Customer Psychology Marketing: WHY Do People BUY?

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Why DO People Buy?

I recently read a very unusual article by Dov Gordon on Firepole Marketing, titled; 3 Questions to a Consistent Flow of Clients (Beware the Marketing Plumbers!). I really recommend you read it, as in RIGHT NOW!


This unusual article is a follow up on what was shared there.  I have always been emphasizing this point on naijapreneur. And it’s so painfully true;


people don’t care about you, how much success you’ve achieved or even what you have to sell.


People care about themselves first, second, third and up to infinity.


People are naturally selfish; including me, including you!


If you want customers to buy what you have to sell, here is what you need to do;


Forget about what you want or don’t want and focus on giving them what they want and getting rid of what they don’t want!


The 40/40/20 Rule of Marketing

Here is a fact that explains why customers buy. The “40/40/20 rule” explains what constitutes the response for a marketing campaign.  It breaks down like this:


  • 40% of the success of your marketing is dependent on the target audience
  • 40% of the success of your marketing is dependent on what you’re offering [product or service]
  • 20% of the success of your marketing is dependent on creativity

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This rule was popularized in the 1960’s by a direct mail guru named Ed Mayer. The first 40 represented your target audience. Meaning, 40% of the success of your direct response marketing program was tied to your message being sent to the right audience.


The second 40 stood for offer. Meaning, 40% of the success of your direct response program was centered on having the right offer for that audience. And 20 was creative. The copy and art are obviously important, but only if they relay the right message to the right people.


As you can see, customers don’t buy because your ads are very creatively done nor do they buy for any other reason besides their own. 80% of marketing success that brings about astounding sales is dependent on utility.


You have to know ‘what to sell’ [offer] to those ‘who needs them’ [target audience].


Why Do Customers Buy?

Customers buy for the following reasons. Provide these reasons and the sale becomes natural.


1.       Utility – why should I buy this?

The answer is simple according to Dov Gordon in his unusual article; customers buy because they are interested in two things. These two things they are interested in are the same two things you and I are interested in. Because all of us are only interested in the following two things:


  1. Getting rid of a PROBLEM you have and don’t want and / or


  1. Creating a RESULT that you want and don’t have.


Very basic and so true!


People pay for products and services for one or both of these reasons.


They either want a problem they have solved or they want to have a result they currently lack.


No more, no less.


Economists were smart enough to coin a word for these two reasons why people buy. They called it utility.


What is Utility?

Utility they said is the satisfaction derived from the consumption of a particular product or service. In other words, utility = satisfaction derived = value.


Products or services sell not because of you have bills to pay, or because you have needs to be met. In fact, if you ever hope of selling anything, you have to get ‘YOU’ out of the equation and focus on ‘THEM’.


Products or services sell because your customers want utility.


People don’t pay for products or services, they pay for utilitywhat the product or service can do for them.


In a previous post, I talked about the need for utility by asking this question; does your business matter? I asked some very harsh questions in that unusual article because I needed to challenge your thinking about what you ‘think’ matters and what ‘really’ matters.


The simple truth is that people don’t give two cents about you!


Forget about yourself and all that you ever want and focus on creating something SIGNIFICANT for others. This is how you get customers to buy whatever it is you are selling.


Until people can see utility in what you are offering for sale, you will never get them to buy.


So what problem do you help solve and what results do you help create for your customers?


2.       Credibility – why should I buy from you?

The second reasons why customers buy is credibility. Customers buy from people they trust. After a customer sees the utility in what you are offering for sale, the next thing they want to see is credibility. Are you for real? Can you really deliver this utility? Are you capable of delivering on your promise?


This is very crucial for making the sale. You can read more about how to establish credibility in this unusual article; why credibility comes before profitability.

3.       Relevance – why should I buy NOW?

I see the value in your offering, I trust your ability to deliver, but is what your selling relevant to my current situation?


I am interested in what you are offering for sale, based on certain track record, I think I trust your brand, but how well is your solution –product/service suitable for my current needs?


This is the most crucial phase of the three reasons why people buy. To successfully get over this phase, two key skills are required;


1. The ability to question skillfully


2. The ability to listen carefully


To uncover the relevance of your product/service to the current needs of the customer, you’ve got to dig deep beyond the surface. People find it naturally difficult expressing their deep desires until skillfully led. The more you skillfully ask questions and listen carefully and patiently to the answers, the more the customer will open up and talk to you.


In Psychoanalysis, this is called the Freudian slip. Psychologists have found that if you allow a person talk about himself freely, eventually he will slip. He will blurt out what he is really thinking about at the moment.


The job of the entrepreneur is to create the kind of environment where the customer feels comfortable expressing himself openly and honestly. Your goal is to create a comfortable environment with your personality, ask open-ended questions with words such as what, where, when, how, who, why, and which. And then listen carefully and patiently without any interruption.


