Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail Order Association
13 Reasons Why People Buy by Ray Jutkins
Everyone who understands even an inch of marketing and direct marketing recognizes the absolute need for an offer.
To get an offer to work you first need to know why people buy. What factors get someone to make a buying decision?
Let's begin by defining offer. First, what an offer is NOT: An offer is not more features and benefits. You have them with your product or service anyway. An offer is "more" than that.
An offer is an extra, over and above features and benefits. It is a bonus. It says if you'll do this, I'll do that. If you respond by this date I'll give you that premium. If you take a demonstration I'll give you "W". If you buy by "X" date you'll save "Y", or earn "Z".
There are countless offers, and ways to present them. And an almost equal collection of reasons why people buy. I've made a list of about 40 reasons why people buy -- each tied to an offer. For this Baker's Dozen Collection I've narrowed the field to the "best" 13 -- the 13 I see working most often.
1. People buy ... To Make Money -- To Save Money
Almost every financial organization features one or the other or both of these themes. Make money with us ... save money with us.
For some money is the ONLY theme. Everything they do is centered around price. Many of the jumbo national and international "box stores" talk price before anything else.
The savings institutions and investment houses talk how much you can earn with their plan.
There is no doubt money, no matter where it comes from or how you get it, is a strong motivator toward making a buying decision.
2. People buy ... To Avoid Extra Effort -- To Make Work Easier -- To Save Time
Right behind money is time. Overnight delivery services, jet airplanes, the World Wide Web all talk time.
Fast planes and express trains take us where we're going quicker -- we save time. The Concorde has been sold on that premise since day one. Ditto high-speed trains in Germany and Japan.
The courier same day and overnight delivery service business lead to the facsimile machine, which had been around for decades, to have a life of its own. And for about 12-15 years the fax was key to many businesses. E-mail is fast taking it's place -- it is faster. It saves more time. And it's easy.
Cafeteria restaurants are faster than sit-down style. Some fast food joints "guarantee" you service in "X" minutes. Self-service departments stores and service stations came about because you can do it yourself -- quicker. You save time.
Any product or service that can theme "time" has something going for it!
3. People buy ... To Emulate Others -- To Feel Significant
Many people have mental mentors, if not "real" ones. Someone they look up to, even when they do not know that person.
Many sports figures and movie "stars" fit in this category. Some people like to "pretend" they are someone else. The Elvis impersonators are good examples. Just the other day I saw an entertainment advertisement where NONE of the performers were who they were playing.
The same happens in business ... many look "up" to someone else. Maybe a peer who seems to have it all. Possibly a boss, a friend, a relative who is "successful".
Well, when your offer allows your marketplace to feel good about themselves, to "feel" like who they look up to, you have a winner. I call it the "John Wayne" syndrome. He is still an icon to many.
Cosmetics, plastic surgery, almost anything to do with health and wellness and exercise and diet also fit here. Products that help you emulate others.
4. People buy ... To Feel Worthwhile -- To Feel Good About Myself
"I've earned it -- I deserve it."
How many times have you heard someone say that? It doesn't matter what you think -- they feel it is time to break out of the pack and do something different. They feel good -- they want others to feel the feel good with them.
Eating devilish chocolate cake, for instance! Because you lost 5lbs. of the 15 you're aiming to shake loose. So you do feel good about yourself. You do feel you earned a reward.
Or a day off, after a series of long non-stop work performances. Maybe you take in an amusement park -- or an evening at the movies. Many times these products are sold "because you deserve it".
Maybe you sleep 'til noon. Or get leather seats in your new car. An upgraded computer system. A cell phone. A new pair of shoes. These products allow you to feel good about yourself.
5. People buy ... To Have Beautiful Possessions -- To Conserve my Possessions
Most people enjoy having nice things. Furniture for their home. The home itself ... it's style, the yard, the neighborhood are all "beautiful".
Cars, and today trucks and some motorcycles, are frequently sold on their "beauty" -- something you can be proud of. And today you're told you need more than one of each!
Fashion has a direct relationship to your appearance. Clothes that make you look nice and feel good. "Clothes make the man".
And once we have something worthwhile, we like to keep it. Insurance as protection is sold on that premise. Security systems, too. You might even say vitamins, health food, cosmetics -- all are presented as a way to conserve (and preserve!) yourself.
This is the material part of feeling good. We're real good today talking and presenting materialism. That approach, with the right offer, moves zillions of products every day.
6. People buy ... To Be An Individual -- To Be "In Style"
As much as we start with family, and groups such as church and school and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, The Garden Club and the Kiwanis, the corporate softball team, the associations we belong to, we like being individual.
This "reason why people buy" is almost an oxymoron. Yet it is also very true. We want to be with our collection of family and friends, those we are comfortable with. Our neighborhood is made up of people similar to us. Look around you -- you'll find it's true. This "fact" gives you strength and peace of mind. We want to look and feel and act like we belong.
Yet, we also want to stand out. Be a wee bit "different". Not get lost in the crowd. Be our own woman, our own man. Be a true individual.
Accessories for fashion, customization for cars and motorcycles allow us to have it both ways. We are "in" with the right product, and we are our own person.
Ditto for online brokerage services. You select a service that provides you (and countless others -- into the millions) what you need ... doing it online is "in style". And then you make your own decisions. Individually.
7. People buy ... To Be Appreciated -- To Be Recognized
Few can work or perform alone and be totally satisfied.
Writing a book no one reads fails to give much of a boost to the writer. Building a house from the ground up and not sharing the end result with friends and family gives little reward.
Practice, practice, practice -- without performance is rare. Whether it is the theatre, a musical instrument, a speech. You've heard the phrase "what if they gave a party and no one came"? The same applies here -- what if you're all ready, and no one showed up to offer appreciation and praise -- no recognition?
