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How to Create an Irresistible Offer Using Psychological Triggers

  • Sacha DoucetSacha Doucet

Updated by Willy Wood

Want to create an offer that your customers can’t refuse? No, we’re not talking Godfather-type scare tactics. We’re talking about good old-fashioned human psychology.

All good marketers know that there are certain proven psychological triggers and tactics that cause humans to react positively to an offer and reach for their credit cards to buy your product. For example, it has been shown that simply presenting information in strategic ways can massively increase profits.

If you really know your customers and can anticipate their needs before they even visit your site, you can truly connect with them and make your offer irresistible by tapping into these psychological triggers.

In this post, we’ll share 10 tips and tricks you can start using right away to create your irresistible offer. 

First, we’ll look at 5 key elements of irresistible offers that rely on powerful psychological triggers. Then, we’ll follow up with 5 more specific tactics you can use to take your offer over the top and make it truly irresistible.

Ready? Let’s get started!

How to Create an Irresistible Offer: 5 Key Elements

Let’s start with 5 “big chunks” that need to go into any offer. We’ll talk about why each element is important and how it taps into innate human psychology for its effectiveness. 

Leaving out even one of these key elements could easily cause your offer to fall flat, so you might want to consider this section your go-to “checklist” whenever you’re constructing your offers.

Key #1: The Transformation

This is the before and after evolution your customer will go through as they use your product or service. This first element is really the core of your entire offer, as everything depends on delivering the transformation your audience is looking for.

This transformation could either be:

  • Giving people something they want but don’t have (delivering pleasure) or 
  • Taking away something they have but don’t want (eliminating pain). 

So, your first step is to identify what transformation you plan on delivering through your product or service.

Once you know the transformation you’re trying to deliver, focus on identifying the key benefits your product or service will deliver to your customers. While it’s important to share your product or service’s features (key components), it’s much more powerful to vividly describe the benefits they will see in their lives as a result of using your product or service. 

Benefits are emotional and, when achieved, add up to the overall transformation the customer is looking for.

Key #2: The Motivation

The motivation is the deep, driving force that causes your prospects to want your offer. 

Many marketers say there are three core human drivers:

  • Money/wealth,
  • Love/relationships/sex, and
  • Health/wellness/survival.

And any good product or service will definitely provide help in one of those areas.

But people are more complicated than these three core drivers indicate. Good marketers go deeper and try to determine who their prospects are and who they want to be. To get to this deeper level, marketers should focus on issues of identity, self-image, and values:

  • Identity: This is personal. It’s about who our prospects are and the roles they play in their lives.
  • Self-Image: This is both personal and public. It’s about how our prospects see themselves and how they would like to be seen by others.
  • Values: This is about how your prospects think things should be and how things should be done.

A great offer taps into one or more of these deep motivations.

For example, let’s say you sell a diet and meal plans product. Such a product can be sold by appealing to the core driver of health and wellness (and perhaps secondarily, love and relationships). But at a deeper level, you can also tap into your prospects’ self-image desires. 

If they want to feel more attractive to themselves when they look in the mirror and to their significant others, you would want to speak to that desire and explain how your product can help them achieve that transformation.

Do this well, and your prospects may well be motivated to give your product a shot.

Key #3: The Mechanism

If you do a good job of conveying the transformation you’re promising and tapping into your prospects’ deep motivational drives, you’re well on your way to convincing them to try your offer.

But there’s a problem. If you’re in a market where there’s a lot of competition, there will be other products and services out there that promise the same or similar transformation and tap into similar motivations. So, how do you distinguish yourself from the crowd?

That’s where something called “the unique mechanism” comes into play. Your unique mechanism is something you offer your prospects that no one else in the market is offering. This unique element might be a proprietary ingredient or unusual mix of ingredients. Or it might be a different method of delivery of your product or service.

There are two key steps for incorporating a unique mechanism into your offer:

  1. First, identify your unique mechanism. This will require some detailed market research to make sure you know what your competitors are offering and identifying a gap you can fill.
  2. Then, name your unique mechanism in a way that sets it apart from other products or services in your niche. For products, it might be a unique “blend” or “formula” or “regimen.” For services, it might be a unique “process,” or “methodology,” or “framework.” 

Having a unique mechanism gives you a way to distinguish your offer from the crowd. Even more importantly, it taps into the important psychological trigger called “contrast.”

The truth is, your prospects have likely tried more than one solution to their problem – solutions that didn’t work, obviously, or they wouldn’t still be looking. By including a unique mechanism in your offer, you’re basically saying, “I know that you’ve tried other solutions, but those solutions didn’t have our patented proprietary blend.” 

And since you’re setting yourself up as different from the other things your customers have tried in the past, they’re more likely to think, “OK, maybe this is the one.”

