon so how could I pass up that deal? I saved 80%!” Of course someone else could say, “Yes but you spent 20% on something you didn’t plan on buying or really need,” however we as humans still constantly make a post-purchase rationalization to tell ourselves why our action was acceptable. So how would Freud then relate this to marketing? He would use imagery and language that makes greed acceptable, and knowing Freud he would also mix in some sexually charged content as well because sex sells.

Psychology does play a part in our day to day lives and extends into a variety of areas and interactions of which marketing and sales is included. For years people have been utilizing concepts and behavioral ideas to help nudge customers in one direction or another, often unbeknownst to the customers’ conscious thoughts. Ultimately people are going to do what they want to do, but some of these concepts and ideas might be the difference from them taking actions with your business versus your competitor’s.

The bottom line is that you can use Freudian concepts in online marketing. At the end of the day you need to have a wide range of tools in your marketing toolbox and Freud’s concepts are valuable for certain situations. The internet is a hyper competitive playing field and it helps to have options and ideas to choose from to ensure that each campaign you launch has the best chance possible to connect with customers and generate conversions.

Be sure to check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for great new Lounge Lizard blog articles.

Published on: November 13th, 2017
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