7 Reasons Why People Buy: The Emotional Triggers that Drive Sales

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Why do people buy things?  Or choose one product over another?  Is it logic? Or is it emotional triggers marketing?

Denny Hatch said (in Target Marketing 4/10/10) that the best way to get people to buy something is to offer exclusivity (an emotional trigger).

It’s true that if you offer something that can’t be duplicated, because it’s so personal, or remarkable, then you don’t have to worry as much about price, service, or competition.

Someone can always undercut you on price or beat you on quality.  Service is a bit harder to copy.  Not every company is willing to go as far as Zappo’s or Lands’ End in making sure the customer is happy.

However, he missed quite a few other emotional reasons that people buy.  Here are seven more.

1) Safety and peace of mind

If price were the primary issue when buying a car, then the cheapest car would do.  Car buyers want more than just price.  They want safety and reliability.

2) Convenience

Buy online, without leaving home, driving, getting on a bus, or using any gas.  Or, stopping at the quick-mart instead of going out of your way to the supermarket to pick up a quart of milk.

3) To look better

Women buy lipstick to look better and to feel better (it’s a relatively inexpensive indulgence).  Nobody needs lipstick. Whiter teeth won’t improve your health or your teeth – they will make you look and feel more attractive.

4) Stories

Tell a story about your business or your product that connects with the people reading your post or your sales page.   Paris Hilton in Beverly Hills isn’t that interesting; we expect her to be there, doing whatever it is she does.  Hillbillies who struck oil and moved to Beverly Hills? That stands out!

5) Social proof

Testimonials, case studies, and endorsements increase trust.  If other people recommend something, especially people you know, or have heard of, you’re more likely to buy it.

6) Events

Two words:  Mothers Day.  Some more words: birthdays, anniversaries, end of the year, beginning of the year.

7) Statistical proof

Results from other people who have used the product, statistics showing an improvement in sales or income.

What other reasons can you think of?  What was the last big purchase you made?  How did you make a decision?

Six Emotional Triggers Every Marketer Should Know

janus masksWhat are emotional triggers?

Emotional triggers are words that generate an emotional, visceral response—a reaction that comes without a lot of analysis or thought, just straight from the lizard brain.

Emotional triggers work by building a connection that will prompt people to act. That’s why they’ve been used by copywriters for years,  because they increase responses.

What are these emotional triggers?

And why are they so powerful?

Here’s a list of them.

One: Greed

Because people want something for nothing, or to get something they don’t have. That’s why “free” works so well.

If you offer investment advice, you’ll get a better response from saying, “I help people get rich and retire early, even in an economic downturn.” than you would if you just said, “Oh I help people manage their stocks and bonds and other investments.”

The first one certainly gets people’s attention. The second one is dull and doesn’t really say anything to anybody that tells them why they should really care about what it is that you do.

Two: Fear

People are afraid they won’t get promoted, or they will lose their jobs, or won’t do well as a new parent.

The fear here is people who are worried they won’t have enough money for retirement. So offer them something that gets their attention and appeals to this particular fear, such as:

Do you have enough money for retirement? Take this 30-second quiz and find out!

(That’s both an attention getter, and a call to action)

Three: Guilt

Guilt is effective, particularly for nonprofits or pitches to parents, because people want the best for their children or want to help others who are less fortunate.

Four: Exclusivity or scarcity

This works because people like to have things that other people don’t have.

If something is a limited offer, or only 100 will be made, it appeals to people’s desire to stand out from their neighbors, or to have something special and unique that few other people can own.

Five: Anger

When people are mad about something they often want to act.

If they’re mad about high oil prices, or a proposal to put a big, smelly landfill two blocks from their homes, they will get excited, they will get mad and want to do something to stop it.

So, they will pay more attention to your mailing or your ad if you’re telling them how they can do something about it.

Six: Problem-solving

It doesn’t have to be a big problem. It can be a small problem, such as digging through your whole purse or lots of pockets to find your keys. Or, it can be how to set up a blog when you don’t have a lot of technical skills.

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40 Emotional Triggers That Will Boost Your Sales

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Selling to businesses has some differences than selling to consumers. Usually, the lead time is longer, more people are involved in the decision-making, and generally (except for a house or a car) the investment is lower.

However, business customers are still people. And, people will respond to the same cues regardless of whether they are deciding to buy a software package or a lawnmower.

Victor Schwab (“Mail Order Strategy”) compiled the following list of 40 emotional triggers that influence decisions. It was written in 1956, but it’s still relevant.

Here’s the list of emotional triggers:

People want to gain:

  1. Health
  2. Popularity
  3. Praise from others
  4. Pride of accomplishment
  5. Self-confidence
  6. Time
  7. Improved appearance
  8. Comfort
  9. Advancement: social-business
  10. Money
  11. Security in old age
  12. Leisure
  13. Increased enjoyment
  14. Personal prestige

They want to save:

  1. Time
  2. Discomfort
  3. Risks
  4. Money
  5. Worry
  6. Embarrassment
  7. Work
  8. Doubts

They want to be:

  1. Good parents
  2. Creative
  3. Efficient
  4. Recognized authorities
  5. Up-to-date
  6. Gregarious
  7. “First” in things
  8. Sociable, hospitable
  9. Proud of their possessions
  10. Influential over others

They want to do:

  1. Express their personalities
  2. Satisfy their curiosity
  3. Appreciate beauty
  4. Win others’ affection
  5. Resist domination by others
  6. Emulate the admirable
  7. Acquire or collect things
  8. Improve themselves generally

Tapping into the right emotion (greed, fear, want) can take your message from just OK to truly gripping, and make a world of difference in the results you get.