Key #4: The Proof

People today are barraged by sales pitches and advertising all day long. As a result, they’re more skeptical than ever about marketing claims.

But don’t worry, there are powerful, proven ways to dent that skepticism, and they all fall under the umbrella of “proof.” Here are four powerful ways to use proof to convince skeptical prospects that your offer is worth trying:

  • A Highly-Believable Source: If you are a highly-credible source of information in your industry, your name and accomplishments alone can be a powerful factor in getting prospects to give your products or services the benefit of the doubt. And you don’t have to be a celebrity or “influencer,” you just need to explain why you should be considered an expert in your field.
  • Social Proof: This psychological trigger is extremely powerful. While a prospect may agree that your credentials are impressive, they still may not be convinced to buy because they feel that you have a vested interest in selling your product or service (which, of course, is true). However, if other people have tried your product or service and have gotten the kind of transformational results the prospect is looking for, that can be very convincing. We tend to trust the crowd. This is why positive reviews and testimonials work so well.
  • Objective Proof: Depending on your product or service, facts, statistics, and research studies can be powerful proof elements. Some prospects trust data more than they trust the opinions of others. So if you can show that you have helped X number of people to achieve the results your prospect is looking for, or if you can show that your proprietary combination of ingredients has been proven effective in a laboratory study, that will usually carry a lot of weight.
  • A Strong Guarantee: One final proof element that can often nudge a prospect who’s teetering on the edge of buying right over the edge is a powerful guarantee. If you can offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee or a full money-back guarantee, the prospect is likely to think, “Hey, what do I have to lose?”

Including a mixture of these proof elements makes your prospects much more certain that you can be trusted to deliver on your promises, and nothing sells like trust.

Key #5: The Campaign

The final element of an irresistible offer is the campaign itself. 

Marketers have been creating offers and testing these offers in the dog-eat-dog competitive arena of the marketplace for many years now, and certain elements have been proven to work over and over. This is because there’s a certain way to construct a campaign that takes people from a place of inertia and skepticism to a state where they’re ready to take action and make a purchase.

There’s a bit of art and a bit of science to structuring a winning campaign, but here’s a winning sequence of components to include:

  • Meet Them Where They Are: The first step is to meet your prospects where they are psychologically. If you try to start explaining your solution too early, it will fall on deaf ears. People first want to know if you understand them and their situation. As stated earlier, there are two categories of wants: (1) wanting something you don’t have (a desire) or (2) wanting to get rid of something you have (a pain). Identify which of these situations is most present in your prospect and speak to it.
  • Articulate Their World View: Now that you’ve shown you understand their desire or pain, it’s time to show that you understand why they haven’t already achieved their desire or gotten rid of their pain. This is about identifying the limiting beliefs your prospect has that are holding them back. It may also include telling them that it’s not their fault that they’re in the situation they’re in and identifying the forces that have conspired against them. This is the most difficult part of the offer to write, as you know that usually their limiting beliefs and scapegoats are often self-created and can be overcome.
  • Share the Deeper Insight: Now that you’ve shown that you understand their situation deeply, it’s time to open their eyes to a possible way out of that situation. In this section, you explain that their problem is indeed solvable. This is where you start to introduce your unique mechanism, though you want to do so in a generic way at this point. The goal is to introduce the generic solution (a “proprietary mixture of ingredients,” for example, or a “unique process”) to the problem.
  • Explain the Solution: This is where you introduce your specific solution–your product or service–and explain how it’s built on the generic solution/unique mechanism. Here you go over your product’s features and the benefits of using it, introduce the price and show the value, share any bonuses, and introduce your strong guarantee.
  • Propose the Next Action: Finally, you close with a strong call to action. Tell the prospect exactly what they should do next in order to take advantage of your amazing offer.

As stated above, this structure has been tested and proven effective over many years of sales pitches in every conceivable market. It is designed to connect on a personal level with the prospect, build a bond of trust and understanding, and lead them by the hand to your unique solution to their problem. Do this well, and it’s almost guaranteed to work!

5 Psychological Tactics for Creating an Irresistible Offer

Now that we’ve talked about what key components to include in your offer and how to structure it for maximum impact, let’s take a look at some finer nuances that you can add into those basics. Think of these tactics as a little extra “spice” to boost the flavor of your offer. You should be able to use one or more of these in pretty much any offer.

1. Sell Time Savings Instead of Money Savings

You’ve probably heard how pricing plays a huge role in your bottom line. The psychology of a price ending in “7,” for example, means it’s a great value, and prices ending in ‘”9″ sell more because we tend to round down.

While sales can increase from pricing strategies for certain products (like luxury goods), pricing psychology doesn’t always resonate with customers.

In that case, what sells is time.

We all want more of it, to make the most of it, or to minimize wasting it. When you market a product as an experience, a customer will be far more likely to spend some extra cash.