The incentive and motivation industry has been built on awards and recognition. An antique car show with plaques and trophies to the "winners". A bumper sticker that says "My kid is tops at Acme Elementary School" is a form of recognition.
Sometimes the recognition is "soft". As a sports performance with a "standing ovation". For scoring a touchdown in football, hitting a home run in baseball. We are all actors and actresses -- who "live" for that end of performance recognition.
People like to know other people appreciate their efforts. The Oscars, the Emmys, the Boy Scout Eagle Scout award are each a form of recognition. And each a reason people make a decision to do something, to take action, to buy.
8. People buy ... To Believe What I Do Matters -- To Be Important
A few days ago I was chatting with a friend. He said he has had the same job for nearly 3 decades. He then went on to comment on the new "kid" on the block.
What he was saying was he mattered. He knew is job. He was not being self-important just to be so -- he knew he knew what he was talking about. He knew he made a difference to the farmers he worked with in the valley where he lived and worked.
And the new "kid" did not. Not yet, anyway.
Whether it's cooking a meal for your family or reading a book to your kids, building a storage pen for the local school or changing a flat tire for a damsel in distress, writing a speech for the boss or donating your time to a charity, everyone wants to feel they do make a difference. That what they offer does matter.
9. People buy ... To Take Advantage of Opportunities -- To Be Rewarded for Time & Effort
It's rare the person who can say they took advantage of every opportunity presented to them.
On the other side, it's common to hear someone say: "If I had only (fill in the blank) I'd be worth a zillion today".
There are cutting edge leaders who DO take advantage of opportunities. They see a need and dive into filling it.
On the opposite side there are those who do not see opportunities, and when they do they are not comfortable doing anything about them. They are followers, who take a new step only with a push. Still, these people need a reward for their time and effort -- no matter what it is.
In the every day activities of home and work, people like to be "rewarded" for their efforts. Maybe it is an idea that makes a task more efficient or effective. Maybe it's a customer service concept whose time has come. It could be simply a "change" in how something happens.
The reward can be simple, too. And be nothing more (or less!) than a pat on the back from the boss. Or a most sincere "thank-you". It could be not having to do the dishes tonight to a teen-ager. It could be "lunch on me".
If you seek opportunities or find them, people appreciate some recognition for their time and efforts.
10. People buy ... To Have Friends -- To Be Popular -- To "Belong"
Hermits are few.
Yes, there are quiet people. I live with one ... who is truly "shy". Although you'd never know it in a 1:1 meeting or conversation.
Even the softest people like to have family and friends. Not many, still a few. And those few who will allow you to "belong", to be a part of their group, their club, their association, their gathering. With no strings attached.
As a teen-ager I was a close buddy with 2 others. We formed the
3-Musketeers ... which by it's very definition kept others from becoming a part. Once we figured that out we changed our name -- as we wanted to be popular with more than just ourselves.
"Clubs" are popular. I work with one such group of nearly 1 million members across North America. They have a common thread that ties them together, makes them a unit. They "belong".
11. People buy ... To Feel As If I have Options -- To Gain Control
Back someone into a corner and most often you'll have a fight on your hands.
Give people only way to do something and you're leaving money on the table. People like options.
And more than small, medium and large. Or red, white and blue. They want options on how to buy, how to pay, when to pay. 24/7 as a service has become popular because people want options. The World Wide Web has become popular because it offers scores of options on every topic and subject known to man.
At the same time, the marketplace wants to be in control. They want to make the buying decision. I have a theory that no one likes to be sold ... many sure do like to buy! When I am buying I am in control. When you are selling me you are in control. I want to be in control.
So, offer options. And encourage your prospect to become your customer by allowing them the opportunity to make decisions.
12. People buy ... To Develop a Unique Identity -- To Feed Ego
People buy things -- and justify them -- for many reasons.
A good friend has a 1969 Ferrari. Only 125 of this model were made ... less than 40 are left in the world. Owning this car fills an identity need -- and most certainly feeds the ego. Why else would you own, and drive, such a car?
Shopping at premium only stores establishes an identity -- and feeds ego. Shopping at discount only stores certainly creates an identity -- not sure what that does for ego. Except you feel you always get the best deal.
Flying first class and eating fat free low calorie foods are 2 more activities that say who you are. They make you feel good about making those buying decisions ... and about yourself.
13. People buy ... To Be Happy -- To Love and Be Loved
No one wants to be unhappy. Few wish to pass on love. Either giving or getting. These traits are base to humans.
Happiness comes many ways. From a fine meal in a 5 star restaurant to a hike in a national park. A new set of bedroom furniture. A good book. A day with a buddy from your school days. A special holiday with your grandmother.
Loving is different. Frequently difficult to measure -- more easily "felt". A box of candies, a bouquet of flowers, a piece of jewelry on Valentines Day. A surprise birthday party. "Stuff" that really doesn't express love -- yet is an expression.
When your product or service is "hard" or "soft", small or large, new or old, upscale or inexpensive -- no matter its' content, you do want your buyer to be happy. At a minimum, to be happy.
Love is tougher. A buyer may say "I just love this catalogue". While that is nice for the owner to hear, it's certainly not the same as loving your grandchildren.
Happiness ... Love. If you've got it, flaunt it!
About Ray Jutkins, October 3rd, 1936 — January 6th, 2005. Ray was one of the NMOA’s most generous contributors. Over the years Ray supplied the NMOA with hundreds of tips and articles for members. This is just one of many. Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa. Keep an eye out for more of Ray’s marketing tips and how-to articles in the pages of Direct Marketing Digest and the article archive on the NMOA website.
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