Chapter 4: How to Trigger Your Customer's Purchase Decisions
Is it possible to do all of the things we talked about so far to build want and desire, to magnetise your marketing, to put people into decision-making mode, yet still not see your sales as rising? Is it possible for a football team to play a great game and still lose? Not only is it possible, it happens all the time. A marketer makes all the right moves but the payoff never arrives.
Triggering the purchase decision
In this chapter, we will find out why that happens and take simple measures to prevent it by implementing some of these ideas.
You will avoid sales breakdown and you will move the revenue needle. I said in the previous chapter that getting your customers or potential customers into decision-making mode is a critical step in enticing them to buy, but even when you do that, another roadblock may exist.
The buyer can be in DMM for some time, debating weighing options, and never make any purchase decision. It's like the right at the junction in the road and instead of picking a route moving on, they just freeze right there at the junction.
There are three primary reasons why your clients can freeze and hesitate to make the purchase decision. Let us identify what they are and then I'll offer you several antidotes. With these antidotes, you will be triggering the purchase decision.
The first decision block is a perception of sameness amongst options. If all your options are substantially identical, which do you choose? Who knows, if there's no clear-cut advantage to any of them the customer either puts off making a decision or they make a random decision which may be even worse if they happen to choose a competitor. The best antidote to sameness amongst competing products or services is differences.
Don't be the same, be different. I admit, differentiating your product or service is basic and I'm not going to spend much time on it, but since the perception of sameness is a decision block and since you might benefit greatly by creating just one more promotable difference let's review a checklist.
Try not to rely too heavily on your marketing to create the perception of differences where no real differences exist. That’s like placing an unfair burden on your marketing and may render a lot of your marketing ineffective. Instead, create some real differences such as these; product and or service differences are those that are inherent in your actual product or service.
Some beer producers go through a process called cold filtering which makes their draught beer in bottles now that's different than most other bottled beers. In the US, Martin's supermarkets take your groceries out to your car for you, no tipping allowed, it's just part of the service. Jimmy Johns makes and delivers sandwiches really fast, in their case, speed is the big difference they emphasize.
Another possibility is to create container differences that have to do with the physical package or design of your product or service.
Recording artists try to look as different as possible from Elvis Presley to Little Richard to The Beatles to Alice Cooper, Boy George Madonna, Neyo, Lady Gaga, Stormzy, Kano, and so on.
They are different and sometimes outrageous appearance means they don't have to rely strictly on their music to garner attention.
Pringles potato chips come evenly stacked in a can instead of the traditional bag. Apple’s products always have a distinctive artsy design and so do the boxes they come in.
One more way to differentiate yourself is with distribution differences. This deals with how your products or service reaches the customer or how it is purchased. Domino's Pizza pioneered the concept of home delivery pizza. A major difference between Dominos and every other pizza restaurant.
Many marketers choose to launch their products through television infomercials or through one product website rather than through shelf space at retailers.
Screw Fix UK distributes and sells to plumbers with their own fleet of trucks. The home shopping network and QVC took television advertising to its extreme by creating their own 24/7 nonstop perpetual motion commercials. A couple of things to keep in mind as you create some differences, ideally, your differences are improvements or advantages but they don't have to be.
Ivory soap floats do not make ivory a better soap who knows but it is a difference nonetheless. If your fizzy drink contains a lot of caffeine you promote that, if it contains no caffeine you promote that. You can leave it up to each individual consumer to determine what is attractive to them and what isn't. You just promote your differences and attract the customers who like them.
When you create and promote your differences what will your competitors do?
One of two things, they'll either ignore your differences and promote their own which is usually the best thing or they'll copy your differences which is the more common reaction.
FedEx pioneered overnight package delivery but now UPS and even the Royal Mail postal service do that too. Dominos delivers but now several competitors do too. In most cases, you can't stop your competitors from copying your differences, so don't worry about it usually they won't be an exact copy anyway. Your strategy is to use your differences, even minute ones to nudge the buyer into making the buy decision.
The second thing that often blocks the client from making a decision is too many choices and I don't mean too many competing products or services to choose from, I mean too many options that you offer.
Remember what we said in chapter 3, the brain likes to take the easy route and decision-making is sometimes difficult. If there are too many options to choose from, that makes it a really difficult decision, the result is no decision at all or if they're forced to make a decision they'll end up with buyers remorse.
I was in a toy aisle of a major retailer in the USA in 2019 not long ago looking for a gift for my niece. I saw a mother and her young daughter, the girl appeared to be around four or five discussing a particular doll. Evidently, the little girl was told she could choose which doll she wanted. They were looking at one particular type of doll but that doll came in four different outfits and the girl was having a hard time deciding which one she wanted.
The girl was grimacing as her eyes went from one doll to the next and eventually the mother said she needed to make a decision. Finally, in anguish, the girl shows one of the dolls and slowly pulls it off the shelf. Now you will think she'd be happy as she can be with her new doll, instead she is walking away with her soulful eyes on the ones she left behind rather than the ones in her arms.
