What is behind buyer behaviour, why do people buy and how can you make people buy?
These are the fundamental questions that underlie all marketing and sales.
First The Bad News...
You can't make people buy what they don't want?
Unless you use coercive tactics like putting a gun to their heads - and that is not the kind of guerrilla marketing that I recommend.
The good news is that you help someone want something they don't need.
And no that is not being naughty.
In Western societies the vast majority of people have their basic needs covered. They don't lack food, water, shelter...
So most of the time you are not selling into needs but wants and desires.
In "All Marketers Are Liars" Seth Godin explained his theory that marketers and consumers are co-conspirators. People want to buy but want to be persuaded.
Saving is good but spending is more fun.
Gratification Of Desires
So most of the time buyer behaviour is driven by the desire for gratification, usually below the logical mind in the subconscious.
Just look for a moment at what you buy.
How much is based on fundamental need and how much on emotional desire for more pleasure, more money, to fit in, to stand out?
Guest blogger Sally Ormond, of Briar Copywriting wrote about Copywriting and the Seven Deadly Sins because some humans are drawn to these sins.
I want to share some new research endorsed by the Vatican!
First what are...
The Seven Deadly Sins
Just in case you can't remember, the seven deadly sins are:
- Lust - the base emotion of sexual desire which is so much fun.
- Gluttony - over-indulgence of food and drink
- Avarice - or greed - a self-serving desire for more money, more power, more possessions
- Sloth - or laziness - putting off what needs to be done or seeking the easy way
- Wrath - or anger - contentiously included in the seven deadly sins but it is a destructive and powerful emotion that make seek vengeance.
- Envy - comes from wanting what someone else has that stems from low self esteem and leads to unhappiness. Side note - jealousy and envy are often used interchangeably but jealousy is the fear of losing something you have, envy from wanting what someone else has.
- Pride - finding excessive pleasure in what you have done or what you own.
All very natural emotions which influence buyer behaviour.
For balance, let me just cover the..
Seven Heavenly Virtues
Very worthy but some are more natural than others and they don't translate well into buyer behaviour.
As a marketer I don't want to encourage patience - I want you to want it now and to take action NOW.
These are the behaviours that you can admire in others but they don't stir the emotions in this selfish world.
Before going into the religious research I think it is worth having a quick look at two of the most well established motivation theories.
Hertzberg's Motivation Hygiene Theory
He recognised that there are two forces which motivate behaviour - moving away from something bad or moving towards something good.
But it isn't a single scale that ranges from bad to good.
Some factors range from bad to OK while others start at OK but motivate you for more.
Think of a hotel. A dirty room is disgusting but provided the room is clean, you don't derive benefit from marginal improvements.
This idea is used a lot in sales and marketing - people are motivated to move away from pain and move towards pleasure (or gain).
The second motivation theory is...
Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs
This taps back into the needs and wants debate I covered earlier as part of buyer behaviour.
It is usually described as five levels but I'm going to add a sixth level that Maslow identified later in life.
- Physiological - food, water, sex, sleep
- Safety of self, family and possessions
- Love and belonging
- Self esteem - that comes from self respect and the respect of others
- Self actualisation - the need to make the most of yourself and achieve your potential
- Transcendence - of helping others to achieve more.
It is easy to relate into buyer behaviour as you can link certain spending into the different levels. More controversial is the idea that each level has to be satisfied before moving into the next.
Look at how the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues fit into these driving forces.
Also look for fits across the categories.
Charity is a virtue - giving money (or time) to those who are less well off but isn't there another payoff.
Don't these multi-billionaires who creative massive charitable trusts also benefit - wouldn't they take pride in what they are doing, wouldn't they win the respect of others and boost their own self esteem, wouldn't they meet their drive for transcendence?
On a much smaller scale, each month I sponsor a child and have done for over twenty years. The current child is Ronald who lives in Ethiopia. I feel good that I am doing something but it also helps ease my guilt at my excessive consumption that comes through in gluttony and avarice.
Buyer Behaviour - Stimulus And Response
Much of buyer behaviour isn't based on a rational, considered decision but an emotional response - or reaction - to a particular stimulus.
One of my favourite advertising campaigns was "Naughty But Nice" to promote fresh cream cakes. When I saw the advert and the fresh cream oozing out as the beautiful model bit into a cake, I wanted one.
And the headline "Naught But Nice" meant that I knew I was sinning but it was excused because it was sooo good. And who really gets harmed if I tuck into a chocolate éclair or a vanilla slice?
I get the same response with the smell of bacon. I am concerned with animal welfare and often think I should be vegetarian but then I smell bacon frying and I want a bacon sandwich, or I hear steak sizzling on the barbecue...
I don't think, I react emotionally.
Vatican Endorsed Findings On Sins
I picked up this information from The Sunday Times on 22 February 2009.
It appears that men and women sin in different ways - so you need to know this for your target marketing.
Monsignor Wojciech Gietrych is personal theologian to Pope Benedict XVI research based on his experience of the confessional but his findings have been backed up by Roberto Bosa, a Jesuit priest who has carried out a computerised study of the works of St Thomas Aquinas.
If you are a man, your main sins in order are:
The Sunday Times speculates on whether sloth occurs naturally after over-indulging in the first two but I'm not so sure.
But woman give in to different temptations:
So perhaps the man's lust isn't satisfied but the husband's gluttony and the wife's pride in her rich, calorific home cooking could go hand in hand.
Using The Sins In Marketing To Motivate Desired Buyer Behaviour
So if you are selling to a man, you can attract attention by featuring a scantily clad woman in the advert, hint at the pleasures and then make it all sound so easy.
So if you are selling lawn mowers, you are better with:
"A Quick 15 Minute Saunter Around The Lawn Before You Can Get Back To The TV"
type headline than:
"Our Lawn Mower Will Give You A Workout Equivalent To 100 Press-Ups, 200 Pull-Ups, 500 Sit-Ups And A Six Mile Run"
for the majority of men.
But for women you need to be building your marketing around pride - either moving towards being proud of what she has or moving away from being ashamed - before playing the envy card. If she deserves to have it, so do you.
Reducing The Impact Of Sin
We may be naturally drawn to some types of sin and easily persuaded to sin a little more - like my naughty but nice cream cakes.
As marketers we may not need to create the desire to sin, just reduce the bad consequences of indulging in the sin.
While condom adverts may not create the desire to submit to lust, they do reduce the reduce the threat of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
A magic slimming pill will allow me to indulge in more cream cakes and mean I don't have to worry about my expanding waistline.
Sinners Can Repent
But the adverse consequences of the sin also opens up the marketing opportunity to help sinners repent.
As well as the movement towards sin, you have the opposite driving force of moving away from sin.
The overweight and slothful man who wants to lose weight and exercise.
Perhaps he has truly repented or perhaps he's not doing as well as he'd like on the sin of lust.
You Are A Buyer, What Do You Think?
I'd be very interested to know what you think about what motivates buyer behaviour and why people buy.
I had a lot of fun researching and writing this and thinking about how the sins and virtues can influence the buying decision.
If you have a story to share - linked into buying and sins or virtues - or views about this article, then please leave a comment.