How to Use 6 Cognitive Biases to Maximize your Firm’s Place in the Market

Banner on using cognitive biases to boost law firm market presence, featuring a brain graphic and consultwebs logo.

You will find this hard to believe, but it’s the truth: you can actually influence someone else’s decision through psychology.

Sounds like a script plucked straight from an episode of Suits, right?

Believe it or not, that is what marketing psychology is all about—and understanding your audience’s cognitive biases is crucial in maximizing your law firm’s influence in the market.

What Are Cognitive Biases?

The human brain is incredibly powerful. It can crunch hard numbers, recall dated information, and store up to 2,500,000 gigabytes of raw data (for your information, the best iPhone 12 has 512 GB)!

But despite all its awesomeness, the brain does have flaws and limitations that prevent it from being 100% rational. In their 1970s’ ground-breaking research, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky referred to these glitches as cognitive biases.

Think of them as systematic errors in thinking that impact the sort of decisions and judgments humans make.

Cognitive biases happen when our brains work against us because of the shortcuts they’ve created. While these shortcuts are meant to help us understand our environments better, they often backfire. They lead us to behave or act irrationally.

The worst bit is, most (read: almost all) attorney partners are largely unaware of these cognitive biases and their use in marketing.

However, the few who are aware of them hold immense power over their prospects and clients’ decisions. And it starts with understanding these tricky thought processes.

Here are a few examples of some of the more common cognitive biases:

  • Bandwagon Effect- Humans tend to prioritize ideas, information, or products that are popular with the majority.
  • Sunk-Cost Bias- As soon as we invest money, energy, or time into something, we persevere with it because we hate to lose our investment, even if we might never get it back.
  • Confirmation Bias- We tend to search for or overvalue information that supports our existing beliefs or expectations over new ones.
  • Ambiguity Effect- People tend to avoid choices or decisions that bear a doubtful outcome.
  • Parkinson’s Law Of Triviality- This law states that individuals tend to choose instant gratification over something with a greater value later on time.
  • Anchoring Bias- We have an ingrained tendency to depend too much on the first bit of information we find when making decisions.

How Are Cognitive Biases Important In the World Of Sales & Marketing?

Handshake closeup bw

There’s no doubt that the online space is awash with limitless information and endless choices.

So, how exactly do customers arrive at a purchasing decision? That’s right- they employ some of the aforementioned cognitive biases.

As a recent Google research found out, buyers manage to navigate and alter the “messy middle” using various cognitive shortcuts.

Just in case you were wondering, “messy middle” is the complicated space between triggers and purchase where clients are either won or lost.

All things considered, here’s what you can learn from the study:

  • Customers think highly of brands. They’re likely to remain loyal to their favorite brand even if rival brands offer them a superior product or service.
  • But that doesn’t necessarily mean that little-known brands can’t disrupt the “messy middle.” Every firm has a fair chance of success in the online market as long as they target the right cognitive biases.
  • Presence might be just what you need to sway buyers’ decisions. Just show up.
    Read more about this eye-opening research here.

The key takeaway? With a few well-timed, accurate, and powerful cognitive cues, your law firm can indeed win buyer preference.

How Can I Use Cognitive Biases To My Advantage When Preparing My Marketing Strategy?

Team collaboration table

1. Cognitive Bias Type #1: Anchoring

As far as the anchoring bias goes, first impressions are really vital.

The very first thing you say to prospects, no matter the mode of communication, matters a lot. It acts as the “anchor,” you know, the thing that lures them to sign with your firm and no other.

That’s why it’s important to plan how you are going to introduce yourself and your products. Please make sure the first piece of information they receive paints your firm in the best possible light.

How exactly do you set a positive aura with your target audience? Easy—roll out your product in stages. If you’re giving out discounts, quote the full price first, then follow it up with the discounted value.

You can also play to the anchoring bias by pitting your price against a rival’s price that’s much higher. When prospective clients see the second price (which is now your price), they’re likely to view it positively as they still have the competitor’s quote in mind.