Well, guess what, adults are the same way, although they may not be outwardly anguished, they still have trouble making a decision when there are too many viable choices.
Let me clarify something, the consumer likes to choose amongst options. In fact, that is one of the fundamental principles upon which the United Kingdom was founded. Freedom of choice, no one wants that taken away from them. But from a sales standpoint, people only want a few different options to choose from, they want simple choices, not difficult choices.
So you have to keep it simple, in most cases two or three different options are optimum.
That preserves the customer's desire to choose, yet keeps them from choice overload and subsequent shutdown. What if the nature of your product or service is such that you offer a high level of customization with a myriad of choices.
An example would be a carpeting retailer, the customer can choose brand, style, colour, design, thickness and desirability level, etc.
The combination of variables produces an almost unlimited number of options to choose from, when this is the case you need skilled salespeople to walk the customer through the choice funnel.
Here's the strategy your salespeople should adopt:
You, I'm talking to you, as you're the salesperson now, you make the decision and ask the client to approve it. Let me repeat that.
You the salesperson make decisions for the customer, then simply ask them to approve your recommendation.
And here is an effective way of doing that:
You ask a few pointed questions and then depending on how the client answers, you eliminate options, you scrape it down until you end up with only two or three options and then you let the customer choose amongst those few options that remain.
When I was in my early 20s studying at the University of Hertfordshire, England, I worked during the summers at a photography and graphic design company. I worked mainly in the graphics department but one day a potential customer walked in and he was asking about business cards. I happened to be standing right there at the counter, so I decided to wait on him myself.
Naturally, by pulling out several binders of sample cards and saying something like “Here are all the different cards we can print, which one do you like best”. The guy must have spent 15 or 20 minutes flipping through page after page of business card samples and the more he looked at, the less he knew what he wanted. Eventually, he said well I'm not sure which way to go I'll come back later, and out the door, he went.
My manager was watching this and when it was over he pulled me aside and said you gave him too many choices when you do that they can't make a decision. I learned a very important lesson in selling that day and the next time a customer walked in looking for business cards, I asked a few questions then only showed him seven different samples. I asked another question, and he eliminated three of those options. I asked one more question and he eliminated two more, leaving only two for the customer to choose from, and just like that he made the buy decision.
The third and final decision block we're going to discuss is logic lack. In chapter one, we identified emotional stimulation as one of the four things people really want. I'm sure you've heard it said that people buy emotionally. That's probably been your experience as well from both marketers' and buyers' perspective but there's more to it than that.
Let's go beneath the surface and find out what's really going on.
Emotion depicted in your marketing or inherent in your products or service itself is highly attractive, it creates wants and desires but that does not mean consumers will make the purchase decision.
To trigger that purchase decision, you need a dose of logic added to all that emotion.
Think of emotion as water building up on one side of a dam. There might be a lot of water pressure there, which is good. Now think of logic as the dam gate opening, suddenly the water flows with vigor.
That is the purchase decision triggered by logic, many people believe the subconscious mind is the logical one and the conscious mind is the emotional one. Actually, it's just the opposite, the subconscious mind determines whether you want something or not. The conscious mind determines whether you make the purchase decision or not. A purchase decision, therefore, is primarily a conscious decision and the conscious mind thrives on Logic.
If the buyer’s brain doesn't have one or more strong logical reasons for purchasing, it may feel too uncomfortable to make the purchase decision even though there are lots of wants and desires there.
There's also something called emotion logic conflict that acts as a purchase block. Have you or anyone you know ever expressed conflicts like these: “Well I really want to upgrade my AV equipment” = emotion “but my wife would kill me if I spent the money on it” = logic.
“I know I should save money” = logic “but you only live once” = emotion. “This outfit is me” = emotion “but if I wait for a sale at the end of the season I could save money” = logic.
These examples show how emotional logic conflict can exist in the mind of anyone person.
Now here are some examples of emotional logic conflict between two people.
Person one; “This house is great, let us make an offer” = emotion,
Person two; “I really think we should look at more homes before we jump” = logic.
Person A; “This sports car is hot” = emotion
Person B; “There's no trunk space and not enough protection if you're in an accident” = logic
These examples are the outward expressions of emotion logic conflict which makes them apparent. Most of the time, however, we are aware of the emotional logic conflict that exists in our brain.
We are aware of the resulting feelings of tension, anxiety, and stress, though both the emotional and logical minds, want to have influence over your behaviour including your purchase decisions.
When they conflict as we just discussed, it can be very difficult for someone to decide to buy but when the marketer supplies both emotion-based persuasion and logic-based persuasion, the buyer's emotional mind and logical mind can agree.
Then the purchase decision can be made with ease.
What enables logic to trigger the purchase decision?
