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How to Use the Self Enhancement Bias in your Marketing [2024]

Ever noticed how most people think they’re above-average drivers? 

That’s self-enhancement bias for youโ€”our built-in feature to view ourselves through rose-coloured glasses.

Now, imagine tapping into that quirk of human nature to boost your digital marketing strategy

Stick around as we unpack how to leverage this bias without turning your brand into a carnival barker. 

Let’s get your marketing to whisper sweet nothings in the ear of consumer psychology.

So, what the heck is self enhancement bias?

Self-enhancement bias is like your inner hype-person, always talking you up in your own mind. 

It’s that psychological pat on the back we give ourselves, convincing us we’re better looking, smarter, or more skilled than we might actually be. 

Think about it. 

Remember the last time you nailed a recipe on the first try? 

Chances are, you felt like a Michelin-star chef in that moment.

You see this bias strut its stuff in many day-to-day moments. 

Take job interviews, for instance. 

Ever walked out feeling like you’ve knocked it out of the park, only to find out you didn’t get the gig? 

That’s your personal cheerleader pumping you up. 

Or at a high school reunion, where everyone seems to have become ‘entrepreneurs’ and ‘influencers,’ glossing over the nitty-gritty of their lives.

So, why should anyone who’s trying to sell something care? 

Well, because understanding this bias means you can speak directly to that part of your customers that loves a good ego boost. 

People are inclined to choose products or services that make them feel like the best version of themselves. 

If you can make your customers feel like rock stars, they’re more likely to sing your praises โ€” and nothing’s sweeter than the sound of a satisfied customer humming your tune.

Seeing it in the wild 

When you see an ad with a dapper guy in a sleek suit stepping out of a high-end car, or a woman flawlessly running a business meeting, that’s self-enhancement bias in action.

power woman has her life together
Power woman has her stuff together

Advertisers are masters at painting pictures that whisper gently, “This could be you.”

Take a look at fitness ads, where chiselled abs and radiant smiles are the norms. 

They’re not just selling a workout routine; they’re selling the dream version of you, where you’re not just fit โ€” you’re the epitome of health and vitality.

Or consider tech gadgets that promise to make you the most connected, in-the-know person in the room. 

Ever notice how those gadgets are always in the hands of someone looking like they’ve got their life sorted out? 

That’s the ad saying, “Hey, with this device, you’re not just keeping up with the times; you’re leading the charge.”

These campaigns play a slick game. 

They make us feel like champs, like we’re just a purchase away from being our best selves. 

And often, that’s all the nudge we need. After all, who doesn’t want to feel like a champion?

How to use the self-enhancement in your marketing mix

Weaving self-enhancement into your marketing is like writing a love letter to your customers’ best selves. 

It’s about crafting stories that not only showcase your product but also star your customers as the heroes they want to be.

fashionable advertising for self enhancement bias
Fashionable advertising for self enhancement bias

Start by tuning into the aspirations of your audience. 

What version of themselves do they want to project? 

Whether it’s the unstoppable entrepreneur, the creative genius, or the life-of-the-party socialite, your product needs to help them inch closer to that ideal.

The language you use should be as smooth as a compliment that doesn’t sound like one. 

Use words that acknowledge their savvy and sophistication. 

It’s not about saying, “Our product will make you smart.” 

It’s about saying, “For the discerning minds, our product is the missing piece in your arsenal of efficiency.” 

You’re reflecting their inner brilliance, not questioning it.

On the visual side, consider images that reflect not just the product but the success and satisfaction of using it

Show that by choosing your brand, they’re not just making a smart choice; they’re joining the ranks of the elite, the cultured, or the trailblazers. 

You want visuals that act as a mirror for their aspirations, the ones they can look at and think, “Yeah, that’s me.”

But tread lightly โ€“ it’s a fine line between encouragement and flattery

The aim is to create a narrative where the product feels like it’s enhancing their life, not changing who they are. 

It’s about adding that cherry on top of the already fabulous cake.

You’re not selling a product; you’re offering a key to unlock their potential. 

It’s the difference between selling a smartphone and selling a portal to global connectivity, between a car and a chariot for the modern-day conqueror. 

You’re not just fitting into their life; you’re enhancing it, one subtle nod to their self-perception at a time.

List of words that make us feel invincible

Crafting phrases that boost the ego is like being the wingman to your customers’ confidence. Here’s a list that could make your product blurbs feel like a pat on the back:

  • Unlock your potential.
  • Step into excellence.
  • Crafted for the connoisseur.
  • Elevate your game.
  • Embrace your inner genius.
  • Designed for the visionary.
  • Your secret weapon.
  • Unleash your creativity.
  • Tap into brilliance.
  • For the trailblazers.
  • Discover your edge.
  • Redefine the possible.
  • Command excellence.
  • Tailored to your distinction.
  • Rise above the ordinary.
  • Champion your day.
  • Pioneer your path.
  • Master your universe.
  • Ignite your passion.
  • Harness your power.
  • Craft your success.
  • Navigate your destiny.
  • Thrive in every challenge.
  • Exceed boundaries.
  • Embark on excellence.
  • Lead with confidence.
  • Amplify your prowess.
  • Breakthrough to brilliance.
  • Cultivate your charisma.
  • Fortify your ambition.
  • Propel your presence.
  • Define your journey.
  • Envision perfection.
  • Manifest your dreams.
  • Carve your niche.