Vouch for your firm and products even more by sharing testimonials, reviews, or anything else that depicts how clients have saved more than they have spent on your offerings.

2. Cognitive Bias Type #2: Confirmation

The gist surrounding confirmation bias is that prospects already have ideas or beliefs in their head—and these are almost impossible to change.

This simply means that if you have a strong brand image, all you have to do is “confirm” this with them when you get in touch or when they first arrive on your landing page.

Make sure your mission, tag line, content, or anything on your website “reassures” prospects that you’re indeed what they think you are.

3. Cognitive Bias Type #3: Parkinson’s Law Of Triviality

You can use this bias to your advantage by speaking in a language that suggests urgency. Make your prospects think that there’s greater value in acquiring your products now than later.

  • “Download our Ebook to solve your divorce issues instantly.”
  • “Schedule an online consultation session now and get a 50% discount on attorney fees.”

Another way Parkinson’s Law can be used by savvy marketing directors like you is by delaying the payment process.

When prospects realize that they can purchase now and pay at a later date, the cost of the item becomes less important.

They don’t think about spending money, and if they do, they rationalize the product costs per hour or per day until they have to pay. This way, you’ll actually be able to raise your rates.

4. Cognitive Bias Type #4: Bandwagon Effect

Like we mentioned, the human brain craves to be part of a group. To feel socially important.

Make the most of this bias by giving your products some kind of social proof. Tell your prospects that they stand to gain with your firm, just like your current customers or those you’ve worked together with in the past.

  • “The new Ebook is what everyone is talking about.”
  • “Over 1,000 people rely on our firm for legal advice every month.”

“Want a successful merger? Join 50 companies that signed up with us last month for customized acquisition services!”

You can also play to this bias by sharing testimonials, badges, awards, or reviews that portray your brand as a “fan favorite.”

5. Cognitive Bias Type #5: Ambiguity

Although unknowingly, prospects tend to favor a choice with a known outcome rather than a chance on an option with doubtful possibilities.

Counter this flaw in human behavior by incorporating a “FAQS Section” on your landing page. Make sure that you clarify any lingering uncertainties regarding your product or service.

If prospects insist on calling you, don’t overload them with unnecessary information. Focus on what you’re offering. Avoid using legalese or any technical jargon. Else prospects will hand your firm a thumbs down.

6. Cognitive Bias Type #6: Sunk-Cost Bias

Maximize this bias by continually reminding customers of their ongoing relationship with your law firm. This particularly works wonders with loyalty programs. For instance, using phrases such as “an esteemed client since 2005” can go a long way in cementing the relationship between you and your clientele.

Another way to play to this fallacy is to suggest to prospects that there’s only minimal effort required to complete a call, purchase, or any other monetary investment.

  • “Finalize your online consultation session with just one more click.”
  • “Finish your Ebook purchase with just two more clicks.”

Keep in mind that sunk cost bias is hard-hitting, and your clients will jump at the first chance to turn things around. Use that to your advantage. Make sure your product experience never falls short of expectations, or if it does, you’re quick to make amends.

Wrapping Up

Now that you’re familiar with the six key cognitive biases, you can go back and answer the main question: How do you use these mental shortcuts to influence prospects, retain clients, and grow your reach?

The more you are aware of the brain’s flaws and glitches, the more of a marketing expert you’ll be.

Just keep these three takeaways in mind:

  • Invest in your brand presence so that your product/service is strategically top of mind when your prospects continue to scour the online market space.
  • Invest in the quality and messaging of your law firm. Then push out your brand to the community as vigorously as possible. Remember, we’re all competing for the same piece of the pie.
  • Those who sustain market share are those who have honed their ability to minimize friction and ultimately drive more business.

Need more nuggets on running an effective legal marketing department, outwitting competitors, and attaining tangible results? Visit our blog today.