Imagine this…

You’re watching your favorite nature documentary. David Attenborough’s legendary voice is setting the scene.

The camera pans to a wide shot of the African Savannah, and then a close-up of a herd of zebras munching on some dry grass. Adorable, right?

It was until the camera shows a pair of eyes in the brush. And another. And another…

There’s a pack of lions staring down the zebras, and it’s pretty obvious what’s going to come next. 

As the camera pans to a wide shot you see a single zebra run in the opposite direction.

You want to yell “No!!!!” Instinctively, you know this zebra should stay with the herd. 

Just as the lion is a few strides away from contact, the zebra jumps back towards the herd and the lion gives up.

This zebra is exhibiting an instinct we have—to stay with the herd. 

In the real world, you’re unlikely to encounter a pack of hungry lions. But…

Think about the last big thing you bought. Maybe it was a car, a cell phone, a new sweater, or a toy for your kid.

Did you play it safe and buy the tried and trusted thing? Or did you break away from the pack?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re exploring Herding – why our instinct tells us to stay with the herd and how that impacts us as two-legged non-striped sapiens.

Let’s get into it.

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The Psychology of Herding 🧠

Herding saved our lives when much bigger, more toothy lions were after us back in the day. But, survival is just part of herd mentality.

Seventy-five percent of participants will give the wrong answer, even when they *know* it’s wrong—just to go with the group.

Remember the 2008 stock market crash? Despite investors realizing there was a problem with mortgage-backed securities, they kept buying them. The herd said buy, they bought, the market crashed.

Herding is so amplified in our minds that it can motivate us to make overtly wrong decisions…and feel okay with it because at least we’re going with the herd.

It’s powerful stuff.

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind🧐

Your buyers want to be their independent selves—but they also want to play it safe.

Your buyers are always asking themselves: “Which brands do my friends, family, and colleagues use and talk about?”

Buyers are looking to their peers for guidance as a way of de-risking the offer.

If people like them trust your brand, they feel safer handing you their time and money.

But that doesn’t mean herding isn’t saying, “Everyone else is doing it, so you should too!”

It’s about using the herd’s buy-in to create brand trust, resonance, and social proof.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?

Create Visual Signals

If you can create the perception that “everyone is using your product”, prospects will assume it’s the best choice. If you have a storefront, you could invite all your friends and family to come in on opening week so your store looks busy. Long lines = curious people who want to know what they’re missing out on.

Digitally, you can get your customers to show they’re part of YOUR herd. For instance, Ship30for30 has their customers add boat emojis to their Twitter handles while they’re taking their course:

Embrace delegation

Add Social Proof

Social proof is a signal to your buyers that other people trust you and get results using your products or services. It helps people feel like they’re running with the herd by choosing you over the competition.

Hotjar shows that a huge part of the herd (900,000+ websites!) are using their marketing software and you should join them.

Embrace delegation

Plot Twist…be Contrarian

If you figure out what the herd is saying, and say the *opposite* you’ll stick out from the crowd. Your beliefs will help you find the people who are also contrarian and looking to go against what the rest of the herd is doing—even though they’re really just in their own contrarian herd. (No, this email was not written by Christopher Nolan.) 

Shaan Puri used a contrarian prediction of Clubhouse’s future to find his herd of people who also believed the app’s popularity would fade.

Embrace delegation

The Short of It 💥

People are innately drawn to sticking with the herd, and they’ll prove it with their wallets. 

Inject your brand and products into the herd by relating to what they’re saying, proving other people are happily using your products, and focusing on attracting the *right* herd for you.

Until next time, happy selling!



Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

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Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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