There are three main factors the first is logic facilitates communication. The oldest and most vivid example of this then I can come up with dates back to the late 1950s and early 1960s. It's the American bandstand television show hosted by Dick Clark. Whenever teams were asked why they like the song, more often under the right side, the same reason: "it's got a good beat and you can dance to it", they say. Now it may have been more accurate to say the specific integration of vocal and musical sounds induces an emotional reaction in my brain that I find highly pleasurable and the subconscious level Mr. Clark. But what were the chances of someone articulating that answer, emotional reasons are hard to get a handle on, hard to describe.
Logical reasons on the other hand are so much easier to grasp and verbalise. The second factor that gives logic the power to trigger the purchase decision is that logic averts ridicule. Many of our purchase decisions are potential targets for a question or ridicule.
When someone questions the wisdom behind purchasing an expensive practical sports car, which of these answers sounds flakier and more subject to ridicule and which sounds more justifiable and sound?
[“I am trying to impede my growing inadequacy by bolstering my perceived sexual attractiveness] or [“This baby is maintenance-free and has a great resale value”].
There's nothing like a strong dose of logic to squelch doubter.
Remember emotion fuels debate, logic settles debate but the third factor that gives logic its strength is that logic suppresses guilt.
Sometimes the customer can harbor feelings of guilt or self-indulgence that becomes activated when a purchase is made strictly by emotion but logic suppresses feelings of guilt and self-indulgence.
When those feelings are averted, the purchase decision can be made. Let's boil it down to specific ways you can use logic to trigger the purchase decision.
Step #1: Use a 9 to 1 ratio between emotion and logic.
In other words, 90% of each ad or commercial should be emotion-oriented and 10% logic-oriented. The reason why such an imbalance, it takes a good deal of effort to build want and desire but only a small amount of logic to trigger the purchase decision.
Think about that dam we talked about, the build-up of water pressure can take some time but it only takes one small opening for the water to then gust. Think about most of the car commercials you see on television or on the internet. The car moves down a winding water slip road at night, tilted camera angles, fast edits, energetic or romantic music, perhaps an elegantly dressed couple step out.
All of this is the emotional part, then near the end, the miles per gallon or monthly payment information appears on the screen that's the logical part.
Speaking of vehicles, have you ever noticed that they always show pickup slushing through mud, the truck is bouncing up and down some dirt road in a country collecting mud and splashing mud all over the place or they show the truck attached by a chain to a locomotive or elephant or house and of course the truck like a tugboat is able to pull the weight with ease?
All of this is the emotional part, and let me tell you it does get the testosterone following. Notice that this type of emotional depiction is very illogical, I know several mature males that own pickup trucks but partly ever do they drive through mud and they never pull elephants down the street. Yes, the emotion can be exaggerated and illogical, but the real logic has to appear and sure enough, it does in the form of miles per gallon info, price payment info, or how long this brand of the truck will last.
I said 10% logic is all you need, but you could use a higher dose of logic if you prefer. Your advert could even be 50% emotional and 50% logical. Just make sure the logic is there and easy to see or hear.
Step #2 is to present your emotion first, logic second.
The sequence is important, you build want and desire first, then you trigger the purchase decision like packing the gunpowder then igniting it.
Step #3 is to use wording that is easy to repeat.
You want to spoon-feed your logic statements to consumers in a manner that makes it easy for them to repeat them word for word.
Radio stations do this all the time, they'll say something like: "We play the kind of music everyone at work can agree upon". Why do they say that? it's so the person who controls the radio at work can defend their choice of the station by repeating that line when someone questions his or her choice of station.
By making your logic statements easy to repeat, you supply your customers with the ammunition they need to defend their decision to choose your product or service. That's really important because you can bet someone is going to question them.
They need to justify in logical terms why they bought from you. You need to supply your customers, with that logical reasoning keep your logical statements short and quick. To aid verbalisation, you need one or two short clear logical sentences to avoid cute or overly clever wording.
Step 4# is to justify the emotion. You could provide a logical reason why the emotion your depicting is okay to feel. For example, say you designed the emotional part of your advert to arouse the joy or excitement emotion, you also know that the buyer's logical mind might be opposing the emotion producing feelings of guilt, so one of your logic statements could say something like you work hard and deserve rest and relaxation or hard work deserves a reward.
The idea is to give a logical mind some reasoning it will agree with. The client’s brain then avoids emotional logic conflict and the purchase decision is triggered. Your emotion justifying line may simply be one or two sentences contained in the body of your copy or it could even be your slogan. McDonald's “I’m lovin it” slogan is an example. L'Oreal’s slogan is “you're worth it” three simple words that justify spending the money on high-priced products.
In this chapter, I have talked about why the client might hesitate to make the purchase decision, and now you know several ways to counteract that to trigger the purchase decision. In the next chapter, I'll reveal a simple cost-free method you can use to gain instant impact with your marketing and achieve top of mind awareness at the same time.