There are Only Two Reasons People Buy
Millions of words have been spent on studying consumer behavior. Probably billions. “If we can just crack the code, we’ll be rich!” Image ads and lists of facts fill pages of sales letters that are destined for the bankruptcy.
But the secret isn’t in some code.
The secret lies inside your customer’s mind. The reasons for buying are not only unique to your customer, but they’re unique to your niche.
There’s no single universal buying code.
However, there are only two fundamental reasons people buy: the logical reason and the real reason. We buy with our emotions, not our conscious mind. If we put our product inside the emotional story your customer tells herself, it’s more-likely she’ll buy our product.
Later, we rationalize our purchase with reason.
Every buying decision has an emotion attached to it
If we buy something for pleasure we might get a temporary rush from a purchase. When we buy for safety we feel a protective warmth for our family. If we buy to show status, our chest might puff a little bigger.
Whatever the reason, emotions play the major role in most of our purchases.
If the product we’re interested in doesn’t have a direct human need associated with it, there’s a high-likelihood the reason for purchase is emotional, not rational.
- We want to keep our family safe
- We worry about an elderly loved one living alone
- We want more money so we can have freedom
- We want a better human connection
- We’re jealous of our friends social posts
- We don’t want to miss an opportunity
However, most marketers chase the logical reason.
When we’re behind the business, it’s easy to be proud of all the ways we made a great product. It makes sense to share all the features. It seems logical to us, to explain all the reasons why our product would be a great fit with the customer.
But there’s a mismatch with this method. Logic doesn’t align with our customer’s true intentions.
We market our products to the emotion not the rationalization
Start the conversation with the emotion—the story behind your product and why you made it. Yes, you should include the FAQs, the bells, and the whistle, but those come later.
We meet the customer at the conversation inside her mind, not the conversation with the salesperson.
Once we decide internally, to make a purchase, only then do we look under the hood to ensure we’re getting the best for our money.
As customers, we don’t come to your sales page with reason.
We’ve got a serious problem to solve—many different problems, all juggling for mental bandwidth:
- We don’t care much about the history of your business
- We don’t care about the number of screws holding it together
- We don’t care how many versions of the software were created
- We don’t care about most of the features
We want to know the benefits to ourselves. This is how we make emotional decisions. We only care about the features later, once those emotional needs are met.
Features are Critical Too
Remember, there are only two reasons people buy. We need the features to rationalize the purchase. We want to calm our fear that we didn’t just buy a big jar of snake oil.
Without the features, our product doesn’t hold credible.
We need the features to ensure the solution matches our problem. We need the features to prove to our inner-boss that we didn’t just drop $2,000 on a course for no reason. We need the features to sleep at night.
The ‘feelings’ part of our brain made the internal buying decision, but the rational part of the brain pulls out the wallet. If your sales message can’t appease the rational part, the sale is over.
The right features presented honestly will lower your return rate.
We help others by showing we can help them before they pay us. One way to prove we can help is through the right list of features.
Address every question. Address every concern. Point out your flaws directly. The customer will find them eventually. When you address flaws head-on, the flaws are dampened.
The Order of Delivery is Important
Start your sales message with an emotional story—either yours or someone related to your product.
Place the product inside our lives, using emotion.
- Does the hero of the story win in the end?
- Does the story show the journey, from the reader’s current world, to a better world with your product in it?
- Does the story jerk us out of our emotional daze, pulling on the heart strings until we make a buying decision (yes/no)?
We need to picture your product in our lives. We need to see our problem solved and our life improved. All these decisions are made with emotion.
Only after the emotional hurdle is met, do we switch to rationalization, with focus on all the features and whistles.
Start your sales offer with emotion and follow-up with logic, by addressing all the doubts in your reader’s mind.
We pay attention to the issues that grab us by the issues we worry about.
Focus on the Big Emotions
Our product must solve a big problem, with a big emotion attracted to it. The bigger the problem you solve, with the bigger attached emotion, the more qualified people will buy your product.
We don’t want to solve small problems.
Is your customer aware of the problem you solve? We don’t want to become a teacher or trainer for the customer.
If you have to convince your reader she’s got a certain problem, you’ve got an uphill climb in selling your work.
We solve big problems attached to big emotions.
- We want to keep our children safe
- We want to earn more money
- We want to worry less
- We want better relationships
- We want to lose weight
- We want to be healthy and live longer
- We want to improve our psychological well-being
- We want to be more productive
- We want to save money
These are big problems.
Once we have the big problem we can attack it with an emotional story. We make the customer aware of her pain, even twisting the knife a little, as we pour gasoline in the problem.
We show what life will be like if she doesn’t solve the problem soon.
By using an emotional connection with the reader, you place your product/solution in her lap. We can’t help but imagine how life might be better with your product in it.
Solve a big problem with big emotions.
If you solve a small problem you won’t get the gut reaction required to make the sale. Your product becomes a commodity, where the best you can do is compete on price.
Small problems get ‘meh’ emotions.
You want the reader to pause and think about your product only, not scroll for the best price. Toilet paper is a commodity. You don’t want your product to become toilet paper. That model only works for the toilet paper industry.
Paint a Picture in the Reader’s Mind
When you tell an emotional story, put the reader in the middle. Instead of talking-down to the person, or lecturing, tell the story about someone else.
Take a lesson from the Hero’s Journey.
When we read about how someone else tried and failed, or you, the owner, tried and failed—and won—these are the stories that resonate with us. We like a good underdog. Customers love to hear about people just like them.
We want to know we’re not alone. That someone like us can overcome a similar problem. And now the solution to the problem is in front of us. When you give your emotional story in someone else’s life we empathize and engage without feeling like a failure, or a bad person.
We’ll put ourselves in the shoes of the protagonist without feeling threatened by some lecture.
- If you sell a financial product show the story of someone down-and-out who later made it, using your product
- If you sell a fitness product, show before and after stories or regular people, just like us
- If you sell a relationship product tell stories of regular people who struggled before, then find true love, using your product
- If you sell a budgeting app, tell the story of a regular person who’s neck-deep in debt, but overcame her bills in record time, with a few clicks on your app
We call this the escape-arrival framework.
We start the process with an emotional ‘before’ story, painting the ordinary world without your product. Then, we twist the knife and show what the customer’s future might look like if she continues the same path. Finally, we provide an alternative–your product–as the solution (and arrival) to a better life.
We make buying decisions with emotions and rationalize our non-rational behavior later.
If you meet the customer where she’s at, right now, you’ll have a better chance of selling her on the idea of your product as a solution. You won’t have to compete on price. Your product won’t be seen as a commodity.
When you adopt emotion-based marketing we help the customer make the buying decision faster.
August Birch is an author, email expert, and entrepreneur from Michigan, USA. As a self-appointed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indies how to make more work that sells and sell more work once it’s made. When he’s not writing or teaching, August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.