The Real Reasons Why People Buy

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What are the reasons why people buy from you? Or anyone else? Is it because you’re better? Faster? Cheaper?

Not really. Yes, those are perfectly logical reasons. But people generally don’t make decisions logically.

We like to think our reasoning is logical, dispassionate, and completely unemotional. Cool and rational, just like Mr. Spock.

We’re wrong.

The real decision-making process when we buy something is a bit different.

We decide based on emotional factors, not logical ones.  We then use those emotions to justify our decisions, and tell ourselves we’re being completely rational.

The real reasons why people buy:

1) To make money

More money means we can buy more, take better or more frequent vacations, or buy some gadget we’ve always wanted.  It means, we think, less stress in our lives, and less worrying about our futures.  So, something that promises to give us those results (not really the money, but what it represents), is highly appealing.

2) To save time

More time means we can spend more time with our families, take longer vacations, learn a new skill, or spend more time on a favorite hobby.

Promises of greater productivity appeal because we want to get more done, without spending as much time doing it.

3) Be popular/cool

Another emotional factor is “shiny new toy syndrome.”  We want the latest gadget, the newest phone, and the biggest TV.

The reasons: not just pride in ownership, but also being able to improve our status, be admired, and impress others.

Hey, look what I have! Isn’t it cool?  Doesn’t it make me cool too?

4) Protect their jobs

If the economy is bad, or your boss is nasty, something that can help protect your job, or get you promoted is extremely attractive.  If you’re worried about losing your job, a new skill may help improve your job security, protect your family, and give you peace of mind.

5) Belonging to something

Humans are generally social (even the introverts).  We like being part of a group and we like to interact with people who share our interests. We go to sporting events, buy t-shirts with our favorite team’s logos, and proudly point out the professional organizations we belong to.

What do these buying reasons have in common?

Emotional reactions to belonging, fear, security, or promises of stability are called emotional triggers: the desire to get more, to fit in, to be successful, look good to the boss, protect your family, make difficult problems easier to solve, etc.

There’s a full list of emotional triggers here. 

When you write your your sales letter or web copy, think about the emotional reasons people make decisions, not just the logical ones.  This applies even if  your product is highly technical software or machinery. Sure, add the specs and the sizes and the capacity, but don’t forget why people really buy things.

Emotional triggers in action

Here’s an example that’s so common we hardly even notice it.  It doesn’t make it any less effective though.  We’ve all seen the label on Ivory soap proudly proclaiming that it’s 99 44/100% pure.  We don’t know pure what, but it appeals to our emotions because it sounds both scientific and friendly.  It says this product is wholesome and good for your skin.

Another popular trigger is belonging.  Take beer ads for instance. A carefully chosen group of unusually attractive people are in a bar, having the best time you’ve ever seen anyone have.  The advertiser wants you to associate this with their beer.  They’re appealing to your sense of belonging.

Then there are the bourbon ads: hand-crafted, made in small batches.  This time the appeal is to snobbery and exclusivity.  Not everyone can buy this (we don’t make that much of it).  Only people with great taste and disposable income can purchase the product. And, of course, if you do buy it, it shows how smart and refined you are.


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?

Why Do People Buy From You?

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It may not be why you think. Greg discovered that people who buy green energy systems do it to be socially responsible. This discovery made his client realize that they were competing with both construction companies and charities. It also led to possible new partnerships with nature and conservation organizations.

Bodo talked to trade show attendees and found that the people who bought platinum lab materials were more concerned about durability than price.

Asking your customers questions can lead to new ways of marketing your products, open avenues for building new partnerships, and help you to better focus your marketing efforts.

There’s no point going on about the 12 colors your 42″ plasma TV comes in if what people really care about is the great picture (or the bragging rights).

How can you find out?

Ask them. Email a short survey (you can use surveymonkey or even Google docs), or make a few phone calls. Find out what’s on their minds. You may get a few surprises. You may also find new possibilities.