One study done by Cassie Mogilner and Jennifer Aaker details how emphasizing emotions, identity, and experiences has a positive correlation with sales by establishing a connection with people. In one experiment, Mogilner and Aakar divided 115 students into three groups and asked them about their iPods.

  • Group 1 was asked, “How much time have you spent on your iPod?”
  • Group 2 was asked, “How much money have you spent on your iPod?”
  • The third group was not asked either question.

Next, all three groups were asked, “When considering your iPod, what thoughts come to mind?”

The end result showed a far more favorable attitude towards iPods when initially asked about time spent over those who were asked about money spent. The control group showed a less favorable attitude towards iPods than the “time” group but still more favorable than the “money” group.

If selling on price isn’t getting you the sales you want, try selling time saved instead.

So if selling on price isn’t getting you the sales you want, try selling time saved instead. When you want to foster a personal connection with your product or service, leading consumers to think about time can greatly boost positive perception.

Conversely, emphasizing the dollar value can not only leave individuals feeling less connected, but could potentially frame the product in a negative light.

What This Means for You

Think of the benefit your product provides the customer:

  • What kind of experience, solution, or emotion are you offering?
  • What differentiates your experience, solution, or emotion from what your competitor is offering?

2. Make People Feel Like They’re Part of a Group

The need for social connection is universal. Forming bonds with others influences our concept of self and being part of a community is a powerful tool in feeling connected. We will even override our physiological needs (like food) and safety to feel connected. We all want to feel close to others and have our own tribe who understands us.

According to Jason O`Shaughnessy in his book, Competitive Marketing (RLE Marketing): A Strategic Approach, how we connect and relate to others and the world around us affects our buying decisions. There are two primary ways we feel that we’re part of a group:

1. Culture

Culture in its simplest definition is a shared, common experience that influences how you spend your time and money. It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t always marked by age, location, or ethnicity.

Culture is a choice where we can choose to opt in. For example, fashion isn’t restricted to certain demographics. TOMS shoes is modeled after the traditional alpargatas shoe made for Argentinian farmers, yet this Argentinian shoe is now worn by millions of urban North Americans.

2. Reference Groups

We all act in accordance with the groups we commonly interact with like our family, friends, and work associates. O’Shaughnessy details how we also have two types of reference groups:

Normative groups are how we establish norms and behavior. This includes things like how we dress and the verbiage we use.

Comparative groups make us feel like we’re either part of or not part of something. We use comparative groups to evaluate our personal qualities and buying decisions.

Apple famously utilized this concept during their 1984 campaign, where they compared using IBM products to being conformist and controlled. Apple continues this narrative to this day with their “Think Different” campaign.

What This Means for You

  • Think outside the box of typical cultural markers. How does your business fit in with a certain culture? Is there a subsection of culture that your product serves?
  • What normative reference group is your target customer a part of? How do they dress and what sort of language or slang do they use?
  • Is your product or service part of a comparative group? If so, how do you make your customer feel better by being part of your ‘tribe and not your competitor’s?

3. Utilize the “Foot-in-the-Door” Technique

irresistible offer 4

The foot-in-the-door technique is a well-known compliance technique that shows we love to comply with larger requests once we’ve agreed to a smaller request first. In marketing terms, if you ask for a favor and get a “yes” from the customer, you open the door for a bigger (and more expensive) “yes.”

The technique was first popularized in 1966 by researchers Freedman and Fraser in their study “Compliance Without Pressure.”

In the study, they divided 156 women into four groups: three test groups, and one control group. The researchers phoned the three test groups asking what kind of cleaning products they use. Three days later, they called all four groups and asked to enter their homes to see the cleaning products.

In the first three groups, 52.8% of participants allowed the researchers into their homes. A mere 22.2% of participants from the control group agreed to the request.

More recent studies have replicated Freedman and Fraser’s study to show we are more likely to go for drinks with someone if they ask us for directions or a cigarette first. We’re even twice as likely to stop a theft in action if the victim asked us for the time prior to the crime.

Be mindful not to offer the second, larger request too soon, though. One study done by Chartrand, Pinkckert, and Burger shows the technique can backfire if the second request is made without a delay. An example of this is offering a free ebook and then following up with an expensive course the next day.

What This Means for You

Offer something small that your customer will find valuable, such as a free (or inexpensive) ebook, free samples, or a trial membership. The customer will feel like you’ve already given them something of value so they’re more likely to reciprocate in the future with larger requests.

4. Master the Decoy Technique

Decoy marketing, or the “asymmetric dominance effect,” is when you highlight the offer you’d like the customer to purchase by offering other options look inferior in comparison.

The decoy technique works because consumer decisions are swayed by compromise on the options available. Consumers feel they’re getting the best deal when they have to rationalize against comparable options. This technique is employed almost everywhere you look, from food to electronics.

