November 7, 2018

Regulatory Focus Theory: How to make your marketing connect with your customers’ deepest motivations

Regulatory focus theory posits that there are two main motivations in human nature: gaining pleasure and avoiding pain. Knowing which one motivates your customers more can lead to better profits and more conversions from your marketing efforts.

All marketing efforts come down to one thing: connecting with customers in ways that make them buy. Businesses scramble to that find elusive spark that leads to a sale. Regulatory focus theory can help you reach your customers more effectively by making them feel deeply “right” about their decision to take you up on your offer.

What is Regulatory Focus Theory?

In general, humans tend to approach pleasure and avoid pain. According to regulatory focus theory, human motivation is divided into two camps – need for advancement (promotion) and need for security (prevention).

A person’s regulatory focus reflects which one is a greater motivator in their lives: the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain.

What’s the difference between prevention-bias and promotion bias?

Here’s a short-and-sweet explanation of the difference between the prevention bias and promotion bias:

Prevention-biased – Prevention-biased people are more motivated by preventing a negative outcome. This focus aims for security, safety, following rules and guidelines, and preventing losses. A person who is focused on avoiding the pain of failure is prevention focused. They’d rather “not lose” than of “win.”

Promotion-biased – Promotion-biased people are more motivated by attaining higher gains. This focus is more concerned with accomplishment. Someone who is motivated by the pleasure of accomplishment is promotion-biased. They’d rather “win” than “not lose.”

Why regulatory fit matters in your marketing

When a person believes that their actions (to take you up on your offer, in this case) fit their regulatory focus, they become more intimately engaged with the action and have an overall “good feeling” about it. Having a good regulatory fit intensifies the customer’s response to your marketing and increases their commitment to the offer.

Not having a good regulatory fit will repulse the customer. They are likely to feel that the offer is not only a bad deal, but they’ll see it as a threat to their own values. All of this is happening on a subconscious level, so don’t worry about a bad CTA leading to a picket line outside your office. But nonetheless, you don’t want all these negative emotions associated with your marketing efforts.

In a nutshell: Feelings of “rightness” from a good regulatory fit will create a stronger relationship with the prospect. A feeling of “wrongness” from a bad regulatory fit will alienate the customer.

How to connect with prevention-biased customers

Prevention-biased customers are the worriers of the world. They are aimed at protecting themselves and their assets. They like control, security, vigilance, and the safety of following established guidelines. When they think of the ultimate outcome they want, they imagine the relief of not losing.

Some CTA phrases that might work better for prevention-biased customers include:

  • “Save 50%”
  • “Protect Your Retirement with this Free Guide”
  • “Prevent Skin Cancer with our Tan Lotion – Free Sample!”

How to connect with promotion-biased customers

Promotion-biased customers are go-getters. They’re more interested in maximizing their returns and aren’t afraid to take risks to get better rewards. When they think of the ultimate outcome of their actions, they imagine the pleasure of winning.

Some CTA phrases that might work better for promotion-biased customers include:

  • “Get 50% Off”
  • “Maximize Your Retirement with This Free Guide
  • “Get a Great Tan with our SPF Tan Lotion – Free Sample!”

But if you’re selling luxury items, regulatory focus theory doesn’t apply

When it comes to hedonistic purchases – luxury items no one really “needs” – regulatory focus theory doesn’t apply. Because people buy luxury purchases simply to feel good, they’re more likely to respond to promotion-bias verbiage such as “Get $1 Off.” There is no prevention bias when it comes to luxury items.

Are your CTAs reaching your customers in the right way?

GetUWired can help you craft the perfect message to reach your customers. To get started, give us a call at 877-236-9094 or visit us online today at www.GetUWired.com.


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