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The goal of marketing and advertising is to convince us that we need something, and whether we realize it or not, we all fall for marketing tricks. So how do you prevent yourself from succumbing to some of the most common tricks that marketers use and be sure to manage your money wisely?

  1. Watch out for catch words like “Space age polymers” or “Revolutionary” or “New and improved.” These are all gimmicks to try to catch our attention but they are almost always absolutely meaningless. The space age has been around since the 1960s, so what does that really mean for advertising? Nothing at all, and revolutionary is another word for new. Finally, new and improved could mean that they changed an ingredient ever so slightly, but now that it has a new formula it is new and improved.
  2. Coupons: We think that if there is a coupon, we have to buy it. In fact, we are becoming coupon crazy, so much so that now we are buying coupons instead of getting them for free. If you never really used coupons when they were free, then the likelihood is that you will also not use them when you have to pay for them, so it might be best to just save your money and not get lured in by these good deals that often just go unused anyway.
  3. Shelf space: Many people do not know that often space in stores is purchased so that an item can be sold there. The more eye-level the product, the more likely it is to get sold at the store, so the item that is at eye level may not be the best item or the best value item, but more likely the item that has a backer that has the most money. Take time to look at the shelves for the item that might be the best value.
  4. Store brands: Many of the brands that you purchase also package the very same product for stores under the private label of the store. So, if you have a national brand that you really like, try out some store brands and compare to see what brand the store uses as a private label—it might just be your favorite product.
  5. Scare tactics: We survived as a species for multiple generations without the use of hand sanitizers. Cleaning products are often designed to convince us that we need them to keep our families safe. It is probably the most predatory of all in that commercials are designed to scare us into purchasing something that will must have in order to stay alive or keep our family alive and germ free. All you really need to clean things is water, soap, baking soda, vinegar, ammonia, and some bleach now and then.

So stay a step ahead of these tactics to put your buying decisions back in your hands.

Originally published on Manilla on Nov. 16, 2011.

Image: B Tal, via Flickr.com

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