One example is the New York Times:

New York Times Digital Access Options

Here you can see the emphasis to select the middle option. It offers the “best value” because for a very reasonable $2.50 you not only get the digital access from option 1, but also exclusive behind-the-scenes stories and a bonus subscription (a $25 value) for free.

Option 3 offers more than option 2 with two bonus subscriptions and home delivery. However, unless someone is looking for home delivery they’ll feel the third option is excessive and will go for option 2. If only the cheapest and most expensive options are presented, most consumers will choose the cheapest.

What This Means for You

  • Consider bundling your products or services to make your offer seem more appealing than a la carte offers.
  • If someone goes for the most expensive decoy option, think of how you will provide added value.

5. Intentionally Generate Positive Emotions

Offering the same product or service in a positive light is a powerful tool. In one study done by De Martina et. al. (2009), it was found that you are more confident in your buying decisions if you don’t perceive any drawbacks.

Likewise, if you have to think too hard about how something could benefit you, there’s much more cognitive dissonance when making a decision to buy or not.  Essentially, the path of least resistance makes us happy.

A basic example would be giving two people $50. Participant 1 gets $20, but you give them an extra $30 for a total of $50. Participant 2 starts with $70 but you take $20 away.

Guess which participant would be happier?

When there is certainty that we have something to gain, the decision is made for us. We won’t gamble with the outcome. We see this tactic employed everywhere from the “buy 1, get 1 free” promos in supermarkets or 50%-off sales in clothing stores.

Likewise, if a proposition is framed in a negative light, we will risk certainty to gamble and hope for better odds. An example you may have seen is when an insurance company tries to get you to switch to their plan by framing it as wasting dollars with the other company.

What This Means for You

We like to feel good about our decisions rather than be coerced by why it’s bad to not buy it.

  • Frame your product or service as something that will provide a positive effect in terms of emotion experienced?
  • Present your offer as a no-brainer option that will positively influence your customer.

Ready to Create an Irresistible Offer for Your Customers?

As you can see, tapping into your customers’ psychology is crucial for creating your irresistible offer.

To recap, here are the five key elements to include in any offer:

  1. Vividly describe the transformation you’re promising to help your prospect achieve.
  2. Tap into the deep motivations that are driving your prospects to seek a solution to their problem.
  3. Frame your offer as one of a kind by creating a unique mechanism that sets it apart from your competitors.
  4. Offer several types of proof that your product or service will provide the transformation you promise in your marketing materials.
  5. Create a campaign for your offer that starts where your prospects are and brings them along step by step until they realize that your offer is exactly what they’ve been looking for.

And here are some more nuanced tactics you can use to sweeten your offer:

  1. Emphasize how valuable your product or service is in terms of time, not just money.
  2. Identify the culture and any other groups your product or service resonates with.
  3. Offer something of value that is either free or cheap. Your customers will appreciate it and reciprocate.
  4. Emphasize the product or service option you would like customers to purchase by offering similar but less desirable options next to it.
  5. Frame your offer in a positive light. We are more likely to be swayed by a positive presentation of information.

Now take a moment to consider which of these tips will work best with your product or service. After you zero in on the approach that’s right for you, then you can get to work incorporating them into your marketing strategy.

Do this, and you’ll be well on your way to creating an offer that your customers can’t refuse.

6 thoughts on How to Create an Irresistible Offer Using Psychological Triggers

Ettie Rutherford

Your information is relevant, easily understood and very practical to adapt.
Will certainly be of great benefit to me . Thanks a million


Thank you for your kind words Ettie! I’m glad you find the information beneficial.

Andrew Zubriczky

Great well written article on an extremely timely subject…a businesses online financial future! As a veteran marketer l am quite familiar with subliminal emotional and psychological triggers to increase conversions and compliance. Yet, if your copy appears honest, believable, and trustworthy, your online visitors will trust you. Consumers are getting wise to most of these. For example, in the offline world, what does the word SALE mean anymore?


Thanks for your kind words Andrew! And I totally agree, SALE doesn`t mean a whole lot anymore 🙂

Amar kumar

Hey Sacha,

Technology has created a more educated and independent class of consumer that no longer allows marketing messages to be forced onto them. This change has caused marketing departments to be more honest, less manipulative, and provide more value.

Psychological pricing uses the customer’s emotional response to encourage sales. By pricing products strategically, a company may increase sales without significantly reducing prices. Eventually, thanks for sharing these beneficial facts regarding this subject.

With best wishes,

Amar kumar


Hi Amar,

I agree that consumers are much more educated, and forcing messages on to consumers is a thing of the past. These psychological tactics, however, are part of the innate human condition and don’t necessarily have to be used in a forceful way 🙂

Thanks for your response.

Comments are closed.