When integrating these into product descriptions, remember it’s not about overselling; it’s about aligning your product with the aspirational self-image of your customer. 

Each phrase should be a stepping stone, leading them to visualise success and fulfilment with your offering at their side.

Instead of “This camera takes great photos,” you could say, “Capture masterpieces with every click.” 

It’s not just a camera โ€” it’s an extension of their artistic flair. 

Remember, empower your customers, and they’ll be more inclined to empower your brand with their loyalty.

Images that whisper sweet nothings of greatness

Choosing images for your marketing is like setting up a mirror that reflects the superhero version of your customers. 

Here are some tips to ensure your visuals are quietly singing praises to their greatness:

  • Pick imagery that showcases everyday people achieving aspirational moments, like crossing a finish line or nailing a presentation. You want your audience to think, โ€œI see myself there.โ€
  • Ensure your visuals ooze the kind of quality your audience aspires to โ€“ whether it’s luxury, innovation, or sheer joy. The connection needs to be immediate: your product equals a better version of their reality.
  • Consistency is key in visual storytelling. Your images should form a coherent narrative across platforms, reinforcing the same message of empowerment. Inconsistency is like a scratch on a new vinyl record โ€“ it disrupts the melody of your customer’s self-perception.

With every picture, you’re not just selling a product; you’re selling a potential reality. 

Make sure itโ€™s one where your customer is the protagonist of a tale of success and happiness.

Dos and donโ€™ts with self-enhancement bias in ads

A deep dive into the archives of advertising history can reveal some shining examples of self-enhancement done right, as well as a few cautionary tales that missed the mark.

Let’s start with a hit. Remember Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign?

nike just do it campaign
Nike just do it campaign

Those three words became a mantra for countless individuals pushing their limits. 

The ads typically featured athletes, both renowned and unknown, grinding towards greatness. 

This wasn’t just about sneakers; it was an invitation to join the pantheon of perseverance. 

Nike nailed it by making everyone feel like an athlete in their own right.

On the flip side, there was a luxury car commercial that showed a suave, tuxedo-clad individual at a high-profile gala. 

But the ad felt distant, the scenario too niche โ€“ it failed to resonate with the average viewer who couldn’t picture themselves in that world. 

The ad inflated the ego, but for a very slim audience, leaving the rest of the viewers out in the cold.

The lesson here? Inclusivity in self-enhancement is crucial. 

Your campaign should be a broad church, welcoming anyone to see their best selves in your narrative. 

Nike’s broad appeal touched on a universal desire for improvement and achievement, leaving the door wide open for anyone to stride through.

When self-enhancement is approached with a heavy hand or too narrow a focus, it alienates more than it elevates. 

The key is to strike a balance between aspiration and accessibility, making sure your message uplifts without drifting into the stratosphere of unattainability.

How to inject self-enhancement bias into your landing pages

Injecting self-enhancement bias into your landing pages is all about the fine art of flattery without being obvious. Here’s how:

  • Use second-person pronouns (“you,” “your”) to directly engage and place the reader in the narrative. “Empower your decisions with data-driven insights.”
  • Start with a bold statement or question that resonates with the ideal self-image of your audience. “Ready to revolutionise your workspace?”
  • Present your product as the key that unlocks their potential. “Amplify your creativity with tools designed for the modern artist.”
  • Incorporate testimonials that reinforce the self-enhancement narrative. “Since using [product], I’ve taken my performance to new heights.”

Winning examples are those that strike an emotional chord. 

Apple’s landing pages often hit the mark by showcasing their products as enablers of creativity and innovation, hinting that you’re just an Apple product away from joining the ranks of visionary thinkers. 

Another example is language-learning apps (like Duolingo) that sell not just the ability to learn a new language, but the promise of becoming a worldly, cultured individual.

duolingo using the self enhancement bias
Seriously, DuoLingo are legends at using the self enhancement bias

They’re not just offering lessons; they’re offering a passport to a more sophisticated version of you.

Finally upgrade your marketing by elevating others in your marketing

So, we’ve been through the wringer together, exploring the self-enhancement bias in marketing. 

Remember, it’s all about making your customers feel like the champions they dream to be โ€“ using language that’s their personal cheerleader and visuals that mirror their aspirational alter egos.

From the gym buffs flexing their success to the tech wizards casting spells with gadgets, your marketing has the power to validate and celebrate the inner hero in everyone. 

It’s a subtle nudge, not a shove; a wink, not a shout.

Now, it’s your move. 

How will you spin the yarn of self-enhancement into your brand’s story? 

Will your next campaign be the secret handshake that says, “I see you, and I’m here to make you shine”?

Before you dash off to brainstorm, chew on this: 

How will you ensure your brand’s message elevates without overwhelming, connecting without excluding? 

Because, let’s face it, we all want our reflection in the marketing mirror to be just a little bit heroic, don’t we?

Josiah is a multi-award-winning digital marketing consultant and former journalist for the Australia Times. He now helps 6-7-figure brands as a Fractional CMO to generate predictable leads and sales growth.โ€‹

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