I hate to break it to you, but it’s time to get over your font colors, logos and well-designed products. Stop dreaming about your blogging strategy, and press pause on that destined-to-go-viral video you’re recording.
Everything you’re doing has just one goal: to (eventually) make people buy from you. They buy, revenues go up, you have to hire more people and get a 401(k) plan, and suddenly you’re featured on the cover of that business magazine. Right?
Well, yes, maybe. But for all your hard work, the truth remains that there are only two reasons people buy anything: want and need. So how about we step away from marketing for a minute and discuss the real reasons people buy anything?
Starting With a Need
We all have needs continuously of varying priority. What smart businesspeople understand, however, is that need is only the starting point. What our customers need from us is the story that shows why they want what we have.
Why? Because what we do, make and sell isn’t special. From online marketers and graphic designers to coffee shop owners and those in the manufacturing trades, we can always find someone else who offers our exact same “what.” But when we can transform that need into a want, we’ve successfully tapped into our customers’ why.
Sure, some needs are basic, and when someone needs a cup of joe in a strange town, that need might take them to the first purveyor in their line of sight. But the customers you want (not the ones you need) are those who understand three things about your brand:
- Where they fit with your company,
- That you understand their needs, and
- By wanting—and getting—what you have, their lives are better.
Here’s an exercise I take clients through as we work on their messaging. Answering these questions helps us uncover their target audience’s whys, and once you have their whys, you have what you need to create a richer, want-powered buying experience. So ask yourself this:
1. What are the common challenges your customers share when you first meet them?
2. How can your company’s offerings alleviate those challenges?
3. What would you like your customers to say about their experience with you after they’ve completed their purchase?
I know that it’s all kind of touchy-feely. But that’s the thing—we tend to spend more time on the things our company sells than the feelings that make people decide to buy. And although it’s harder to delve into the whys behind what makes your customers decide to buy, in the long run, knowing that leads you into the most coveted place you could hold in their hearts.
Becoming a Want
We all want to be wanted. Want is what makes us forget about price and drive 11 miles more to get the exact same thing we could have purchased somewhere closer.
You want to be wanted by your customers. And that means hitting them in the feelings. Appealing to your audience’s feelings is also how smart brands stop competing on price, even in highly commoditized markets. Feelings create value, and value leads to that sense of want.
Just ask yourself: What brand would I drive 25 extra miles to do business with? What brand would I continue to buy from even if their prices went up 10 percent? When you make that short list of brands, ask yourself how your in-store, online and post-purchase experiences make you feel about these brands.
That’s why people buy—those experiences you just listed.
Need then becomes want, and that want translates into a customer experience that make people feel it’s worth coming back. Sounds a whole lot better than a one-and-done, price-driven, purely transactional experience, doesn’t it?
What to Remember About Why and Buy
How about we break it down into bite-sized pieces?
- Transforming need into want. The one question to ask is, How can you make your target audience’s lives better by fulfilling a need they have?
- Thriving as a want. When you create an emotional experience for your customers, needs become wants. People want that feeling again, so they keep coming back. This is how savvy brands transcend competing on price.
- Revisiting marketing. Once you understand what emotionally motivates your customers, you can craft a better brand presence everywhere. Everything you create should speak to fulfilling your customers’ (not your) wants.
So if you’re finding something in your buy cycle that’s troubling you, maybe it’s time to step back and think more about why people buy. Since what you do isn’t special, the key to building a better buying experience—one with higher conversions, more units sold and more customers served—is offering your audience a feeling they can’t get anywhere else.
If you think I'm full of it when I ask you to ponder the why of the buy, here's a TEDx talk by Simon Sinek that might get you even more excited about what "why" has in store for your business's buy cycle.
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