Thursday, July 29, 2010

Simple Marketing, pt iii

What Is My Customer Buying?

From this earlier post you now know who your customer is and where to find more of them.  The next question to answer is why do they buy from you.  So you have to determine what benefit your customers pay for.  To get best results, employ a skilled marketing consultant to guide you in this exercise.  But if you're determined to go it alone, you can get great mileage performing a thought experiment to uncover the true benefit your client realizes buying from you.

I explained in a previous column that people buy emotionally, not logically.  Our consumer culture so artfully manipulates us that we are often unaware of our own motivation.  For instance, examine the process of buying a new car.  Why does someone buy a new car?  What wants or needs does it satisfy?

Initially one might think a person buys a new car for transportation.  But wouldn't that be the last reason anyone would buy a new car?  Sit quietly and think about owning a new car.  What is it that one really wants out of the experience?  The new car smell?  The shiny object itself?  The lower mileage?  The monthly payments?  ("Hey, wait a minute...!")

If you sift through all the rationalizations you will uncover your emotional motives… you want it because it's exciting.  You can't wait to sit behind the wheel and drive something so sleek and elegant.

But we still haven't drilled down to the base reason.  You want the car because it's elegant?  What need does that satisfy?  So return to the thought experiment and imagine yourself behind the wheel of that car.  What thoughts and feelings are you experiencing?  Are you visualizing taking your sweetheart out in the car?  Or your friends?  Is it going to keep your kids safe or serve as a chick magnet?

If you sit long enough, you’ll sift through all the rationalizations and arrive at the fundamental emotional needs that buying that new automobile will supposedly satisfy.  Now do this for your product or service from a prospective client's point of view.

Once you've determined the emotional reasons your customers buy, couch your presentation to appeal to those emotions.  In your ads explain the benefit you can provide in a way that excites their senses.  Your objective is to make them want your offering more than their money.  The more time and energy you put into this exercise, the greater the return you'll realize.  We'll be honing your copy during the testing phase so we just need a good starting point.  If you don't get the marketing message perfect the first time, it'll improve over time.

Next week we’ll continue to develop your marketing plan.  We'll calculate your customer’s value to the company so you can determine what return each advertisement will produce.  That will define the cost per customer for your various advertising media which will allow you to plan your optimum advertising mix.

In one of the next few columns I'll discuss a proven easy method to ramp up new employees and get managers more invested rapidly.  This will greatly reduce turnover and build company morale.  I'll also be sharing a fantastic way to get your salespeople talking to more decision makers or what sales calls bypassing the gatekeeper.  It's a common problem among sales staff and this is a really cool original method to build instant credibility while getting the gatekeeper to put you right through to the right person.  There's lots more coming so stay reading.  If you haven't already subscribed, you can get this column delivered into your inbox as soon as its published by entering your email address on the upper right above the subscribe boxes.  Until then,

profitable business All!


  1. I have to admit probably the biggest reason people buy new cars is to impress someone. (they might not admit it though)

  2. If the business is structured around selling products...and it is business to consumer sales...then yes...emotional appeal has a lot to do with it. I like having the latest shiny gadgets, such as cell phones, laptops, computers, headsets, etc.

    However, what if you sell a service, business to business? Then the emotional appeal goes away and the level of service and pricing and availability determine repeat business. Getting some inside sales to the customer helps...but really it comes down to how to beat out your competition.
    Enjoyed reading your blog. Cheers!

  3. Hi Jenn,
    Thanks for your readership and your comments.

    Actually if you look far enough under the surface, you'll find an emotional trigger on any purchase. Even an intangible service that seems dry and academic is based on emotions.

    Let's use as example a purchasing agent instructed to get the best price for a given item. At first glance you'd think this is a completely unemotional purchase. And this is the situation with most big ticket corporate purchases.

    But if you look under the surface, you'll see a pool of emotional triggers. To uncover them you ask yourself why.

    Why does she need to get the lowest price? One reason is to satisfy her boss. So if you can short-cut that process for her and show her how she can satisfy her boss regardless of price, assuming no risk to her, wouldn't you agree that price becomes less of a concern?

    Maybe your service does something that your competition can't, something that will provide a greater return on its cost than your competitors. Or maybe it has a wider impact and provides much greater benefit to the organization that you can stress in your marketing message.

    If you impress upon her the additional specific benefits of your service that help her satisfy her underlying emotional goals, price becomes less important.

    This is only one emotional trigger that may or may not have an impact on her. Appeal to enough of them and you'll reduce price as an obstacle enough to prompt a purchase.

    This is a simple case but I hope it illustrates how everything human beings do is motivated by emotions. You just have to dig deep enough to find them. Our brains are masters at disguising our true intentions. If they weren't, advertising wouldn't work as well as it does.

    Thanks again for your feedback. Why is such a powerful business word, especially in sales. By asking why, you uncover the root of all problems and can overcome the price hurdle that can befall mature products at risk of commoditization.

    I'll be addressing further uses of why as well as some original sales techniques in the coming columns that tie in nicely with the marketing plan we're creating. You won't want to miss these. Subscribe to get the blog delivered right to your inbox. Until then,

    pb All!

  4. I could not agree with you more, a customer usually is looking for something past the price of the product. As a matter of fact when I was looking into buying cars price just served as a factor that I had to acknowledge so I would not go broke.

  5. Thanks for the article. As a Realtor, I'm aware of the emotional reasons clients have for buying or selling real estate. What I hadn't clarified, though, is WHY the clients are "buying" my services as opposed to those of another agent. I'll do the exercise! I'm sure it will help me differentiate myself from my competition. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  6. The idea that people "buy emotionally", can be identified in many of the commercials that you might see on television every single day. Why else would car companies advertise their cars with people acting in awe as they see the car drive by? The answer is because they are looking to trigger emotions which leads to more sales in the long run.

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