The importance of asking skillful questions and listening carefully is this; the person who asks the questions is in control of the conversation.


Notice how job interviews are conducted? The candidate is put on the hot seat and the interviewer is in charge of the entire conversation. The same is applicable in every kind of scenario; the person who asks the questions is in charge of the conversation.


Through your skillful questions and careful listening, you are leading the customer to the point where they feel comfortable enough to voice out their ultimate concern. Once you get them to this point, the relevance of your offering would be clear enough to them and the desire to buy now would be present.


Your Turn

Why do you think customers buy?  Are there any other reasons besides the 3 mentioned above?


What are you selling; features or benefits? Have you discovered the utility in your product or service?  How do you creatively convey this utility to your target customers?


Why should people buy from you? What should make them trust you enough to buy from you? How have you communicated your credibility?


How well do you understand the pressing needs of your target customers? How relevant is your offering [product/service] to their pressing needs?


Join in the conversation, share your comments below.

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  1. Ben Waugh says:

    I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work :)

  2. Great summary. Another interesting read that compliments the theme of this article is “Do You Matter” – This book has more of an industrial design slant, but focuses on that all important question. I highly recommend it. Personally if Apple were to stop making products I feel I would be deeply impacted, so as a company they certainly matter :)

    • As always John, great to have you here. Do you matter is going to be on my to read list, didn’t even know such a book existed. I do agree with you that this is the core of understanding customer psychology marketing. Until what you do as a business matters to someone, you will never get them to buy.

      Thank you for you always insightful contributions.

  3. Thank you for teaching me Philips, great is your lessons, keep it up.

  4. As what I understand, people buy because they have wants/needs to be satisfied with through buying products. People usually overdone this because as to what extent, they buy products which is not really needed to their homes or for themselves, its because they are only fascinated with that product. In economists point of view, the attitude of people which is like this is somewhat overspending their money and the tendency is that: expenses will outdone income and tend to have no savings at all which is very dangerous! Well, anyways people do have brilliant minds to solve this. They just need time.

  5. Nigeria News says:

    Truly you have hit the nail by the head Tito. It is a good piece of information that is worth spreading. Thank you.

    • Thank you for the comment.
      Really appreciate your kind words.
      Customers are humans just like everyone of us, they are psychologically driven. To get their patronage, we do have to understand their psychological nature. Hope this has helped to shed some more light on that?

  6. Mohamed Madani says:

    This is a great article. First time on your blog and i got to learn so much. Well, now i have this task of reading all your older blogs. Am sure, i’ll get to learn a lot. :)

  7. Thanks for the honorable mention, Tito.


  8. I think people are driven by the idea of doing good. This is a very important factor in today’s economy. At the same time, companies have become aware of the fact that spending in marketing thru traditional channels no longer delivers results. People are now interested in helping and doing good as well. And for a company to succeed, it needs to address its customers’ interests –> so many contribute a part of their marketing budget to charity as a way to fulfill their customers’ needs. And this is Voucherry. Voucherry, connects cause supporters with excellent service merchants to generate more sales and more contributions. And that make people buy, knowing that with each of their purchases a non profit is helped.

  9. Thank a million thanks for this immeasurable unusual articles once again. may God continues to increase your wisdom, knowledge and understand as you continue to unfold success tips and guide in the world of business.

  10. The best thing we can do as marketers is to create an environment that gets people to feels god about themselves using our product. They first need to see themselves benefiting from what we are offering. Once they can see how good this product will make them feel they will be compelled to buy.

  11. Credibility is the key to getting people to buy from you…especailly online… and it s the main reason that Amazon is so successful. People trust and feel comfortable buying thigns from Amazon because they know they will be protected if there is a problem. That’s why its very difficult for the small guy to comepte with them… they hvae all the credibility they need built into every sale. Online marketers have to figure away to establish a similar type of credibility without the instant name recognition. One way to do this is testimonials…honest testimonials…. but that can be a tricky slope to navigate, as well!

  12. My pal proposed I would probably similar to this internet site. They had been totally correct. This kind of send truly made my own time. You can not consider precisely how much period I’d spent in this information and facts! Appreciate it!

  13. Hi Mr Philip, your article is quite fantastic. Kudos. Naija spirit is at work in you.

    I was searching through google search engine the number where my article on a similar topic “Why Customers Buy And Why They Don’t” is as my normal routine check on my productivity online when I stumbled upon your article, being a keen lover of Naija entrepreneurs [worldchangers with me], I stood to drop my comment with you and also to encourage you.

    I wrote an article on a similar topic which I would like you to take a look at. Meanwhile, I’m a practicing Entrepreneur. Here’s the article, check it out:
    Why Customers Buy And Why They Don’t via @emchis4noms


  14. Thank you so much this is very helpful

  15. Great article here, I’m totally going to reference this in my upcoming research study on what makes people buy online!

    Keep it up!


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