I recently visited an oldie but goodie Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, given by Simon Sinek. It’s one of the top 20 most watched Ted Talks ever. In it, Simon talks about how great leaders target the “why” – and even if you aren’t interested in becoming a great leader, it’s well worth a listen for marketers and business owners alike. Because we, also, want to inspire.
In fact, that’s our sole purpose as marketers and owners, isn’t it? To inspire customers to buy our product or service. To inspire people to support our company with their time, money and kudos. To inspire people to spread positive PR goodness our way.
Tapping into the Psychology of Buying
Psychology is the study of the mind and, especially, behavior. Psychology is studying the whichness of the why. Why do we do the things we do? What is the driving force for this or that behavior? This science has done quite a bit to help us discover more about what makes humans… human.
And really, that’s what we marketers are looking at. We’re targeting the humanity of our marketing. It’s not just the humanity, however, but our basic humanity, our core, what makes us tick. Simon Sinek calls this the “why”.
In plain speak, the “why” is the answer to the question: what is the real value for my customer base?
Value is Relative
A product or service is only worth what the market will bear. I like the way Women in Rural Enterprise talks about value in a 2015 article, Psychology of the Buyer:
The buyer decides what is valuable and what is value added – not you! This needs a bit of explanation. Some buyers DO value that you spent umpteen days hand knitting a pullover and that it is unique. Other buyers think it is directly comparable with a £8 jumper from Primark. You can never persuade them otherwise.
A more obvious example is the company that made car fan belts that were 20% more expensive than all their competitors because they came in 33 different colors and shades. They made no sales because no buyer of a car fan belt places a value on what color it is!
There is a lot going on in these two examples:
Those that buy the hand-knitted pullover value uniqueness; that uniqueness says something to them about themselves. Maybe they consider themselves to be a unique individual, or someone that recognizes quality, or someone who supports the crafter. Whatever it is, the fact that the pullover is handmade and unique appeals to their core beliefs of who and what they are.
The people who compare the hand-knitted to the Primark jumper and see no difference other than cost are most likely individuals who consider themselves thrifty, frugal, and careful with their money. I’ve known people with a $2 silk tie they found at a Salvation Army store and people with a $200 dollar Charvet tie from Bergdorf Goodman boast with the same level of excitement.
The third example is a perfect example of a company that didn’t do their market research. The plain and simple fact is, for some things, people just want them to work. That is the value. In this case, the best sales job is that they work better, and it’s often the hardest sales point to market. How do you prove a fan belt works better than another?
-And, whether it’s a fan belt, jumper or couch, how do you reach the consumer to inspire them to buy? How do you find what makes them tick?
Tips for Marketing to the “Why”
Getting into your market’s psychology isn’t easy. That’s why people that write conversion copy charge top dollar; because it takes time, and the clients find it valuable. They’re willing to pay for it, because the return is umpteen times as much. However, there are some things you can do to inspire – or find out what inspires – without such a large investment in money. Here are a few tips:
- Use your current market for research. Your current customer base is an excellent source of information, and should never be ignored. Provide a survey with their transactions. Even if most do not respond, if only ten or fifteen people respond, you may be surprised by what you find out about how your products and company are being perceived.
- Connect with, and actually talk to, people on social channels. People on social channels have a tendency to be a lot more outspoken and forthcoming about how they feel. After all, social channels are all about being social, right? Don’t be afraid to ask someone why they buy something – just try to do it in a way that isn’t all about you. “Hey, we’re doing a brief survey about buyer behavior and would love your thoughts. Why do you buy vacuum cleaners?”
- Slip in a product sample by surprise with their first purchase. Called the Reciprocity Principle, the premise is that people respond to nice behavior with nice before. Actions like giving away product samples or gifts have a tendency to build an obligatory feeling in the receiver to return the favor. In other words, I gave you a product sample, you feel obliged to buy something. I give you part of an article, you feel obliged to enter your information to read the rest, and so on.
- Tap into the Liking Principle. The Liking Principle says that we’re more likely to buy from someone we like. Surprisingly enough, we don’t have to actually like them; they just have to be perceived as likeable. ReferralCandy has an excellent article on the Liking Principle with 7 real-world examples.
If you’re having problems with sales – if your conversions aren’t what you want them to be -, it could very well be that you aren’t reaching the right part of your consumer. For example, they may want something purple, but it isn’t the purple socks you’re selling. In short, you’re having a problem with inspiration.
Do yourself and your business a huge favor. Read the links in this post. Read the very fantastic Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. If you don’t have time for that, read this summary of the book, by Tom Polanksi of eBrand Media.
Take the time to learn more about the psychology of persuasion, influence, buying and what inspires us. This is invaluable knowledge for anyone marketing a product or service.
And if you don’t have time to read any of the research, take the time to talk to the people who have. Contact us, and we’ll get you on the right path.