My inner loss aversion monkey is screeching and rattling the bars of his cage right now.
The little guy is a furry ball of poo-flinging rage, all because of my trip to the UPS Store yesterday.
What’s a “loss aversion monkey”?
It comes from a study that some scientists did a few years back.
They started by giving a monkey an apple and observing his reaction—he usually got pretty excited. Monkeys don’t usually have a lot to look forward to on a given day.
Then they threw him a curveball:
They’d give him 2 apples to start out—and then they’d take one away.
The end result was the same: the little simian still had one apple.
His reaction, though, was completely different. Pure fury. How could the world be so cruel?
This is me right now.
I had this portable lighting kit that I used to use when I did freelance photography. I paid $250 for it on Amazon.
Since I got into copywriting I’m not doing photography anymore, so the kit was just collecting dust. I listed it on Amazon for $189 plus shipping.
Over the weekend it sold, and I was excited. $200 for something I’m not using anymore? Sign me up!
Only problem was, I didn’t have a box big enough to fit the kit. So I decided to try out the UPS Store’s “done for you” packing service.
I knew it was going to be expensive. I was mentally braced to pay $60 for packing and shipping.
But when the clerk said, “That’ll be $91.24,” my jaw clenched and my stomach knotted.
Seriously? I paid the bill and stalked out of the store feeling sick to my stomach.
Now this emotional response doesn’t make a lot of sense.
After all, I still have almost $110 that I didn’t have a couple of days ago, plus a bunch of free space in my closet.
It would have taken me at least an hour or two of my valuable time to chase down a box and extra packing material and pack the stupid thing myself.
But that didn’t matter to Mr. Monkey.
All he knew is that he had two Benjamins in his greedy paws, and that hipster clerk ripped one of them away, and now he was MAD.
This instinct is powerful—people (and monkeys!) are often more motivated by fear of perceived loss than hope of future gain.
The most effective marketing campaigns make use of this somehow.
“The government could force me to take this page down at any moment.”
If you have a good product that just isn’t selling, ask yourself:
How can I trigger my customer’s loss aversion monkey?